NISSAN GT-R JUNE 2014: IMPROVING STEERING FEEL
June 30, 2014 4:00 PM  |  Posted By: David_Yu
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Litchfield toe-linksHaving attended Litchfield Motors’ test day last October at Castle Combe with WTCC stars (and Litchfield GT-R owners) Rob Huff and Tom Chilton, I was particularly impressed with the front suspension changes Iain and his team had made on his faithful blue demonstrator GT-R.

With a combination of completely redesigned and custom-made front and lower arms and toe-links, the front end was almost miraculously sharp, responsive and understeer-free.

Castle Combe’s many bumps unsettled all the OEM control arm-equipped GT-Rs (including Stealthzilla) to some extent, even those with the very impressive Litchfield suspension kit (i.e. spring and damper kit), but Iain’s demonstrator just monstered round every corner with the front end completely undeflected by bumps.

In fact, as you can see in this video, it is the rear end that struggles to keep up with the front on occasions, albeit when being driven hard by a WTCC champion.

Litchfield video

Those parts are now in full production, but unfortunately using F1 designers and aerospace-grade aluminium doesn’t come cheap and the upper and lower control arms cost a hefty £1795 and £2295 respectively per pair!

Well outside my price range, sadly, but the toe-links, which replace the OEM track rod ends, are a more affordable £395 a set and offer “increased steering feel and faster, more consistent response” as well as “eliminating bump steer”.

Iain said that the biggest gains were attained with the upper control arms, but that the toe-links alone would provide a noticeable improvement in steering feel.

So as Stealthzilla was due a geometry check after recently switching back to Toyo R888s (see evo issue 199), I decided to have the upgraded toe-links fitted.

The drive up to Litchfield’s was a delight, as I revelled in the sharper response and massive grip of the new R compound tyres. Their noticeably stiffer sidewalls over the previous Michelin Pilot Super Sports did firm up the ride substantially, but they also transferred inputs into the Litchfield suspension kit more directly and gave the custom re-valved Bilstein dampers more chance to show their brilliance.

The stiffer sidewalls also translated steering input more immediately into direction change output.

Before

Was there a dramatic change after the toe-links were fitted? The GT-R’s steering is a pretty feelsome setup anyway, but on the road back home, there was a subtle additional layer of feedback allowed to filter through.

After

The wider and stickier tyres tramline more than the Michelins and the tweaked “track spec” geometry exacerbated that, but there was no missing the fact that the front end was now even more direct and responsive.

Of course, their true worth or otherwise will only be fully revealed on track, and there is an interesting track event on the cards for Stealthzilla soon…

 
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