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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > BMW E90/E92/E93 3-series General Forums > Regional Forums > UK > Ride quality. Are we missing something?



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      02-20-2013, 04:54 AM   #1
JonEdwards
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Ride quality. Are we missing something?

So I got a lift to a bike race last night in my mate's knackered old Mk1 Focus. Noisy, tinny, shabby, squeaky/rattly compared to my 320D.

...but...

Despite being ragged over speedbumps, thrashed across broken tarmac and potholes at speeds I'd have expected to rip the wheels off my beemer, both ride quality and body control were exemplary, despite having 2 fairly hefty bikes hanging off the back bumper on a rack. It was comfortable! But still no body roll in corners, no crashing/dropping on the potholes, no wild lurching when hitting the speedbumps. Just smooth forward progress.

So what's going on? My M-sport is on stock 17" wheels & non-RFT winter tyres at the mo. Dampers and springs (Eibach Pro and Bilstein B4S respectively) were only fitted about 4k miles ago, and were a definite improvement in control on the old stock M-sport kit. (ride is stiffer, but less lurching, and handling is more precise/pointy)

I was genuinely shocked by how much difference there was - knackered old shed, vs high quality, well maintained german engineering marvel.

Thoughts...?

Cheers,

Jon
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      02-20-2013, 04:57 AM   #2
Sparky68
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All about the weight, Focus is a lot lighter on its feet.
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      02-20-2013, 05:04 AM   #3
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The Focus has always been a brilliant handling/riding car.
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      02-20-2013, 05:16 AM   #4
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I've recently jumped back into a BM after a 6 month gap. Which has come as a stark reminder just how bad run flats are.My wife's SLK on 18's with AMG's Sport damping is in another level. So much so I'm thinking of shelling out 1200 on a set of proper tyres.
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      02-20-2013, 05:25 AM   #5
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Despite having recently stepped into an E92 with 19" 313 wheels and the OEM Bridgestone Potenza runflats, I'm actually not complaining - the ride is firm but far, far better damped and less crashy than my old car!

But I'm suspecting it doesn't compare favourably to other vehicles it competes against. The 19" wheels obviously don't help - although there's no denying they look good.

Isn't the problem due to BMW's philosophy on suspension setup? It may all have been marketing guff, but I remember reading an article about Birds' suspension replacement which uses much softer springs in conjunction with stronger anti-roll bars. Whereas BMW control the roll and weight transfer with excessively stiff springs.

The thought of fitting the Birds suspension upgrade to my car, so that it rides smoothly over our battered and pot-holed A- and B-roads while still handling tidily, is appealling, but I doubt I can afford it for quite a while!
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      02-20-2013, 05:42 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stroberaver View Post
Despite having recently stepped into an E92 with 19" 313 wheels and the OEM Bridgestone Potenza runflats, I'm actually not complaining - the ride is firm but far, far better damped and less crashy than my old car!

But I'm suspecting it doesn't compare favourably to other vehicles it competes against. The 19" wheels obviously don't help - although there's no denying they look good.

Isn't the problem due to BMW's philosophy on suspension setup? It may all have been marketing guff, but I remember reading an article about Birds' suspension replacement which uses much softer springs in conjunction with stronger anti-roll bars. Whereas BMW control the roll and weight transfer with excessively stiff springs.

The thought of fitting the Birds suspension upgrade to my car, so that it rides smoothly over our battered and pot-holed A- and B-roads while still handling tidily, is appealling, but I doubt I can afford it for quite a while!

Check out the classified section. Someone is selling a set which may fit your car
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      02-20-2013, 05:43 AM   #7
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It's been an ever growing problem for most manufacturers who produce any cars with sporting pretensions for at least the last 5 years now but BMW and Audi definitely seem the worst at the moment. Mercedes had till now managed to avoid this trap but even their new crop of cars seem to have succumbed with every review of the new A class commenting on how dire the ride quality is.

I blame two things.

1) Most German cars are developed at the Ring, this makes the cars faster on a track but woeful on the road. People saying the Ring is challenging enough to test a cars suspension are talking rubbish, there are only a couple of sections where the ring has bad surfacing, the rest of it is billiard smooth compared to our roads.

2) There are two ways to make a car handle well, one is to use the tyres, suspension, anti-roll bars, weight of the car, CoG in harmony to make the car work in all conditions which is what Lotus and Jaguar do and are very good at it, the other is to fit the cheapest stiffest springs you can and sod the ride quality as long as the car can corner 0.2 seconds quicker, guess which option the Germans choose?

The automotive press have massive blame in leading us down this path IMO. For years they've banged on about how quick road cars are at going round a circuit because it sells copies and is more exciting than saying "ohh it rides really well on our crap roads"

I love my 335i despite this massive flaw BUT my next car will not be a BMW or Audi until they sort out this mess.
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      02-20-2013, 06:05 AM   #8
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As the kerb weight of modern cars increases model too model. So too does the spring rate if the cars expected to have "sporty handling"
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      02-20-2013, 07:03 AM   #9
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Apart from the comments made above about having to use suspension and tyres to compensate for heavier cars to continue handling well - whats to say that he does the same thing tomorrow and damaged a wheel or breaks part of his suspension.

It will break eventually, it might already be broken.
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      02-20-2013, 07:33 AM   #10
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Hmm, coming from my E46 on 17" wheels the ride on my E93 with 19" wheels isn't that bad. I reckon it'd be fine on smaller wheels.

Maybe your suspension components are worn?

Ok, the ride quality is nowhere near as good as it was on my Dad's old Volvo 760 but that's the price of handling on the twisties.

A Focus rides and handles well but weighs less as others have said, and also lets go a lot sooner than your BMW will.
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      02-20-2013, 09:09 AM   #11
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Quote:
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Ok, the ride quality is nowhere near as good as it was on my Dad's old Volvo 760 but that's the price of handling on the twisties.
See I have to disagree with this statement, decent handling in the twisties and decent ride quality aren't mutually exclusive. Try a Jag or Lotus to see what I mean, it's just that it's easier\cheaper to just fit stiffer springs. Not a problem in the home market as German roads are very good but totally unsuited to the UK.

Time was when a lot of manufacturers would actually change spring rates or suspension setups specifically for the UK market but again that has fallen by the wayside in the name of cost cutting.
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      02-20-2013, 09:24 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guvernator View Post
See I have to disagree with this statement, decent handling in the twisties and decent ride quality aren't mutually exclusive. Try a Jag or Lotus to see what I mean, it's just that it's easier\cheaper to just fit stiffer springs. Not a problem in the home market as German roads are very good but totally unsuited to the UK.

Time was when a lot of manufacturers would actually change spring rates or suspension setups specifically for the UK market but again that has fallen by the wayside in the name of cost cutting.
True. I drove an XK on 20's last year and the ride was sublime. Interior was naff, but the ride wasn't.
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      02-20-2013, 10:08 AM   #13
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The thing I don't understand is that I know they test these cars on crap surfaces during development. They have these bad surface pits that they put all cars through (I know it's true as I saw it on Top Gear once) so what I really can't understand is why the person who tested a 3 series on RFT 19's didn't immediately jump out and say "Ere fella's, this is a bit crap, my fillings have fallen out" or is it a case that they did but Hans replied "Yes ve know but ve have to be faster than Audi at ze Ring, and besides Bridgestone have given us zis great deal on some cheap 19" alloys and run flat tires"
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      02-20-2013, 10:08 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guvernator View Post
It's been an ever growing problem for most manufacturers who produce any cars with sporting pretensions for at least the last 5 years now but BMW and Audi definitely seem the worst at the moment. Mercedes had till now managed to avoid this trap but even their new crop of cars seem to have succumbed with every review of the new A class commenting on how dire the ride quality is.

I blame two things.

1) Most German cars are developed at the Ring, this makes the cars faster on a track but woeful on the road. People saying the Ring is challenging enough to test a cars suspension are talking rubbish, there are only a couple of sections where the ring has bad surfacing, the rest of it is billiard smooth compared to our roads.

2) There are two ways to make a car handle well, one is to use the tyres, suspension, anti-roll bars, weight of the car, CoG in harmony to make the car work in all conditions which is what Lotus and Jaguar do and are very good at it, the other is to fit the cheapest stiffest springs you can and sod the ride quality as long as the car can corner 0.2 seconds quicker, guess which option the Germans choose?

The automotive press have massive blame in leading us down this path IMO. For years they've banged on about how quick road cars are at going round a circuit because it sells copies and is more exciting than saying "ohh it rides really well on our crap roads"

I love my 335i despite this massive flaw BUT my next car will not be a BMW or Audi until they sort out this mess.
You are coming from the the same place as me. I'll add, customers have also allowed this to happen, accepting poor ride quality in the name of pseudo sportiness. In my view BMW got away with under-developed run-flats, as many were already putting on oversize wheels which indicated ride quality wasn't high on the priority list for many BMW drivers.

I remember when my E91 330d touring (SE suspension 17" wheels) was still quite new, I had a Ford Mondeo for the afternoon and I couldn't believe how refined the Zetec ride was, compared to my BMW. I knew then that to get what I wanted from the BMW, I'd have to change the tyres and damping, which of course changed the BMW into a much more refined drive.

The latest 3 and 5-series cars are getting back to better rides, but many bemoan the softer ride. At least we now have adaptive suspension options which definitely refine the ride quality.

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      02-20-2013, 10:14 AM   #15
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You are right, we've somehow been conditioned into believing that sport must equal firm\too stiff so the stiffer a car, the more sportier it is which is why people are complaining that the ride on the new one's is too soft. However I've always held that people on the whole are pretty stupid and as a mass are way too easily influenced\led, often to there detriment.
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      02-20-2013, 10:16 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HighlandPete View Post
At least we now have adaptive suspension options which definitely refine the ride quality.

HighlandPete

That's a very good point. More and more cars have the option for AS. Maybe manufacturers see this as the answer. They can just change the software from Country to Country.
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      02-20-2013, 10:24 AM   #17
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the problem is not with the car but our crap neglected roads (understandable when there are benefit recipients needing new houses for their 11 children). my track car rides well at brands with rock hard suspension but drive it along the ride and it shakes your teeth out.
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      02-20-2013, 10:26 AM   #18
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I've always said the same re: Focus.

It is simply better at traversing twisty, uneven, camber switching roads than my BMW. No tram-lining and sweet, feelsome steering make it a real blast. In the BMW I am continually scanning ahead and correcting the steering. And wince when I miss a pothole ... and hold onto the fillings.

Apart from many understanding what is actually happening with the different suspension and RFTs, when I mention that I prefer the Ford to some people, their opinion is STILL based on perceived brand values - and the knee-jerk response is "It's a BMW, that's just a Ford".

Add badge snobbery to the list of why people accept it. I thole it.

The new adaptive suspension, coupled with electric steering on the new F30s ... made me feel like I was driving a video game. Very detached feeling.

D.
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      02-20-2013, 01:11 PM   #19
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I agree that road quality is a big part of the issue, but is there any hope that it will be any different? Also believe roads have been bad for many years and we still have opted for trying to have sporty setups for road cars, which must cope with a wide range of road surfaces.

Problem is made worse by RFTs, which don't have such a wide working envelope as a conventional tyre.

I've opted for the full Adaptive Drive options on my current 5-series, keeping wheels to a sensible size, 18" summer and 17" winter tyres. VDC and ARS makes all the difference. It is clear the suspension is not such a tight set of compromises as a passive sport setup, plus the 3 program modes. The active roll bar option, that can virtually de-couple on the straight and actively stiffen up for the bends, even in comfort mode, enhances ride comfort no end on poor roads.

But to be blunt here, we do really get what we deserve, if we opt for BMW lowered sport suspension and big rims with very low profile tyres. Everything we don't really want for ride comfort. Suspension is a set of compromises anyway, we have to choose carefully to get the best ride comfort in a BMW these days. It used to come as standard years ago.....

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      02-25-2013, 06:31 AM   #20
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      02-26-2013, 06:15 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acerboo View Post
the problem is not with the car but our crap neglected roads (understandable when there are benefit recipients needing new houses for their 11 children). my track car rides well at brands with rock hard suspension but drive it along the ride and it shakes your teeth out.
Quite right, but in our grim PC world we won't get the roads fixed anytime soon.- The glaringly obvious answer is for BMW to buy Lotus (they need rescuing!!) and use their chassis engineers to engineer suspension for specific market areas. Of course it won't happen because it is only a minority of informed buyers like people on this forum, who know there is a problem!
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