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View Full Version : OT: car reviews that mention "vague steering feel"


eddief
03-26-2016, 06:59 PM
Seems like most reviews I read suggest that most middle of the road cars have vague steering feel. I would guess most performance-oriented cars (BMW?) don't get described this way. Is vague steering the result of over done power steering or is it more complicated and include the entire front suspension? Shouldn't good steering feel be a no brainer in new cars?

Mikej
03-26-2016, 07:08 PM
Virtually all cars are electronic steering now- electric motors for integration of the on board computers. They need to do this for braking stability etc. power pump hydraulic steering feels different - I heard

Ken Robb
03-26-2016, 07:11 PM
Drivers of high performance cars value the feel of the road that they get through the steering wheel so they can better judge how close the front tires may be to losing traction so they can adjust their speed accordingly.

People not interested in driving near the limit either don't care about having this feel or prefer to have as little as possible so their cars feel as smooth as possible. These folks also prefer a ride isolated from as much vibration and noise as possible. Twenty years ago I would have said to compare the sporty feel of a BMW vs. the isolation and silence of a Lexus as an easy comparison of two different approaches to two fine but different automobiles. Now many Lexus models have become "sportier" and many BMWs have become less sporty and a bit cushier.

Schmed
03-26-2016, 07:21 PM
If you think about the contact points of a car (seat, steering, shifter, bakes, throttle), those are key attributes to a car's interaction with the driver.

Historically, BMWs had great feedback, road feel, and driver involvement. My 1991 M3 makes you feel one with the car and one with the road. It does NOT isolate the driver from the road. And that makes it one of the best cars every made (no, I'm not biased!!!).

Newer cars (BMW included) seem to have lost that connection to the road. Luxury cars seem to isolate driver from road. I HATE that. :)

Ever drive a go kart? Know why they are so fun? Connection to the road. Like old BMWs, Porsches, etc.

fogrider
03-26-2016, 07:38 PM
many new BMWs have many options when it comes to ride and steering. since everything is computer controlled, it can be adjusted. some feel that the BMW controls are pretty convoluted.

the other big difference is in the tires, the cushy feel comes from high profile all session tires and performance cars get low profile tires.

jchasse
03-26-2016, 07:43 PM
If you think about the contact points of a car (seat, steering, shifter, bakes, throttle), those are key attributes to a car's interaction with the driver.

Historically, BMWs had great feedback, road feel, and driver involvement. My 1991 M3 makes you feel one with the car and one with the road. It does NOT isolate the driver from the road. And that makes it one of the best cars every made (no, I'm not biased!!!).

Newer cars (BMW included) seem to have lost that connection to the road. Luxury cars seem to isolate driver from road. I HATE that. :)

Ever drive a go kart? Know why they are so fun? Connection to the road. Like old BMWs, Porsches, etc.

I think it's sort of this. ^^

I'm not an automotive engineer, but I think it boils down to how much "stuff" there is, particularly electronics, between the tires' contact patch and your hands on the steering wheel. When I bought a bone stock 944 turbo to turn into a dedicated track/racing car, it was undeniably a great handling car. But when I got rid of the power steering entirely, it got worlds better. (It also made it impossible for my wife to park - she couldn't turn the steering wheel with big fat race compound tires on the car when it was at parking speed.)

Ken makes a good point - driving on the limit (which you can't ethically do on the street) really brings it into focus. With straight up unassisted mechanical steering linkages, you feel every undulation in the road as the tug on the wheel in your hands. It could be described as feeling "heavy"...there's physical exertion involved in steering the car. And when you reach the front wheels' cornering limits, the steering suddenly gets light. Not a good thing.

I have no idea how this translates into which modern cars have more vague steering feel than others. But I know that some feel better than others. I'd venture to say that lighter modern cars probably feel less vague than heavy ones? But that may have no merit whatsoever. And even if it does, it's probably not a direct function of weight, but more in the car's intended audience and design.

And I suppose little of what I'm talking about translates to the street. On the track, when you're at the limit under hard cornering, you really are steering about as much with the throttle and brakes anyway :)

Tickdoc
03-26-2016, 08:01 PM
Another car post that makes me want an old bmw.

My 2001 525i has it

My 2001 330i had it

The new ones don't :(

My wife's New Volvo XC90 takes this newfangled technology to a whole 'nuther level.

Beyond numbness, it nudges you back in the lane if you're ever close to the line.

Scary when you are on a narrow road and a vehicle in the opposite direction is on the line. It wants to nudge you into them. You can override it, but scary nonetheless.

You can dial it up to a tighter albeit fake feel.

In my old wagon, you can feel yourself driving over a quarter in the road. Good feel.

FlashUNC
03-26-2016, 08:03 PM
tl;dr version: Electric power steering vs. hydraulic power steering.

eddief
03-26-2016, 08:22 PM
how do they do it and not Toyota...Camry? Is it about dollars or simply giving a darn?

grawk
03-26-2016, 08:27 PM
I think most people don't actually want road feel is why they don't do it on the camry.

pjm
03-26-2016, 09:05 PM
Most Camry drivers would not like the ride of a Mazda 6. They would think it too firm. They don't really care about the sporty handling that the Mazda offers. They prefer to be isolated from the driving experience. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Toyota know who there customers are, and there are apparently lots of them.

Tickdoc
03-26-2016, 09:10 PM
Most Camry drivers would not like the ride of a Mazda 6. They would think it too firm. They don't really care about the sporty handling that the Mazda offers. They prefer to be isolated from the driving experience. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Can't speak for a Camry, but my dad had an Avalon that was like a Japanese Lincoln of old.

Big, spacious, quiet, and drove like a barge. Almost slammed into cars every time I drove it because there was like a two second lag from the time you either pushed a pedal or turned the wheel.

I felt like I was drugged when I drove that car.

No thank you.

ultraman6970
03-26-2016, 09:18 PM
With bicycles is the samething, guys love to have no feedback from the road for some reason.

palincss
03-26-2016, 09:22 PM
With bicycles is the samething, guys love to have no feedback from the road for some reason.

There is a difference between feedback that lets you know when you are coming close to the limit of adhesion and vibration that makes your hands go all pins and needles.

Ken Robb
03-26-2016, 10:16 PM
how do they do it and not Toyota...Camry? Is it about dollars or simply giving a darn?
We have a 2014 Mazda 3 sedan and it drives very much like my 1985 BMW 535i but it's faster, gets better mileage and has most of the latest electronic features for sound, nav, communication. It has great steering feel and the first automatic transmission I have had since 1984 and it thinks and shifts like I do with the manual in my MINI Cooper S. Mazda makes cars for people who like to drive. Toyotas are for people who want isolation. Hondas are in between. They are all very dependable and cheap to service. $150 for 3 service visits in 20,000 miles and 32+ MPG overall. We have the 2.5L 185 HP engine.

jchasse
03-26-2016, 10:47 PM
Mazda makes cars for people who like to drive.

I'd have to agree. My only experience with Mazda was when i was doing the Spec Miata thing, and their MazdaSpeed program was the coolest thing I've ever experienced with a big car company. Totally opened my eyes.

eddief
03-26-2016, 11:08 PM
to get the best car for crappy rutted freeways and city rumble streets...and one that handles well when that sort of road presents itself. I think it's called a Maziota. Mazda known to handle well but much is said about not good NVH scores. A few more pounds of insulation along with the handling should be next step.

wombatspeed
03-26-2016, 11:10 PM
Same experience here. We have the lowly, most basic edition of the 2008 Mazda 6. 2.3l engine, manual transmission.

My wife said that this is the first car she ever truly enjoyed driving.

As a bike rider/racer I love to play with the apex of turns in a car, too.

Mazda 6= win. Camry = utter fail.

Added bonus: the more direct Mazda steering feel also helps tremendously in feeling how slippery the snow is (and we get lots of it in Wyoming.... Cross country ski conditions are still perfect here ;-))
Obviously, with good winter tires...

FlashUNC
03-26-2016, 11:13 PM
to get the best car for crappy rutted freeways and city rumble streets...and one that handles well when that sort of road presents itself. I think it's called a Maziota. Mazda known to handle well but much is said about not good NVH scores. A few more pounds of insulation along with the handling should be next step.

Added weight is the death of handling and balance. There's a reason Mazda was obsessive about it with the new Miata, even down to reducing the number of axle nuts for the wheels from 5 to 4 to shave grams.

PacNW2Ford
03-26-2016, 11:55 PM
Plus, some of the better handling comes from stiffer suspension mounts and bushings, engine mounts, etc. this results in more NVH that can't be insulated out.