That is similar to what I had done on my Neon. I originally just pulled the belt (it was A/C and power steering together on the belt), but the steering was tougher than I liked. So I drained the fluid and looped the lines as well, I didn't add a breather though. It made a pretty big difference having the lines looped.
Overall it was still tougher than the VX, but not too bad at all, and best of all it was free. I did too many changes at one time to quantify the improvement though.
I'm glad to hear it's working out for you, between that and the belly pan it should help quite a bit.