We first visited our 2008 Audi TT 2.0T back in EC 9/12. We were full of hope and youthful enthusiasm, bowled along by a successful body kit installation and new wheels. Both came from the Audi Genuine Accessories catalog, promising OE quality and fit.
We ordered a front spoiler, side skirts and rear diffuser from our local Audi dealer, replacing the electronic trunk spoiler with a fixed item similar to the TT RS. We also fitted Audi's 19" Turbo Twist wheels and our usual Continental ExtremeContact DW tires.
Unfortunately, our dreams were shattered by an inability to source parts for the next installment. It seems everything was on back order in Germany but we waited patiently for months. Eventually, we switched to plan B: lowering the car to look better with its body kit and wheels, as well as perform better at the track days its been attending.
By now you know we're fans of H&R components, so ordered a set of its Street Performance coilovers and sway bars for either end. The adjustable spring perches would allow us to drop the TT 1.5-2" front and 1.5-2.5" rear, while we had a choice of bars. The company supplies either 26 or 28mm diameter front and 22 or 24mm rear anti-roll bars, depending on how aggressive you want them - both include two mounting holes to allow your chosen bar to be tailored as well.
We opted for the narrower of the two bars to keep it well mannered on the street, since that's where it spends most of its time. However, they'd still offer a useful improvement over the stock sway bars.
With the parts in hand, we ran over to Supreme Power Parts in Placentia, CA. In addition to building the Vorsteiner Porsche 911 featured elsewhere in this issue, Eric Nareshni and his crew (Tam and Ilie) are our go-to shop for parts fitting. The large workshop is well equipped and the expert staff is very experienced on all types of European cars, so we've yet to find a challenge they couldn't tackle.
The advantage of a shop like this is they know the routine, so can have the parts fitted quickly, minimizing down-time for your vehicle. The coilovers took a couple of hours to install but the front sway bar presented its own challenge. You need to drop the front subframe to fit the bar, taking a couple of hours to disassemble and ensure it's put back correctly. The rear was a breeze in comparison but bear this in mind when looking at labor costs. All told, we were faced with a 4-5hr job because they'd done it before. We have to stress that the front sway bar and coilovers aren't a DIY task and do require a lift. The rear suspension and sway bar are considerably easier and could be done yourself if you have the tools and a degree of proficiency.
Our stock ride height with 19" Audi Turbo Twist wheels
The lowered H&R ride height before we raised the front-end slightly to level the car
H&R's Street Performance coilovers and sway bars will transform both the Audi TT's looks and handling
H&R's Street Performance coilovers and sway bars will transform both the Audi TT's looks a
Wearing our brave pants, Ilie first tackled the front suspension. The coilover swap was relatively straightforward and little different from the hundreds of times we'd done it in the past.
The factory top mount bolts back onto the H&R front strut
To remove the front struts, undo the three bolts in the top of the suspension turret and loosen the pinch bolt on the hub. With the sway bar end-link detached and brake lines or cables unclipped, the strut can be removed for disassembly.
For this you'll need a spring compressor to remove the top mount/strut bearing assembly. Failure to compress the spring could cause it to fire the top section into your face when it's being removed.
Fit the stock top mount onto the new H&R strut with its spring in place - being shorter, it doesn't need compressing.
When fitting the H&R strut into the car, it doesn't have a locating tab like the stock part. Therefore, you need to make a note of the original strut's location in relation to the sway-bar end-link. The securing bracket needs to be in the same place, or it will exert extra pressure on the end-link.
With the struts in place we needed to remove the stock sway bar. This involved removing the undertray and fender splashguards to access the front subframe and brace.
Fitting the strut requires no special tools but you'll need to remember the end-link's alignment
Fitting the strut requires no special tools but you'll need to remember the end-link's ali
After removing the undertray, this aluminum brace must be removed to access subframe
Unbolt the supported subframe, taking care to disconnect the steering cable
The aluminum brace is secured with both hex and 12pt bolts (requiring a special 12pt socket). Once removed you can access the subframe itself, which should be supported before the bolts are removed.
The Audi TT subframe is fitted with stretch bolts that should be replaced with new ones before refitting. Unfortunately, replacements aren't supplied with the sway bar kit and since it was late at night we decided to take our chances. This isn't something we'd recommend.
This is the front subframe assembly with the stock sway bar still in place
You will need to remove six bolts from the subframe, four on the steering rack and four that secure the sway bar. Before dropping the frame, make sure you remove the clip that secures the electric power steering cable to avoid damage.
Concentric holes in the subframe are used to align the front suspension, so you will definitely need a geometry alignment after fitting the sway bar. We did our best to place it in the original position when refitting, but it's virtually impossible to avoid some slight movement.
Once the subframe is out of the car, it's relatively easy to remove the original 23mm sway bar and replace with the 26mm H&R part. It's supplied with bigger Purim/teflon bushings, claimed to eliminate the need to lubricate. However, a bottle of silicone lube was also provided so we used it to avoid irritating squeaks.
New sway bar brackets are also provided to secure the bushings. These should be bolted into the subframe, and the whole assembly refitted. The final job is to connect the end-links to the sway bar using one of the two holes provided. The inner holes provide the most resistance to body roll, but we opted for the outer hole first to gauge its effect.
As we previously mentioned, this installation is far from a DIY job. You will need a 12pt socket, car lift, support bar, new stretch bolts from Audi, and a torque wrench to tighten everything back to the manufacturer's recommended settings.
The H&R sway bar is supplied with new bushings and brackets that are bolted to the subframe from the other side
The H&R sway bar is supplied with new bushings and brackets that are bolted to the subfram
The H&R front sway bar has two mounting holes. We used the outer hole for the end-link to give milder driving responses
The H&R front sway bar has two mounting holes. We used the outer hole for the end-link to
Front ride height adjustment was achieved by winding the red spring perches up or down the threaded strut body
Front ride height adjustment was achieved by winding the red spring perches up or down the
This would be a stroll in the park in comparison. Start by undoing the two bolts from the top of the rear dampers, which are mercifully accessed from under the car rather than inside the tailgate. Then unbolt the lower control arm that allows you to remove the rear spring and access the bottom bolt on the damper.
The top mount/bearing assembly and dust boot are removed from the OE damper and fitted to the H&R with the supplied nut. You can then fit the new dampers but before refitting the springs, remove the stock rear sway bar by undoing the two bolts on each bracket and one on the end-links. You can jink the 18mm sway bar out and replace it with the 22mm H&R bar.
Again, new bushings are supplied and lubed, fitting into the factory brackets. There are also two mounting holes on this bar, so we again opted for the softer setting initially.
With the bar bolted into place, take the H&R adjustable spring perch and mount it in the top of the H&R spring. This will give you ride height adjustment and, like the front, we set it in the middle as a starting point.
Position the rear spring and perch into the control arm and bolt the end of the arm back into place.
The OE top mount bearing and dust boot were fitted onto the H&R rear damper
H&R rear damper should be bolted back into place before the spring and sway bar
The rear sway bar is simply unbolted and jinked through the rear axle, to be replaced with the new H&R bar and bushings
The rear sway bar is simply unbolted and jinked through the rear axle, to be replaced with
The adjustable H&R rear spring perch sits on top of the spring as shown here
The H&R spring goes back into the stock position in the control arm, which is bolted back to the hub afterwards
The H&R spring goes back into the stock position in the control arm, which is bolted back
This shows the rear sway bar in situ, with the end-link again bolted to the outer hole
When the car was lowered to the floor, it sat as it appears in the close-up photo.
Supreme Power Parts fitted the suspension in record time
It looked amazing and had eradicated that awkward fender gap but was probably lower than practicality dictated.
We adjusted the front higher so the car sat level, with each fender about 26" off the ground, which is how it sits in the main photo.
The ride height adjustment is easy, using a pair of C wrenches supplied in the kit to move the spring perches. It was possible to adjust the front with the wheels in place, making it quicker to fine-tune the height.
As with all H&R coilover kits, the ride comfort was surprisingly good, managing to mimic the stock damping feel with reduced suspension travel. We find the comfort levels totally acceptable and the car corners flat thanks to the sway bars.
The improvements were enjoyed at a track day shortly afterwards, when lap times came tumbling thanks to new confidence in the car.
Unfortunately, dropping a wheel off a curb resulted in the tire rubbing into the fender and snagging the bodywork. As the inner fender made contact, it cut into the sidewall, ending the day.
With the 19" Audi Turbo Twist wheels, we'd experienced no rubbing at all up to this point, even at the lowered ride height. It was the impact of the accident that caused the suspension to compress beyond its normal limits and snag the fender.
However, it was easily resolved with a return trip to Supreme Power Parts where Eric expertly rolled the front fenders for us in a matter of minutes. He didn't want us showing his technique but it achieves a neat finish without paint damage. The rear fenders have smaller lips and were deemed unnecessary to roll.
So thanks again to Eric, Ilie and Tam at Supreme Power Parts for their continued help. We're now looking forward to the next modifications in our ongoing quest to create a truly versatile Audi TT, capable of daily duties and weekend track days.