So I’m going to start this off with that I am 100% biased in opposition of an airbag suspension system for cars but I’m going to explain why so, please don’t get too uptight!
It was the year 2019, April 16th to be exact when I bought my used bag setup on Facebook marketplace for only $1500. I thought it was a steal, Airlift performance bags, no rear shocks, the guy had run them in his car for two years, it had been a show car and I thought I was going to be SO cool.
I was going to be one of those bagged on rotiform VW kids. (Literally 90% of them)
They finally arrived, I gave them a look over and decided to buy some replacement bits, I could tell that they were quite worn in some spots but they should defintely be good right?
wrong -Insert horrible flash forward of me shearing the top hat on the one that I hadn’t replaced the bag on- (And that happened In Canada, super fun.)
But before that even happened my Accuair management was broken. Had to buy a new one of those and it was Elevel so that was a PAIN (also this didn’t come until much later). If you don’t know what Elevel is, (well was, actually) I hope you never find out. It’s the height management system and I did not have it professionally installed which I should have.
Installation was actually pretty easy if I’m honest asides from never actually getting the rear sensors to work for me so my alignment was always toast. my new ecu fixed a portion of the problem, I went up to Canada, sheared the bag and changed in one of my old ECS tuning coilovers to limp back home and that leads us to Bags pt. 2: Slams boogaloo
- Bags pt. 2 Slams boogaloo.
I found a set of minorly used airlift slam series bags to replace my front bags. Slams do not have a place for the sway bar end links to attach to so you can throw cornering ability in a trash bag and leave it next to a dumpster like your stock intake to be forgotten about. And let me tell you, I drive a GTI for the budget performance so I didn’t like that and I tried to overlook it.
Soon enough I was on a time crunch to go to an event more than a few states away and not having working height settings really irked me so I set out to fix it now with my new to me front bags, New ECU and I got nowhere after a full day of trying. So I did the most reasonable thing that any person would do.
I ripped the entire air system out and put my old ECS coilovers back in the car which were sized to the original height I lowered the car to and put some new sway bar end links in.
- ECS Coilovers
They’re bargain coilovers for sure, maybe better than Raceland’s? No they’re definitely a little better than Raceland’s in my opinion. But coming from those airlift slams in the front… World of difference. My GTI could take turns like I wanted it to. I was in love with the car again and I felt bad for ever thinking that bags would be cool. I knew that these coilovers days left in my car were numbered though. I needed something better.
- KW v1’s
While still under the impression that I won’t be hardcore tracking my GTI I went the non adjustable route because it is a pain to adjust the coils if you don’t cut away the metal above the coilovers top hats and you have to take the rear shocks out, I also did a ton of other suspension work to the car at that time. (BFI anti lift kit which consists of lower control arms and bushings. Roll control ball joints, ECS rear chassis brace, ECS rear subframe brace, and I went with a new wheels set up. I also have new Sway bars to install but that will wait until next summer most likely) But I absolutely love the way these coilovers feel, they are leagues ahead of the ECS coilovers in how they react to the road.
So here are my final words on this subject.
Bags are great if you’re building a car for show or you have money and time to fix parts that break within the system when they do. Bags blow, air lines break, compressors go bad, maybe you’ll rub through a wire somehow, and maybe your management will fail. I know that people track bagged cars but for me there are just too many possible points of failure.
Coilovers are the way to go for me. There isn’t a semi complicated system where if one thing breaks out of many it could possibly put your car out of commission. Now if a coilover fails that’s obviously a big issue but it should be possible to catch it before it is catastrophic. Coilovers and Bags are around the same price point if you’re going for higher end coilovers so the choice is yours but I’m going coilovers.