For many modern vehicles, electronically adjustable suspensions are a standard feature. Depending on your personal opinion, this is either a curse or a blessing. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at this topic. We will also be borrowing an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio from Garage-Pneuhaus Carlone AG from beautiful Switzerland.
While some people are happy that they can turn their car into an uncompromising track tool for the Nordschleife at the push of a button. Thanks to an electronic standard chassis, track day drivers are tired of advertising messages from the manufacturers and instead opt to replace these advertised standard suspensions immediately.
Why this is so, is easily explained. While the focus, for instance, is on a motorsport suspension designed for the racetrack and the tough competition with a racecar with motorsports tires, the development of a coilover suspension kit for the road is subject to one or two compromises.
Some time ago, KW’s specialized trade partner and Nordschleife expert, Udo Frey, once conquered “The Green Hell” with a Hyundai i30 N, which is equipped with an adaptive standard chassis ex works. He put the production chassis through its paces and switched to a KW Clubsport, which surpasses the production chassis in all aspects:
“The adaptive standard suspension in the i30 N is fun – without question and is very safely balanced in terms of handling, but for fast lap times, more grip and precise damping are required on the right sections of the track. In whichever OEM damping mode, the car either jumps more on short bumps and tends to roll more on corners. If you ride the KW Clubsport in everyday life, then driving with a moderate camber setting is a pleasure, just like on the Nordschleife – because everyone praises what Nürburgring has successfully tested!
If you want to read more about the Hyundai i30 N with KW Clubsport, you can do so here on our KW automotive blog.
Bigger compromise for a road car?
It should be clear to everyone that the entire vehicle construction of a road car is a big compromise. Every road, every driver, every car – even from the same model series – and even every tire is different. It does not even require a particularly sensitive driving ability to feel the difference. And for a reason, we emphasize, the “perfect suspension for every demand.”
When we develop a KW Clubsport coilover suspension system we take into account that the suspension has a parts certificate and that it must not only provide excellent performance on racetracks but also function in everyday life.
With a pure road coilover suspension, such as the KW Variant 1, KW Variant 2, KW Variant 3, KW Variant 4 and KW Variant 5, and an adaptive KW DDC plug & play or DDC ECU, the requirements are that the vehicle is mostly or only driven in everyday use, in near-series condition and in a sporty manner – summer or winter and even more importantly, with or without a mother-in-law on board.
In contrast, the development of series vehicles is influenced also by some further factors. According to which segment (A-segment e.g. Fiat 500, B-segment e.g. VW Polo, C-segment e.g. Ford Focus RS, D-segment e.g. Mercedes-Benz C-Class, E-segment e.g. BMW 5 Series and F-segment e.g. Ferrari 458) the respective car model is placed, it has this or that level of equipment and technology. The target group for which the respective vehicle was designed is also important.
No matter which KW coilover suspension you decide on at the end of the day, all of them increase the driving dynamics in their assigned area “Track Performance”, “Street Performance” and “Street Comfort”– and focus more or less on the remaining driving comfort or even the gain in driving comfort, in addition to the stepless lowering.
While on track days, the focus is more on gaining faster corner speeds than an increase of ride comfort. It is understandable that with an adaptive KW DDC coilover suspension, everyday driving comfort is much more important which is taking into account with a KW Clubsport coilover suspension kit.
What makes a KW DDC plug & play coilover suspension so special?
Besides the easy installation of a KW DDC plug & play coilover suspension kit and the compatibility with the most important and widespread damper control systems on the market, many drivers with an installed KW DDC plug&play coilover suspension kit are happy that it simply drives so harmoniously and sporty in their daily lives.
This does not mean that an adaptive KW DDC plug & play coilover suspension can’t perform on a racetrack; in theory, it does. It even outperforms a large number of production suspensions. But, like a KW coilover suspension from the “KW Street Performance” category, it does not come close to the driving dynamics and performance of a KW Clubsport coilover suspension or even a KW Competition racing suspension kit.
This is simply because the KW DDC plug & play coilover kit has been developed for everyday use on the road. In everyday life, whether on the highway, the country road, or a well-developed federal highway, the same forces never occur as on a racetrack. This is also one of the reasons why, for example, in motorsports, real racecars are used instead of sporty production cars. A current Porsche 911 turbo S for the road and a Porsche 911 GT3 R racing car are separated by far more than just the odd screw and the odd comfort feature …
All our KW coilover kits in the “Street Performance” and “Street Comfort” categories are basically developed according to our well-known KW road setup philosophy, “As sporty as necessary, as comfortable as possible.” KW Street Comfort is even a nuance more comfortable on the road.
The KW DDC plug & play coilover suspension kit also features the ability to switch from KW typical driving behavior to a comfortable “cruise mode” and a more stringent “sport mode” at the touch of a button in just a few milliseconds. Of course, our Swiss Alfa driver also likes this.
According to Guiseppe Carlone, who equipped the Quadrifoglio with a KW DDC plug&play coilover suspension together with Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires, the ex-works well handling the road and his Alfa Romeo has been completely transformed. The fact that his Giulia looks even better due to the lowering of the suspension is a bonus!
“The limousine hardly tends to pitch noticeably even with rapid load changes and drives very comfortably and more suitable for everyday use at the touch of a button. The KW DDC is also impressive in sports mode. It’s really fun to drive.” Besides, the Swiss have also improved the performance of their “Bella Macchina” a little. Thanks to the “Carlone Track Package” with sports catalytic converters and software optimization, the BiTurbo-V6 now has 914 Nm and 603 hp! Even with this power, the KW DDC dampers, which were assembled by hand at our Fichtenberg Factory in Germany, can easily cope with this.
But the KW DDC plug & play is even better. Being compatible with numerous electronic control systems, it is also controlled adaptively according to the vehicle model. So to say, it adapts autonomously to the respective driving situation, provided that the standard chassis control electronics support an adaptive damper control.
While our KW DDC plug & play for the Ford Focus RS has adaptive damper valves, the RS is not equipped with adaptive suspension electronics to ex-works due to its intended market segmentation.
The damper control does not react to driving impulses in the Ford. In the RS, the damper control changes only at the push of a button. Despite the several driving modes, the Focus RS basically has only two suspension settings from the factory. You can see in this video how the KW DDC plug & play in the Focus RS drives on bad roads.
Should you buy an adaptive coilover suspension or not?
That is not so easy to answer. If your vehicle has factory-fitted adaptive dampers and you want to drive on racetracks more often than once or twice a year, it is recommended to buy a suspension that can be separately adjusted several times in compression and rebound forces. Preferably a coilover suspension that has also been developed for regular track day use.
A single (only rebound adjustment) or parallel adjustment (rebound and compression adjustment at once) will not get you anywhere at the end of the day on the Nordschleife or any other racetrack. With a KW Clubsport suspension or a motorsport suspension on the other hand, even with an underpowered track tool, you will be able to stay on par with the other super sports car – even in corners …
If you avoid racetracks and your car is equipped with adaptive dampers ex-works, you should consider installing a KW DDC plug & play coilover suspension – if you really want to keep those comfort features.
Actually, in retrospect, a KW DDC plug & play coilover suspension kit is not even that much more expensive than, for example, a KW Variant 3, since the installation of additional “KW ESC modules” (deactivation of the standard damper control) is not necessary.
For which vehicles are our KW DDC plug & play coilovers already available?
We already have our adaptive KW DDC plug & play coilovers in our product range and are currently expanding our program. Besides Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio (952), our electronically adjustable suspensions are available for many models, such as Audi RS Q3 (F3), BMW 1 Series, BMW 2 Series, BMW 3 Series, BMW 4 Series, BMW X3, BMW X4, BMW M3 (F80), BMW M4 (F82, F83), Ford Focus III RS, Mercedes-Benz C-Class (W204), Mercedes-Benz E-Class (207), Seat Ateca (5FP), Seat Leon (5F), Skoda Kodiaq (NS), Skoda Octavia (5E), Skoda Superb III (3T, model year 2016), VW Bus T6, VW Golf, VW Passat (B6, B7, B8, 3C, 3CC), VW Scirocco (13), VW Tiguan II (5N) and others.
If there is no adaptive suspension available for your vehicle, e.g. Audi used to work only with a Magnetic Ride” technology, it is also possible to retrofit an adaptive KW DDC ECU coilover suspension including the vehicle-specific wiring harness, KW suspension control unit, etc.
Photos KW, RingRaceShoot, SthrnStnce, private