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      09-26-2007, 08:21 PM   #1
lucid
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Does more advanced design/tech mean faster ride with less of an edge in general?

I just read the EVO X review on R&T and noticed parallels between the E46 vs. E92 M3 debate and the EVO IX vs. EVO X observations of the author. The hardcore and edgy vs. softcore and less involved issue. It seems that the discussion is somewhat common--even universal?--and probably confirms a trend we have been commenting on the evolution of the M3. Even before the E92 M3 gets here, let me pose this: do you guys think the next generation M3 will follow that trend, and that we'll be seeing a lot of "BMW has gone soft with the new M3" comments in 6 years?


Relevant excerpts from the EVO X article (the guy beats his own EVO IX time with a EVO X with automanual set in auto mode and poor launc control software):

'Also present at the track was a U.S.-spec 5-speed manual Evo IX, which I took for a few hot laps for comparison. "The Evo X is a nicer car," I told Fujii, "but the Evo IX is edgier and quicker."

Fujii responded barely above a whisper: "The Evo IX just seems quicker. I'm positive that the Evo X is faster around the track. The AYC gives it that edge, and you lose nothing with the TC-SST in S-Sport, even in full auto mode."

No way. This time, I had someone clock me. First up was the Evo IX. The car took off like a bullet, and it exhibited amazing balance through the sweepers and esses. The IX clocked in at 1 minute 55.20 sec. Now it was time for the Evo X in full auto mode. The TC-SST was fantastic, shifting exactly where I would have if I were in control. Also, I realized I was doing much less steering through most of the corners because the car wasn't getting out of shape. I went through the esses without any steering correction, virtually flat-out. I crossed the finish line in 1:54.18, more than a second faster than the IX!

This was enough to convince me that the Evo X, despite being a bit softer around the edges, is a superior car.'

http://www.roadandtrack.com/article....&page_number=2
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      09-26-2007, 08:41 PM   #2
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I think that refinement is a good thing. People tend to object to such advances initially, but come to appreciate them over time. It's evident throughout the ///M line, and it'll most likely prove that way for most vehicles in general as technological advances continue to emerge.
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      09-26-2007, 09:26 PM   #3
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I am sure some auto makers like BMW are pulling out their hair in frustration over some journalistic comments. They gave us a superior car that can do more than the E46 M could but with better balance and refinement.
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      09-26-2007, 09:29 PM   #4
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Good analogy

Good analogy and report from the EVO side of the world. I think it is a general trend. The manufacturers are getting better at making the car "better" in all regards simultaneously and often this means removing some rough edges. The funny thing we have already seen on the M3 side is the M-DCT. Folks (and folks here) are already complaining that the M-DCT will be "too smooth". Not to mention its superior performance in almost all conditions. That option will definitely make the new M3 a real limp/softy/GT car and it clearly won't be much fun.

Last edited by swamp2; 09-27-2007 at 02:17 AM.
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      09-26-2007, 10:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swamp2 View Post
Good analogy and report from the EVO side of the world. I think it is a general trend. The manufacturers are getting better at making the car "better" in all reagrds simultaneously and often this means removing some rough edges. The funny thing we have already seen on the M3 side is the M-DCT. Folks (and folks here) are already complaining that the M-DCT will be "too smooth". Not to mention its superior performance in almost all conditions. That option will definitely make the new M3 a real limp/softy/GT car and it clearly won't be much fun.
Swamp, agree with the trend issue, but not that it will neccessarily result in a limp/softy/GT. If DCT is anything like some of the other dual clutch designs I've sampled it may very well be the 'right' tranny for the E92. Hard to tell at this point but the manufacturers are building them the way we apparently want them - particularly in the US and in NA generally. We want luxury and performance and so the balancing act ensues...

As much as we talk about the CSL, the fact is it just wouldn't sell in the kind of volume required here to make it worthwhile or reasonably priced.
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      09-26-2007, 10:52 PM   #6
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DCT

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Swamp, agree with the trend issue, but not that it will neccessarily result in a limp/softy/GT. If DCT is anything like some of the other dual clutch designs I've sampled it may very well be the 'right' tranny for the E92. Hard to tell at this point but the manufacturers are building them the way we apparently want them - particularly in the US and in NA generally. We want luxury and performance and so the balancing act ensues...

As much as we talk about the CSL, the fact is it just wouldn't sell in the kind of volume required here to make it worthwhile or reasonably priced.
Greg
I think I was not clear on the limp/soft/GT wording. What I meant was that this would be what critics and some who are uninformed will label it although really it is progress.

On the M-DCT what we know is that these dual clutch systems shift REALLY smooth. Others have posted that they "know" already they will miss the neck snapping shifts in SMG at mode S6 at WOT. I am fairly confident the M-DCT will not shift this way. It is entirely inconsistent with its most basic principles and benefits. Cheers.
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      09-26-2007, 11:35 PM   #7
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This is whats called a switch in the paradigm!

No longer does owning a sports car mean a harsh ride and unrefinement!

In a matter of years the trend that Mitsu, Subie, and BMW are starting will carry through in all sports cars and become the norm.

Maybe these same growing pains occured when power steering first found its way into sports cars. I am sure there was a large group that found assisted steering to be too soft or a sacrifice in feel.

Either way, I am glad to see that some of the journalists are catching on... even if it is a Mitsu
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      09-27-2007, 01:22 AM   #8
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Speed and the perception of speed are completly diffrent things. I don't know how many times I have driven students cars that were "fixed" to be faster. What they really did was make them more busy, but slower.

Typically a driver will feel fast if they are busy doign a lot of things with the controls like catching slides, shifting, modulations of the gas and brake, ... In practice they are just distracting themselves from what really makes you fast.

It may be fun but its not fast. Its also not safe in the hands of most drivers.
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      09-27-2007, 02:16 AM   #9
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Similar thoughts - Scuderia

The exact same sentiment here (amazing vid. and sounds BTW). More driveable, smoother and faster shifting than the base F430 as well as still comfortable and easy to drive.

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      09-27-2007, 02:37 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swamp2 View Post
The exact same sentiment here (amazing vid. and sounds BTW). More driveable, smoother and faster shifting than the base F430 as well as still comfortable and easy to drive.


That was a crazy video. He was really excited about driving it.
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      09-27-2007, 05:49 AM   #11
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Having seen that Scuderia vid, all I want to do is take the sound deadening out of my e36.
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      09-27-2007, 07:53 AM   #12
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Good thread lucid.

And good question. I don't know the answer, but tet me post this follow up: Has this effect also been present in race cars? Race cars are purpose built to get around a track the fastest - so, if these soft rides are really outperforming their former rawer, more frantic counterparts, you'd think the race teams would be using this same technology. No?

Obviously there are other factors at play but I think it is a reasonable question. I am not asking you specifically, BTW, its just something for discussion.

Another way to look at it is - suppose you took a factory EVO X and pitted it against an actual EVO X WRC car (if such a car exists - we'll assume it does, or could at least). Assume we then further set them up to have a similar powertrain - engine and gearing, final drive, etc. We'll even throw some ballast in the WRC car (spread it about the whole car, to get a good distribution for the added weight) to make the mass of the two similar. Maybe there are other factors that need to be equalized as well - I don't know. But assume we do that in whatever ways we need to while leaving the chassis tuning and steering exactly the way it is.

Now, after all that which one is faster around the track, and why? I honestly don't know. But I have a hunch the race car will still be faster.
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      09-27-2007, 10:25 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swamp2 View Post
On the M-DCT what we know is that these dual clutch systems shift REALLY smooth. Others have posted that they "know" already they will miss the neck snapping shifts in SMG at mode S6 at WOT.
Agreed. It was interesting to hear the same comment in the Ferrari video as well (thanks for posting that by the way). I guess some might say "neck-snapping" is "hardcore", but not in my book as long the performance is there for the non-necksnapping case.
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      09-27-2007, 10:28 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkoesel View Post
Has this effect also been present in race cars?
I haven't driven a race car, but by watching these guys do their thing on the F1 curcuit, one can probably say that things have gotten much more comfortable for the race car drivers as well--relatively speaking of course. They are driving faster and having an easier time doing it. I heard one of the formula legends say the same thing in an interview once, but can't remember who that was.
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      09-27-2007, 12:23 PM   #15
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^Agreed Race Cars themselves have become "softer" than what they once were.

Harder, Harsher, and Louder doesnt mean faster
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      09-27-2007, 01:25 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucid View Post
Agreed. It was interesting to hear the same comment in the Ferrari video as well (thanks for posting that by the way). I guess some might say "neck-snapping" is "hardcore", but not in my book as long the performance is there for the non-necksnapping case.
Non necksnapping is faster because it unsettles the car less. You really don't want a neck snapping upshift while you are in the middle of a turn.
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      09-27-2007, 01:27 PM   #17
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Exactly my thoughts

Quote:
Originally Posted by mkoesel View Post
[A] good question. I don't know the answer, but tet me post this follow up: Has this effect also been present in race cars? Race cars are purpose built to get around a track the fastest - so, if these soft rides are really outperforming their former rawer, more frantic counterparts, you'd think the race teams would be using this same technology. No?
Wow, you took the thoughts right out of my head on this one. I first thought about this point when considering the evolution of steering in the M3. Again easier, less force does not always = bad. If they same evolution is happening in race cars then this is simply more reason/evidence to be comfortable with this evolution.

We need some input from guys driving REAL, purpose built race cars, not those based on the chassis/components of production vehicles.
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      09-27-2007, 09:25 PM   #18
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It is somewhat ironic, after spending years defending my decision to purchase a SMG E46, that most of now seem to accept this evolution more readily. I believe, even after accepting some of the negative elements such as weight, the E92 will be accepted as an evolution in the line albeit, not a ground-breaking model. It does have a lot of cool engineering though.
Great discussion,
Cheers,
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      09-28-2007, 09:53 AM   #19
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^ I am not sure what you are saying?

Everybody fears change...
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      09-28-2007, 11:15 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucid View Post
I just read the EVO X review on R&T and noticed parallels between the E46 vs. E92 M3 debate and the EVO IX vs. EVO X observations of the author. The hardcore and edgy vs. softcore and less involved issue. It seems that the discussion is somewhat common--even universal?--and probably confirms a trend we have been commenting on the evolution of the M3. Even before the E92 M3 gets here, let me pose this: do you guys think the next generation M3 will follow that trend, and that we'll be seeing a lot of "BMW has gone soft with the new M3" comments in 6 years?...
Good topic, and obviously one that is of interest to you (and I).

Oversimplified, the answer is yes. This is a trend that stretches back to the first update (the E36 M3) that will continue with the new one, as well. Each generational update made for a demonstrably better car, with the only downside being that the new car was less fun to drive than the car it replaced. This is mostly due to size and weight gains, but can secondarily be traced to advances in suspension dynamics which tend to "tame" the car somewhat compared to its forebear.

Some of us tend to decry this tendency toward a more civilized experience, car-wise, but it's very hard to argue against a vehicle that is definitely better than the car it replaces in all of the usual ways one measures.

This tendency is also true of all the other cars on the planet. Witness the fairly recent U.S. introduction of the Fit, Yaris, etc., made possible because the Civic, Corolla, et al have grown up and gotten more features with each new iteration, so now there's a viable market underneath them.

All that said, I believe that manufacturers work very hard to preserve those qualities they feel are important to their product. Much of this is cultural (i.e. - "That's the way we do it at BMW."), and culture is a very hard thing to change, whether it's a company or a country.

I'll use Porsche as an example. They're very little different from any other maker in regards to the tendency mentioned, but have clearly worked *very* hard to preserve "porscheness" in their vehicles,

As an example, a couple of weeks ago I drove a 997S that one of our sons recently purchased, so got to compare it to a 996 Cabrio that our other son has had for several years. The 997 has more of everything compared to the 996 (more power, more stick, more equipment, it's a bit bigger, etc.), but it retains the same basic handling characteristics, in that it gets that Porsche rear-end wiggle when you get up past eight tenths or so, so you need to know what you're doing when and if you drive past that point. The 996 has the same tendency, but more so, and more suddenly. The 993 I drove way back when had that same tendency, although much more extreme; enough so that I stopped the car after negotiating a splendid winding road, got out, and checked the tires looking for a possible flat.

Porsche could engineer those traits out of the 911, but they'd be crazy to do so. Half the guys who buy them do so partially because the car makes you feel like a hero once you learn to tame the beast, and my guess is that if Porsche tames the car, then some of that marvelous steering feel will be lost, amongst other things. It would likely be even faster around the 'Ring than is currently so, but with less enjoyment.

Our 997S guy is a fighter pilot, and he has said in regard to those tools in general, "You can have stability or maneuverability. Pick one."

Seems as if that's true for hot cars, as well.

A final Porsche example of how important it is for manufacturers to preserve the qualities they feel are important: Our daughter in law's dad used to head up the ceramics division of Corning Glass before his recent retirement, and he talks about not being able to corral Porsche as a customer. That division of Corning's bread and butter product is the ceramic core for catalytic converters, and they have more or less dominated the worldwide market.

Couldn't get Porsche, though, and when he went to a full-court press to nail the account, Porsche showed him why he could *never* get their business.

At the plant in Germany, they fired up a new 911 with his cats installed. Nasty, snarly, edgy, etc. - all the things you expect in a Porsche sound. Then they fired up another 911 with their standard metal-core cats.

Nastier, more snarly, more edgy. NOT louder.

Turns out that the ceramic cores were absorbing some of the harmonics that the metal cores were either letting through or were actually generating. This was something only apparent in a side by side comparison, but it was clear to the Porsche engineering types that he was never going to get the business.

Trust me that BMW will be the same way about protecting what's important to them in the new M3. It will be a better car in nearly every way. Faster, better handling (in the sense that it will negotiate a twisty road more quickly than the E46 model), and more civilized in the process. Some of us (me included) will lament the loss of edginess, but most of us will revel in the improvements the new car will bring.

Bruce
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      09-28-2007, 01:32 PM   #21
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^ I am not sure what you are saying?

Everybody fears change...
No, some of us embrace it...
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      10-02-2007, 11:04 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bruce.augenstein@comcast. View Post
Half the guys who buy them do so partially because the car makes you feel like a hero once you learn to tame the beast,
Thanks for the post Bruce; great examples. This line above about "heroes" definitely makes a lot of sense from a user and marketing perspective. I have read several articles/posts complaining about the new V-8 sounding tamed as compared to the old I-6, which rattled and snarled and so on when delivering max performance. I guess if the engine sounds like it's going to rip itself apart when you step on it, one might naturally feel like one is skillfully controlling something that wants to break loose. (This example is somehow different--and not as striking--than the one you gave above handling though as in that case control is not just perception but is for real).

Quote:
Originally Posted by bruce.augenstein@comcast. View Post
Our 997S guy is a fighter pilot, and he has said in regard to those tools in general, "You can have stability or maneuverability. Pick one."

Seems as if that's true for hot cars, as well.
I can see how there would be a trade-off between stability and maneuverability in a plane design. It's tricky for cars though as cars, at a fundamental level, are inherently stable on 4 wheels and the driving situation is not as much a 3D problem as the flying situation. Depending on how one defines the stability of a car, one can argue that a more stable platform--in terms of its ability to maintain contact with the surface for traction--might also be the more maneuverable one.
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