GT86 FRS BRZ Coilover Upgrade Guide

Subaru BRZ, FRS, GT86 Coilover Upgrade Guide

Jake Mayock

Meet Jake

Jake is a founder of 8020 Media and TuningPro. He has over a decade of experience in the automotive industry including parts sales, writing, DIY modifications & repairs, and more. Jake is currently converting his N54 to a single turbo and building a Miata track car. He’s an experienced, hands-on automotive enthusiast who delivers in-depth, well-researched content.

Upgrading the stock suspension to coilovers is one of the best handling mods you can make to the Subaru BRZ, Scion FRS, and Toyota 86. With a naturally-aspirated engine and ~200hp, the 7.6 second 0-100km/h is by no means fast. However, the light 2,700lb curb weight makes these cars agile and quick and really fun to drive around corners.

While you can add about 50whp for $2,000 with bolt-on mods, getting any more power out of it will require forced induction and some serious money. Therefore, one of our favorite performance mods is coilovers. Coilovers will not only make the car look better by lowering it but also improve handling and cornering while reducing body roll. So whether you are looking to slam the car for stance, or get better street or track handling performance, coilovers are on the top of our mod list.

The best coilovers for the BRZ and FRS really depends on what your goals are. We will break this guide down into three different categories:

  • Stance & Entry-Level Street
  • Mid-Level Street & Occasional Track
  • Top-Tier Street & Dedicated Track

But, before we dig into the best BRZ, FRS, GT86 coilover setups, there are a few important basics we need to cover with respect to coilover selection. The most important aspects to consider here are tube design, damping control, and spring rates. Additionally, we’ll discuss the difference between BRZ and FRS lowering springs and coilover upgrades.

The suspension is the same across all FRS, BRZ, and Toyota 86 cars so this guide is applicable to all of them.

GT86 FRS BRZ Coilover Upgrade Guide - Best Coilovers

FRS, BRZ, GT86 Coilover Basics

Not all coilovers are made for track use and top of the line performance. The ones that are, as you can imagine, are quite expensive and have a ton of additional features that would be overkill for a simple daily driver. So it’s important to keep in mind what your goals are (and what your budget is) when considering which of these features below you need in your coilovers.

Also keep in mind that the best coilovers aren’t always the ones that offer the best “performance”. While most expensive track-level coilovers have tons of adjustability that can make them driveable on the streets, driving on a set of coilovers that are tuned for the track on a daily driver would be miserable.

Tube Design: Mono vs. Twin

Shocks are a crucial component of coilovers. They generally come in two forms: monotube or twin-tube. This has to do with how the coilovers are designed and engineered. Without getting into the nitty gritty, we’ll highlight the important aspects of both of these options.

Monotube coilovers are more sensitive and also more precise which makes them offer better handling performance. However, they can be slightly less comfortable for daily driving since they are more sensitive. If you ever track your BRZ or FRS then monotube is a must. For a street-only car, the choice is up to you.

Twin-tube coilovers are less sensitive and precise and therefore provide less handling improvements. The trade-off is that they are a lot less expensive than monotube coilovers and they are going to be more comfortable on the street. If you don’t care too much about performance, ie. for stance, then twin-tube is a good option. Also, it’s not to say that twin-tubes won’t be an improvement over stock; they will still offer more performance than stock just not as much as monotubes.

Damping Control

Damping, or dampening, also refers to the shocks on the coilovers. The main job of shocks is to control the compression and rebound of the coil springs. A stiffer shock will allow for less spring compress and less rebound whereas a softer shock will allow more compress and more rebound.

Coilovers come in two different forms here: pre-set damping or no control, and adjustable dampening. The damping on pre-set coilovers is set by the manufacturer to provide the best combination of performance and ride quality. Coilovers with adjustable dampening have knobs on the top of them that allow you to make the damping more stiff or soft, giving you more control over performance and ride quality. Once you get into track-level coilovers, most will come with 2 or 3-way adjustability allowing you to independently adjust rebound, compression, and speed, whereas most street-level coilovers only have 1-way control.

As you can guess, damping control is more expensive. So here is our high level take on it:

  • Damping adjustability: must have for any car that sees a track, optional for street and daily driving
  • Pre-set damping: budget-friendly, good for those who don’t care as much about performance and are looking for entry-level options
  • 3-way adjustable damping: must have for dedicated track cars, overkill for street cars unless you don’t care about budget

Spring Rates

Springs hold the weight of the car. Spring rates refer to the amount of force that is required to compress the spring by 1-inch. Therefore, higher spring rates mean a stiffer ride. Budget coilovers are going to come with one option for springs. Some of the more expensive (usually ~$1,500) coilovers will allow you to upgrade your springs so that you can choose your own spring rates.

Higher spring rates = stiffer ride, better for performance
Lower spring rates = softer ride, more ride comfort and quality

Spring rates are one of the most important things for ride quality. If you have extremely stiff, track-level spring rates then you are going to have a bad ride quality on the streets. Even if you have adjustable dampening and set the dampening to the softest setting it will still be a rough ride since all of the force is sitting on the springs and not the struts. On the other end, if you have really soft spring rates and try to compensate by setting the damping to stiff then you are putting a lot of stress on your shocks which can blow them out.

Also, if you are slamming your car or going for stance then you need springs on the stiffer end to prevent from bottoming out.

At the end of the day, don’t get too stressed out on spring rates. Most coilover setups will come with the optimal spring rates for what the coilovers are meant to do. Upgrading springs is usually only necessary if you have very specific performance goals.

BRZ and FRS Lowering Springs vs. Coilovers

Not sure if you want coilovers? The alternative option is throwing a set of lowering springs onto the car. If your budget allows, we always recommend coilovers for a few reasons.

First, lowering springs don’t offer ride height adjustability. This is important if you are running aftermarket wheels and or larger tires, or if you plan to or swap out your wheels frequently. Springs only offer a fixed drop which can create rubbing if you are running larger wheels or tires, or wheels with a low offset. And regardless of that, being able to adjust the height is a great feature to have.

Secondly, even the most budget set of coilovers is going to ride better than lowering springs, unless you also upgrade your shocks. The stock shocks on the FRS, BRZ, and GT86 aren’t built for the stiffer spring rates that lowering springs have which can make it a less comfortable ride. Also performance is more so impacted by the shocks than the springs so springs by themselves will provide less performance than a full coilover setup. And if you plan on doing springs and shocks/struts then you are going to spend as much as coilovers cost anyways.

BRZ, FRS, GT86 Coilover Upgrade Benefits

  • Ride height control, from ~0-3″
  • Better handling and cornering with reduced body roll
  • More comfortable ride quality compared to springs
  • Damping control for adjusting softness/stiffness (for more expensive coilovers)
  • Great replacement for old or worn factory suspension

A good set of coilovers will outperform the stock suspension any day of the week. And with some budget-friendly options available, it makes coilovers either a great upgrade especially if you have worn stock suspension.

Whether you are looking for stance/lowering or improved street/track performance, coilovers are probably the best suspension and handling mod you can make to your FRS or BRZ.

Best BRZ and FRS Coilover Setups

“Best” is really a subjective term when it comes to coilovers. The best setup is the one that fits within your budget and best accomplishes your goals. A $3k set of track coilovers might offer the highest performance potential but it certainly isn’t the best coilovers for someone looking for stance, as an exmaple.

We are going to cover 3 different setups here, per the categories I laid out above: stance/entry street, mid-level street & some track, and top of the line track coilovers.

1) Stance & Entry Street: Raceland BRZ/FRS/GT86 Coilovers

Tier: Budget-friendly, Stance, Entry-Level Street, Best Bang-for-the-Buck
Price: $519
Lowering: 1-3″
Buy Here: FRS Coilovers, BRZ Coilovers, GT86 Coilovers

Racelands are our favorite entry-level bang-for-the-buck coilover. These are not going to give you track-level performance, but they will be a bit stiffer and offer decent performance benefits over the stock suspension. They are a twin-tube design and do not having damping control which is why we consider them entry-level and would not recommend them for the track.

With down to a 3″ drop, Racelands are the best for stance and will get you about as low as you would ever need to go. Additionally, they have great customer service, a lifetime warranty, and offer Affirm financing which makes these a great option for anyone looking for a budget-friendly setup.

Damping is pre-set to best match the spring rates offered. The damping and spring rates are stiff enough to prevent bottoming out when fully lowered but also soft enough to make them comfortable to ride on as a daily driver.

Overall, these aren’t the highest performance coilovers but they will still be better than the OEM suspension. They are stiff enough without sacrificing too much ride quality. And it’s a good company. However, if you care more about performance than budget, we suggest something in bucket #2.

2) Mid-Level Street and Weekend Warrior

For higher performance street setups and the weekend track warrior you will want a more advanced setup. These options all include monotube designs and adjustable damping to give you more control over ride quality and performance. For any daily driver or street car that also sees track time, damping control is a must. It will allow you to adjust the stiffness/softness of the suspension so that you can stiffen it for track days but soften it for street driving.

The performance and adjustability benefits these coilovers offer make them quite a bit more expensive, running in the $1,000 to $1,500 price range. However, they will offer just about as much street performance as you need and also be sufficient for track use. Some of these options will allow you to upgrade your springs and or choose your spring rates. Keep in mind what your goals are when doing this. If it’s just a daily, the softer spring rates are probably better whereas for a car that also sees the track, upgrading to a stiffer spring is a good idea.

Best Mid-Level Street & Occasional Track Coilovers

  • ST Suspension
  • Stance XR1
  • Fortune Auto 500
  • Apexi N1
  • BC Racing
  • KW V1
  • Skunk2 Pro ST

3) FRS/BRZ Top-Tier Street & Dedicated Track Coilovers

Once you break past the $2k price point you start getting into the track-level suspension setups. These options are all top of the line monotube designs and most have 2 or 3-way damping control to control compression and rebound settings independently.

Spring upgrade options are available for most of these setups but they will generally come with stiffer spring rates as they are more track oriented. Additionally, a number of these coilovers also have camber-adjustable top mounts allowing you to control wheel camber.

The last note here is that these coilovers will all have less height adjustability than the options above. Track cars aren’t ever going to need a 3″ drop so most of these setups will only drop around 1.5″ inches.

Best FRS and BRZ Track Coilovers

  • KW V3
  • Ohlins
  • Pedders Extreme XA
  • Apexi N1 Evolution
  • Fortune Auto 510
  • RS-R Club Racer

BRZ and FRS Coilovers Summary

Coilovers come with different features and across all budgets. When determing which coilovers you need, remember to consider whether you need monotube performance and damping control. Additionally, spring rates should be stiffer for more performance and for slammed cars while softer spring rates will provide for more comfortable ride quality.

If you are looking for an entry setup or just some lowering/stance then you can’t go wrong with Raceland coilovers. While adjustable damping and monotube is nice, it’s not a necessity for street cars unless you are focused on performance. Racelands will provide more performance and a better ride over stock suspension but will fall short of the bucket #2 coilovers from a performance perspective. If you need budget-friendly then stick to these.

Unless you are building a dedicated track car, then you probably don’t need anything more expensive than the $1,500 mark. Coilovers in this price range will have most of the bells and whistles and offer as much performance as you will need for street and occasional track use. $2k+ track coilovers are really only worth it when having independent rebound and compression damping control is a must.

What coilovers are you running on your FRS/BRZ/Toyota 86?

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