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poor handling vs poor cornering technique?

jimmo Feb 16, 2013

  1. jimmo

    jimmo Member

    I've seen a few posts while exploring the forum about improving the S3's handling in corners with (non-cosmetic) talk about lowering, ARB's etc. and they've got me wondering...

    You see, I think the stock setup handles pretty well at fast but non-reckless speeds on a public road. But then again, I don't claim to be a good or hyper-fast driver.

    However, I've been impressed with the stock S3 in the corners. I've had no problem at all powering through, as long as I've got the breaking point and poise of the vehicle correct, so that I'm not incorrectly loading the suspension...allowing the early application of power for a nice slingshot through the bend to the exit. Smooth. Fast. Fun!

    I confess, I've never tried pushing the car to its limits on the street and purely as a personal opinion without any implied criticism, I don't think it's responsible to do so...take it to the track. But frankly, I've seen a lot of squids who are quick in a straight line but **** in the bends, so I've never felt the need to go balls-out anyway. My lousy old 1.6 could take tight bends better than much pricier tackle, simply because the other driver went yammering in too fast, braking too late and on the wrong line. They'd blow past me on the straight, of course, but then *shrug* - any old cock can press the loud pedal. :)

    Do we blame the handling when most of the problem might actually be behind the wheel? How many drivers are actually so good that their skills exceed the set-up of the stock car, so that modification is required? Any pro drivers here have an opinion?

    (To be clear, I am absolutely not knocking doing the mods at all, I get the desire to improve...I'm just wondering if the alleged handling issues are really that much of an issue vs driver technique. I do hope my question doesn't come over as contentious, that's not my intention)

    Ben2487 likes this.
  2. JPK

    JPK Active Member

    Another thing to consider is that simply 'lowering' a car without supporting upgrades to suit the new height can (more often than not) make you end up with a car that doesn't handle as well as a stock example. Especially on a car as well sorted from factory as S and RS models.
  3. JudderMan

    JudderMan Well-Known Member

    Ahhh a thread that's right up my street. I'm not a pro driver but have lots of karting experience and have been commented on by a BTCC driver, which is something I'm quite proud of (not in a big headed way, I just think it's cool that he paid me a compliment). Too many people these days rely on mechanical grip, driver aids and 'hoping for the best'. There's very little skill involved, as you mention any old knobber can hoof the throttle, and lots of people end up in a big accident as cars these days have high thresholds so the accident speeds are much higher.

    I've mentioned previously on the forum that my old mk2 escort had 85bhp and was literally the most fun I've ever had in a road car and at legal speeds. Learning RWD made me relearn how to drive. No driver aids. No messing about. You fly into a corner too fast, understeer then snap oversteer and you're in the hedge so you respect the car and every other cars following that. My minis were the same except they just had ultimate grip and a whopping 35bhp. Now with 150bhp I feel that I can't use it. The top end of 2nd is the national speed limit, and it just seems pointless to nail it. Track days are on the cards, though.

    Agreed with the above as well about lowering. Car manufacturers go through huge amounts of time and R&D to get geometry just right. If it's not set up properly afterwards then you might as well forget it when you arrive at the first corner.
  4. gixerson

    gixerson Member

    2 clear distinctions there, the road v the track.

    On the road i really don't care about racing, i'm not saying i've never broke a speed limit, it's just i stick to a pace that i'm comfortable with depending on the conditions, road, area (i.e. quiet country road, town etc), time of day (20mph past a school at kicking out time is reckless speeding IMO, 100mph on a quiet motorway in good conditions is as safe as 70mph again IMO).

    If someone wants to drive faster than me then that's their choice, i'll not change my speed or driving.

    So on the road my first priority is safety to other road users, pedestrians etc, with this in mind i will not push the limits of my car or get anywhere near them on a public road.

    That said on a open clear road with plenty of visibility my "limit" will be different depending on what car i'm driving.
    With my A3 i find that i rarely drive it fast simply because there is no point.
    The handling is grippy but extremely dull, the steering is even worse i've captained yachts that had more feeling.

    So there is absolutely nothing that inspires me to "press on"

    If i jump in my MX5 on the other hand i'm getting great feedback through all control points and although the stock motor is a bit dull with around 240bhp and the scream of a SC your getting a full on senses alert.
    Throw into that mix lower grip and it's easily possible to have a fantastic drive that's fun and involving without straying too much outside speed limits.

    Even on the track although the A3 is faster it's so dull to drive that i'd sooner jump in for a passenger ride in someone elses car (about as much feedback as well :laugh:)

    I agree entirely about the aftermarket shocks and lowering as well.
    Had a bet with a mate a few years back, he'd bought some cheap shocks and springs and was singing their praises about how much faster the car was and how much better the feel was.
    After a test drive i found the car barely drivable, the springs were wayyyyyyyy to firm and the suspension was THAT low it was pretty much resting on the bumpstops even when parked.

    So we got into a argument, my side was he'd ruined his car, his side was how much faster the car was.

    Few days later were were out in a group of several cars, we took in a private road we sometimes use that's a great stretch of road but is in terrible condition bumps wise, when we had parked up the other end we were waiting ages for the last few to arrive, when they did they were all complaining about "new suspension mate" was holding them all up.

    So to cut the story short we took a 100% stock car and did a timed run of 50 secs.
    The best run my mate did was 1:05 a full 15 secs slower (same driver)
    The bet was then layed that if i fitted 100% stock shocks and springs his car would be faster.
    I won the bet.

    Folks seem to think a hard ride is faster where that's simply not the case, generally the firmer you go the less grip you get as the tyres is doing the work the suspension should be doing.

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