- The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla comes equipped with a 300hp, 273 lb-ft turbocharged three-cylinder engine, all-wheel-drive, and six-speed manual transmission.
- In our last project car article, we revealed 18×9.5” Volk Racing TE37SAGA S-plus Time Attack Edition wheels in Flash White sourced from Mackin Industries.
- Pit+Paddock secured the first set of Sports*I Club Racer coilovers from RS-R Suspension in Japan.
- Auto Tuned installed the competition-spec coilovers which feature 32-way adjustable dampening, front camber plates and stiffer spring rates.
- We sat down with RS-R USA’s director Ben Chong to answer some frequently asked questions about the R&D behind the Sports*I Club Racer coilovers.
It’s been a few months since our last 2023 Toyota GR Corolla update when I took delivery of Volk Racing TE37SAGA S-plus Time Attack wheels. Since then, our project car build made its debut at the 2023 SEMA Show. In the next few upcoming articles, we’ll be looking back at some of the key components that helped us create a sportier and better-performing GR Corolla, starting with the suspension.
TIME TO GET AGGRESSIVE
Out of the box, the GR Corolla is an easy-to-drive and quick 300hp hatchback. Thanks to an all-wheel-drive system that stems from the homologated GR Yaris and a chassis that’s been developed and tested rigorously at the track, you can toss a stock GRC in and out of corners with incredible confidence. However, for my build, I needed a more aggressive suspension setup, not just for a lower stance but for more stability on the road course. At the time when the GR Corolla launched, there weren’t a whole lot of options for suspension upgrades, but thanks to the team at RS-R Suspension, they were able to ship me the first set of Sports*I Club Racer coilovers to be installed and evaluated in the U.S.
INSTALLED AND INITIAL TEST
Auto Tuned has been my go-to, one-stop shop for high-quality install work in Southern California. They’ve also been a longtime technical partner of RS-R having tested and reviewed some of the first prototype coilover kits for the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ and FK8 Civic Type R. The Club Racers for the GR Corolla follow suit, designed for all levels of grassroots time attack drivers while still maintaining a sense of daily drivability.
With our insane 2023 events schedule, I haven’t had a chance to venture out to the track yet, but after driving 1,500 miles on the new suspension, which includes two road trips from LA to Vegas, I’ve been more than happy with its daily drivability. It’s noticeably stiffer than stock, but for my style of driving and for a project car build that will be complemented with other performance upgrades, I prefer a vehicle that gives me more feedback, a sharper turn-in, and lots of room to improve my track times, even if I feel road vibrations a tad more.
INTERVIEW WITH BEN CHONG OF RS-R
There’s still more testing to be done, but for the time being, I would like to shed some light on what makes the Sports*I Club Racer coilovers so special. I sat down with Ben Chong who’s been the head of RS-R USA for years. He explains the thought process of how RS-R products are catered to its customers and why the Club Racers are a top choice in the time attack community.
Compared to your standard coilovers, I deduced that what makes the Club Racers possible are changes in valving and spring rates, plus the addition of adjustable camber plates and pillow ball bushings. Can you elaborate more?
The Club Racer lineup is for the track enthusiast. All the things you listed are attributes that differentiate our Club Racer system from the rest of the lineup. With all of our coilovers, the spring rates and valving are specific to each car, but the focus of the Club Racers is to provide users with a suspension setup that can not only enhance the driving experience on the car with just club racers but can also support performance mods for the track as well, such as more aggressive alignments, softer tires, and increased power. Providing a coilover for enthusiasts who want to get into and improve their track driving experience, yet are able to accommodate their growth in a track environment, even reaching competition level, is what the Club Racer is designed for.
One of the coolest things that Auto Tuned pointed out to me was that the damper adjustment knob on the front suspension was relocated for ease of access.
RS-R’s philosophy revolves around vehicle specificity and how we can enhance each vehicle’s own driving characteristics. With all of our development, we look at how a vehicle performs stock, what we think should be improved on in regard to driving enhancements, and from the installation and tuning side for making setting adjustments. For the GR Corolla, we placed the damper dials at locations that would allow for easier access. Typically, the top mount is accessible from the engine bay, but on the Corolla, it is not, so placing the adjustment dial on the bottom of the shock, it allows for easier access for adjustments.
I was always curious if the components are similar to the GR Yaris, or did having experience with the GR Yaris or regular Corolla Hatchback help develop the GR Corolla system?
I’ve also heard that some of the components are similar, but the only components that may potentially carry over would be things like brackets and top mounts. Everything else in regard to our development was specifically for the GR Corolla.
What sort of in-house testing is done to ensure a kit like the Club Racer is ready for market and what the customer wants?
Our development process starts with analyzing the vehicle in its stock form. It starts with measuring the vehicle stock, testing and dynoing all the factory suspension components, and then figuring out where we think the suspension can be improved. As the owners of the test kits drive their cars every day, they are a valuable source of feedback, which allows us to gain insight into what the owners are looking for. Using all this information and making changes throughout our development with real world scenarios like track sessions and even long-term daily driving, all help to ensure when a product is ready for release.
Would you say Club Racer kits are intended for highly modified vehicles only?
When we have vehicles tested on track, we start off with the vehicle stock and then with just suspension. Once we are confident with the performance, we may move on to more aggressive testing with track tires and additional mods. Since the Club Racers are intended for track builds, we anticipate that most users will be using high-grip tires and performance mods. With the Club Racers, they are able to tune the suspension to their needs.
When it comes to suspension these days, there are almost too many options, especially when talking about a very popular car like the GR Corolla. What do you feel sets RS-R apart from the rest?
RS-R is a Japanese company that has decades of suspension tuning experience both on and off the track. We focus on improving the comfort and handling with every product we offer. Our development and manufacturing is all done in house in Japan. We weld and assemble all our coilover kits by hand, and we source the best materials for our kits. All our product development focuses on how to improve each vehicle’s own driving characteristics. With all these factors we believe that the enthusiasts, tuners and racers can all appreciate and enjoy the difference in RS-R suspension.