More often than not, we recognize the words related to the suspension rather than understanding exactly what they mean. For luxury cars, we expect a smoother, more comfortable suspension, and for sports cars, we want something that offers a bit more performance. Some high-end cars even offer the ability to switch between suspension modes, allowing the driver to choose between comfort or sport modes with the turn of a dial. You may notice the difference, but what actually sets them apart.
Without getting into the nitty-gritty details of the many mechanical components that make up the car’s suspension, a performance suspension can make a big difference in a car’s driving quality. This can be good or bad, depending on what you want from a car. A sporty suspension is referred to as tighter or sometimes stiffer. That’s because there is less play in the car’s suspension mechanisms, and it is less able to absorb the impact of bumps and dips in the road.
The benefit of this is that the lack of play allows the car to handle more aggressively. It minimizes factors like body roll, which is noticeable when corning too fast, something that sports cars often do, and the most capable cornering cars, like the Lotus Elise, do with expert-like precision. To get this performance, you do sacrifice a more comfortable ride quality.
As the name implies, and the mode typically reflects, a comfort suspension is, in fact, more comfortable. The mechanisms like the springs and dampers have more flexibility, allowing the car’s suspension to absorb as much of the imperfections in the road as possible. With a comfort suspension, however, you can feel the weight of the car as you corner much more than with a stiffer suspension.
Picking the right one
Picking the right suspension really has to do with what you are looking to get out of your car. If you prefer a sportier driving experience, a car with a harder suspension might be the right choice. If you prefer luxury, a comfort suspension will be more your taste. Luckily for us, many cars have begun to offer both options, which can be changed between at the turn of a knob, or the press of a button, so you can get the best of both worlds without much compromise.
You don’t necessarily need to understand each mechanical component of the suspension to understand what the key difference in them are. If you’ve driven in a car with extremely soft or extremely hard suspension set ups, chances are you’re very aware how much of a difference these underrated mechanical components actually are.