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      03-06-2008, 10:21 AM   #22
Lieutenant Colonel

Drives: Legacy GT - 13.704@99.39
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Manheim, PA

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Originally Posted by rstringer View Post
What really gets me is that I don't understand why they did that. We all agree that those bmw engineers are brilliant therefore I like to believe that this was by design. But since a heavier steering is more desirable in such a sporty and powerful car I can't understand their reasoning.

I wish some bmw engineers would frequent thes sites and shed some light on these issues .I think most of us would love toknow what goes on in their heads.
As they say, all engineering is compromise, and it's quite possible that this car is more of a track rat than the E46 was. I have yet to drive one, but sifting through the various road tests, it seems that the steering complaints in regard to street use fade away on track, and in that venue the car seems to come alive.

It's extremely difficult to design the perfect system for all extremes of use, and with the built-in penalties of size and weight that this car has (for track use), it's very possible that BMW had to go to more extensive compromising in order to get the thing to really feel perfectly at home out on the 'Ring.

Of course, I'm basically making this up, but as a perfect illustration of the concept, you have only to sample pretty much any of the Jeep offerings. On the street, the steering feels pretty vague, with built-in slop compared to pretty much anything even remotely sporty. That slop is designed in so to speak, and for serious off-road work, the steering works absolutely perfectly. When you whack a ten-inch rock ledge, the various bushings in the system have the perfect amount of give to allow the driver to retain control without having the steering wheel ripped out of his or her hands. Jeep takes their off-road reputation seriously (as well they should), and they're perfectly willing to give up some on-road tightness and precision in order to give them off-road greatness.

By the way, mentioning bushings in this topic is important, because you can't just swap steering racks and paraphernalia from one car to another and expect anything good to happen. The entire system is what needs to get breathed on when you make such a change. That would include the bushings, obviously, but also the clearances that the bushings fill, and even basic geometries may need to be tweaked.

From my point of view, this is as much about art as it is about science, and BMW certainly employs true artists in their chassis and suspension design departments.

I'm personally beginning to get a glimmer of hope about this car, despite my huge disappointment about its size and weight. The "fact" (meaning my supposition) that BMW has made some sacrifice in street feel in order to arrive at track beauty means to me that these guys are back to getting serious about the dual-purpose nature of the beast. I say


PS - An anecdote about engineering compromise: One of the greatest facts I ever learned about the Air Force SR-71 "Blackbird", that high altitude mach 3 wonder machine (from Lockheed, I think), was that when you put enough fuel in it for takeoff and getting up into the air for an in-flight fueling rendezvous, it would sit there on the pad and leak.

Think about that. What kind of far out, state-of-the-art engineering were those guys into that meant it was OK for a plane to dribble fuel all over the place when sitting on the ground? That's another