Macan Suspension Options: Lowering 101
Today, we're going to talk about some of the different options you have to lower your Macan 95B, and how each options stacks up against the rest.
Factory Macan Suspension Options
The base suspension option for 95B is the standard steel spring suspension, with no PASM. While you may not be able to lower your car with a plug-and-play module, you still have the options to do springs or coilovers. Coilover suspension kits can be installed without the worry for a light coming on the instrument cluster, unlike PASM-equipped vehicles.
Porsche Active Suspension Management, or PASM for short, allows the driver to control the dampening/rebound abilities of the struts with the touch of a button. This system works by increase or decreasing the flow rate of fluids in the strut using valves. Comfort mode allowing the fluid to move as easily as possible, creating a soft suspension feeling. Sport mode tightens up the struts, adding additional firmness to the springs, so you end up feeling more road surface and feedback from the car.
Lastly, but certainly not least, we have the Air-Suspension option. This replaces the conventional steel spring on the strut with an air-inflated sleeve, which can be filled up or deflated, to adjust overall height of the car. All air suspension equipped vehicles also came with PASM, making this the most sought after suspension option, for good reason. Adjustable height and dampening from the push of a button.
How do I lower my Steel Spring Macan?
If your Macan is equipped with steel springs, you've got more lowering options than air equipped vehicles. Lowering springs replace the factory springs with a slightly shorter length spring which puts your vehicle lower to the ground. Reducing the center of gravity is the oldest trick in the book to better handling. In addition to a lower ride height, you'll benefit from a slightly stiffer spring rate. The combination reduces body roll when cornering. Retaining the factory struts means that your Macan will react to small changes in road surface similar to OEM, so you're not chattering your teeth when driving on a cobblestone road.
PASM and non-PASM cars (steel springs) have different options for lowering springs, since the struts are slightly different. Make sure when ordering, you understand the difference, so your kit matches up to your Macan!
Moving up from lowering springs, consider Height Adjustable Spring (HAS) kits to be the best compromise between coilovers and lowering springs. These kits will provide you with a new adjustable spring perch, and more aggressive springs than factory, so installation will be a bit more involved than just springs alone. The benefit is that it reuses the comfortable struts from factory to retain a soft ride (like the springs, think cobblestone roads), but you now have more height adjustment and customization, just like a coilover! All of this, at the fraction of a cost of a full coilover system.
Finally, the top tier option are coilovers. If you're going to be tracking your Macan, trying to avoid squat at the drag strip, or just really want to feel the road, coilovers will be the way to go. Most coilovers offer a manual adjustment for dampening in the shocks. Typically with stiffer settings, performance on the street will suffer and you'll lose the feeling of the Macan behaving like a comfy SUV.
How do I lower my Air-Suspension Macan?
(Pictured: Macan Air Spring)
To understand how to lower air suspension, we must understand how the system works. Under the Macan, a Height Level Sensor connects via a link to the lower control arm, giving the car's suspension module a "reference" to understand what height the car currently is sitting at. Using that reference, it can adjust to different loads (i.e. trailer weight or passengers in the rear seat), and also change heights based on terrain requirements.
But what if you want to go lower than the lowest setting on the terrain setting switch on your stock Macan? You either have to trick this computer mechanically or electronically to force the car to sit at a different height. Early on, many manufacturers found success using the adjustable length Height Level Sensors, such as the ones by FVD or H&R. This works, but these do require getting under the car to install, and they can require multiple adjustments to get the desired height correctly, since there is a ratio multiplier between the length of the link, and the height of the car. 1mm change on the link could mean 1cm change in ride height.
The most common option to go with is a Lowering Module. We've found great success and ease of use with the Cargraphic or CETE Lowering units, which plug into the Macan's air suspension module, and intercept all the signals at the source. This means it can adjust height without installing any hardware, and can quickly be modified or adjusted to get the perfect setting!
If you have access to a PIWIS, or you ask your local dealer, you can always program the car to lower the height from factory, all via software programming. The disadvantage to this method is that it cannot be changed or reverted to factory by the driver, unlike the Lowering modules which let you put the car back up to factory height quickly and conveniently. Remember, running the vehicle at a lowered height basically reduces the air pressure in the bags, "decreasing" their effective spring rate. This means lowering the car with air ride could cause you to bottom out the suspension, so be weary of potholes and speed bumps!
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