Getting the Cali to handle like a car

t6_tom

Member
VIP Member
T6 Pro
I have a Cali Ocean DSG, 4 motion, not light with the family and a bit of stuff on board very close to 3 tons. My driving style is probably quicker than average without being stupid.

Bought it second hand with standard everything and pretty quickly knew I needed to do something with the handling. Particularly on the motorway it didn't feel stable at all.

Via this forum that lead me to CRS and Koni Special active with some rear spacers installed. Motorway was definitely improved, less lean on roundabout, more controlled on A roads. Negatives were braking was worse (I was getting a lot of weight transfer forward) the van was now over 2 meters and the tow bar was high at 435mm (15 mm over max) My feeling was that the springs were too soft, arbs too soft and when cornering too much weight was going to the outside front wheel. However I just put this down to being a 3 ton van.

I had it in the back of my mind to get the arb's upgraded and I wanted to get the van under 2m. Unfortunately one of the ARB links had come undone, which given the amount of work CRS does sounds like an isolated incident. I decided to give Bognor motors a call. Oli recommended that I come and give one his fleet vans a spin with H&R arb, with KW STX . So I did, and I couldn't believe the results, 2 roundabouts in I was already going faster than I thought you could corner in a van and there wasn't given a squeak from the tires.

I ended up purchasing that setup, dropping the van by 50mm on the front and setting the arch gaps even all round. The handling has been completely transformed, genuinely car like. Basically I can't imaging needing more handling in a what is still a near 3 ton camper.
  • Roundabout the van stays almost flat with no tire squeal, no carsick wife. Van feels balanced all round.
  • Braking feels much nicer, no dive at speed and no "bobble" at low speeds
  • Motorway much more stable still
  • A roads, steers a line with no correction needed, damping is spot on.
  • Country roads, not crashy at all and I reckon the damping is better than the konis
  • I tested a rough farm track which was much worse than my previous, this makes up 0.01% of my driving. But a consideration if you need to head off tarmac regularly.

I do realise this may not seem a fair comparison because the Koni setup was just dampers on stock springs and arb, vs a full suspension change. However too get close to what I have now I would need to swap the springs and ARB, at which point it not a big stretch to have the benefit of setting up the height on each corner so coilovers made sense. Having been able to test drive the stx (to me anyway) it didn't make any sense to start spending more tweaking, just take the hit and get what you want.

Hope this can be of help to someone.
 

JOG

Member
VIP Member
T6 Legend
Interesting write-up. I’m not sure how much is due to the H&R ARB upgrade?
 
Going to keep an eye on this thread as I've ordered the Koni Special Active on standard springs/arb's on my T32 which is in the process of conversion. I didnt want it to be lowered but wanted to improve the ride and handling...... interested if there are any other thoughts? Mine is the 150 DSG so also considering the big brake upgrade from Oli at Bognor once the conversion is finished. Decisions Decisions.
 

JOG

Member
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T6 Legend
The H&R ARBs make a HUGE difference, even if you are fitting them to a T32.
That’s my view too. It is difficult to discern the extra contribution the springs made once the ARBs are sorted out! The H&R is still an upgrade on the standard T32 kit
 

BognorMotors

BMVS Sport & Performance
Trade Member
T6 Legend
I have a Cali Ocean DSG, 4 motion, not light with the family and a bit of stuff on board very close to 3 tons. My driving style is probably quicker than average without being stupid.

Bought it second hand with standard everything and pretty quickly knew I needed to do something with the handling. Particularly on the motorway it didn't feel stable at all.

Via this forum that lead me to CRS and Koni Special active with some rear spacers installed. Motorway was definitely improved, less lean on roundabout, more controlled on A roads. Negatives were braking was worse (I was getting a lot of weight transfer forward) the van was now over 2 meters and the tow bar was high at 435mm (15 mm over max) My feeling was that the springs were too soft, arbs too soft and when cornering too much weight was going to the outside front wheel. However I just put this down to being a 3 ton van.

I had it in the back of my mind to get the arb's upgraded and I wanted to get the van under 2m. Unfortunately one of the ARB links had come undone, which given the amount of work CRS does sounds like an isolated incident. I decided to give Bognor motors a call. Oli recommended that I come and give one his fleet vans a spin with H&R arb, with KW STX . So I did, and I couldn't believe the results, 2 roundabouts in I was already going faster than I thought you could corner in a van and there wasn't given a squeak from the tires.

I ended up purchasing that setup, dropping the van by 50mm on the front and setting the arch gaps even all round. The handling has been completely transformed, genuinely car like. Basically I can't imaging needing more handling in a what is still a near 3 ton camper.
  • Roundabout the van stays almost flat with no tire squeal, no carsick wife. Van feels balanced all round.
  • Braking feels much nicer, no dive at speed and no "bobble" at low speeds
  • Motorway much more stable still
  • A roads, steers a line with no correction needed, damping is spot on.
  • Country roads, not crashy at all and I reckon the damping is better than the konis
  • I tested a rough farm track which was much worse than my previous, this makes up 0.01% of my driving. But a consideration if you need to head off tarmac regularly.

I do realise this may not seem a fair comparison because the Koni setup was just dampers on stock springs and arb, vs a full suspension change. However too get close to what I have now I would need to swap the springs and ARB, at which point it not a big stretch to have the benefit of setting up the height on each corner so coilovers made sense. Having been able to test drive the stx (to me anyway) it didn't make any sense to start spending more tweaking, just take the hit and get what you want.

Hope this can be of help to someone.


Glad you are pleased with the end result, and we could advise you in how to improve your drive and handling on the California.

For me it highlights the importance of test driving the suspension you are trying. As we've always said, only you can decide which is right for you, and the important thing here is you got to test it back to back with your current setup and experience the difference. The Komi Actives are great suspension, but just didn't work as well as the STX and the new setup. It is worth pointing out that out demo vehicle didn't have the H&R ARB's - We only have them currently on a T6.1.

On the note of the H&R ARB's we have always loved these as an upgrade, especially on a heavy vehicle like the California or a converted camper van, and even by themselves with no other upgrades. They are a massive improvement to help further reduce the body roll and understeer and lightening the steering in the process.

The California is a heavy vehicle so when we set it up with coilovers, its take s a lot of careful measurement and adjustment to get it to sit correctly, and then a final Hunter alignment to get it 100%.

Enjoy your California and glad we could get it right for you - See you for the remap ;-)
 
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t6_tom

Member
VIP Member
T6 Pro
Need to add a correction to my original post. The fleet van I drive didn't have h&r arbs. @BognorMotors were they just stock t28?

If anything this points to the stx doing a great job.

I don't want it to sound like I'm trashing the koni setup. I'm not. I am completely blown away with the kW set up though.
 

BognorMotors

BMVS Sport & Performance
Trade Member
T6 Legend
Need to add a correction to my original post. The fleet van I drive didn't have h&r arbs. @BognorMotors were they just stock t28?

If anything this points to the stx doing a great job.

I don't want it to sound like I'm trashing the koni setup. I'm not. I am completely blown away with the kW set up though.

Yes stock T28 ARbs on the test drive.
 

t6_tom

Member
VIP Member
T6 Pro
The KW are a chunk more money though aren't they?
And you're lower now too so that will make a difference....
Nothing better than a good result in the end!


My feeling was the stock springs were too soft so I wanted to go for a lower stiffer spring anyway. Once you're replacing the springs and the dampers and don't think there's a massive amount in it. If you are getting and alignment done of course.

Totally agree being lower has helped the handling, and the looks. I'm now down 50mm on the front which is out of range of the Konis.
 

Stay Frosty

Electrician
T6 Guru
I had B14s fitted on my T28 camper and they took the handling from feeling like the van was likely to pogo into the hedge on the next bend you took to the plush predictable ride of a larger car.
I couldn't get the H&R Arbs fitted at the same time as the coil overs so did get a sort of reveal on the effect of thicker anti roll bars when they were fitted a month later and while they did remove the plushness from the ride when fitted they firmed things up to the point where you didn't have to lift on corners if you wanted to get a bit more room between yourself and Mr/Mrs Magoo stuck up your backside.
Sadly VW have always been too proud to install Ford Transit suspension which works straight from the factory.
 

YellowHound

Photographer
VIP Member
T6 Legend
'Sadly VW have always been too proud to install Ford Transit suspension which works straight from the factory.'

Yes, you just can't go wrong with a live rear axle and cart springs :whistle:
 

Dan Morritz

Transport Planner
VIP Member
T6 Pro
I've got the KW STX set up on my bus and its wonderful. Props to steve at @CRS Performance for this improvement, but not just for providing and fitting the product, but for listening to my needs first, and then providing me with the product options. Of course it makes sense to do the research on suspension, but for new Transporter owners reading this, chat to the suspension specialists too and be brutally honest with what you are doing with the van and how you will drive it. They are specialists for a reason.
I went in to this with a 'want' for one brand of coilovers, and came out with KW's and boy, the ride home was fantastic.
 

CRS Performance

Suspension Specialist
Trade Member
T6 Guru
Going to keep an eye on this thread as I've ordered the Koni Special Active on standard springs/arb's on my T32 which is in the process of conversion. I didnt want it to be lowered but wanted to improve the ride and handling...... interested if there are any other thoughts? Mine is the 150 DSG so also considering the big brake upgrade from Oli at Bognor once the conversion is finished. Decisions Decisions.
Special active is a very different damper to anything else on the market , Once you understand it, you will know why it does what it does so well , We dont sell many of them because the sport version gets the result in lowered vans there fore we sell approx. 20 Sport sets to every Special active set , Standard Vans are high and this causes a lot of the body roll so A R B and sport shocks will make this better in both Lowered and standard height vans .

You simply cant compare the Special actives ( comfortable shocks ) to a coil over kit ( Sport Shocks and springs ) because they are designed to do different things Coil over kits have much stiffer springs fitted to them which helps body roll . This is like comparing a Citroen to a KTM Cross bow .
Special active is standard fitment on Aston Martin . Lamborghini , Mclaren SLR to name a few OEM customers but it likes to function at standard height in what ever car / van its installed . It has the ability to self adjust over bad bumps , this is a patented product and it has been a game changer in the suspension industry .
 
Thanks CRS, as always appreciate all the insight on here. Knights Conversions in Spalding busy doing my van and I think he mentioned you supply him with his Koni Special Actives so in a round about way Im a customer :)
 

CRS Performance

Suspension Specialist
Trade Member
T6 Guru
Thanks CRS, as always appreciate all the insight on here. Knights Conversions in Spalding busy doing my van and I think he mentioned you supply him with his Koni Special Actives so in a round about way Im a customer :)
Hi There, Jason and I were just discussing you ha ha were your ears burning ?
 
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