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      02-19-2014, 08:49 PM   #1
ItsHectic
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Post It is a bad time for cars, Electric power steering

It seems no1 is doing hydraulic power steering anymore. I dont think I will ever sell my 135i for this reason, I planned on keeping it for 10 years but I think I will just keep it as long as I can now 300,000KMs or whatever.

I have taken up a new hobby of test driving vehicles with no intention of buying one, The Toyota 86 has EPS, Audi, BMW, Merc all only come with EPS.


My dad has a Lexus CT200h and I drive it occasionally(Hybrid system are nice to drive as they offer good low end acceleration) and it is a frequent reminder of the inferior steering technology.

I know it has been improved recently and I dont care what people say, at least as of now an electric system can not be as good as a hydraulic system if feedback(not talking about feel but feedback of the road) is something you appreciate.


I really want to start a petition to BMW to revert back to Hydraulic or atleast have it available as an option, I can understand Mercedes offering it as they are more luxury orientated but for a drivers car "The Ultimate Driving Machine" EPS is a joke.
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      02-20-2014, 12:50 AM   #2
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Your frustration is understandable but the rest of your post is wasted breath.

There's no reason why electrically assisted power steering can't and won't continue to be improved. The core benefit pertains to its efficiency relative to a hydraulic pump, which is priority number one for most--if not all--OEMs. There are a few other benefits as well; for non-enthusiasts, accuracy and highly adjustable steering weight (in the form of presets and active adjustment) are two that come to mind. The main con is the lack of consistent feedback transmitting road surface noise as well as the lack of transparency when you approach and/or go beyond your traction limits.

We're clearly seeing progress in the very short timespan since EPS has become widespread in the industry. Porsche has reportedly hit it out of the park with their 991 GT3, getting close to the levels of "feel" that the 997 GT3 achieved. That standard should be more than satisfactory for car enthusiasts.

I think steering feel isn't even understood by most drivers, and Chris Harris has echoed this sentiment years ago when hydraulic assist was still the staple.

Give it time. The new WRX STi has hydraulic assist if you want to try that one out. EPS isn't going anywhere.
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      02-20-2014, 01:12 AM   #3
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all i know is that the new BMW 3 series that i have driven ( my mothers 335i included) had very loose steering feel. my old E90 328i was much much better.
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      02-20-2014, 06:55 AM   #4
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There's no reason why electrically assisted power steering can't and won't continue to be improved.
But will it ever be as good as what hydraulic power steering could be. Lets say in 10 years time Lotus stays with HPS and improves it greatly while other car brands develop EPS. Which will be better?
I am not sure its possible for EPS to be as good as HPS.
Its only a 3% fuel efficiency increase, great for econoboxes and maybe luxury cars, but I dont see its place in sports or performance cars.
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      02-20-2014, 08:59 AM   #5
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In ten years time it'll be better. You'll be able to time it to your preferences in steering, rather than one size fits all approach.
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      02-20-2014, 09:25 AM   #6
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Yea I saw this on the new Infiniti and I would like it on a luxury car. The only EPS system I liked was the one on my dads B200(keep in mind I have not driven the 86, or BMW EPS yet), that car handled great for what it was I must say and had nice feedback(not road feel) I remember pushing it to its limits with 5 people in the car. But it was not a sports car so I did not expect it to have road feel.
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      02-20-2014, 11:48 AM   #7
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Quote:
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But will it ever be as good as what hydraulic power steering could be. Lets say in 10 years time Lotus stays with HPS and improves it greatly while other car brands develop EPS. Which will be better?
I am not sure its possible for EPS to be as good as HPS.
Its only a 3% fuel efficiency increase, great for econoboxes and maybe luxury cars, but I dont see its place in sports or performance cars.
That "3%" is huge. Anything helps, especially when you implement it across an entire model range that needs to achieve increasingly stringent fuel efficiency standards. I don't think OEMs want to turn away buyers by using an inferior product. They'll continue to refine new technology. Remember when active/selective dampers came out? Were they good? They weren't. The same idea of progression applies to traction and stability control systems; they were invasive and relatively digital in their inception, and now look at what we have. We're seeing eLSDs coupled with ridiculously transparent traction nets that are more impressive than anything.

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Yea I saw this on the new Infiniti and I would like it on a luxury car. The only EPS system I liked was the one on my dads B200(keep in mind I have not driven the 86, or BMW EPS yet), that car handled great for what it was I must say and had nice feedback(not road feel) I remember pushing it to its limits with 5 people in the car. But it was not a sports car so I did not expect it to have road feel.
If you're referring to the new Infiniti Q50, it has fully electric, steer-by-wire tech (the first car to have this). There literally isn't any linkage between the wheels and the tiller, although they have an emergency physical system that works as a fail safe.
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      02-20-2014, 12:08 PM   #8
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The S2000 and NSX both had EPS years ago. I think the major problem is that ZF, who makes BMW's and Porsche's EPS is just getting started at this and so far has been doing a crap job of it.

Comparing a fwd CT200h's steering, even if it were HPS wouldn't really be a fair comparison anyway to a rwd car. People bitched about HPS when it starting replacing manual racks, and that went on for decades. EPS will likely catch up to where HPS was much faster. It might just be the window the Japanese and Americans need to catch and surpass ze Germans in steering feel.

I've driven the BRZ and it's good, but ultimately limited more by the physical steering setup, not EPS.
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      02-20-2014, 12:12 PM   #9
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Plus you have to factor in weight distribution, tire compound and size, suspension geometry, and drive type. Those all play a huge role on top of the type of assist.

If you're driving a heavy car with the majority of its weight over the nose that rides softly, and the front wheels also have to handle torque application, you're gonna have a bad time. Reduce the curb weight, shift the weight rearward to take the burden off the nose, incorporate aggressive suspension geometry, and send the power to the rear so it doesn't impact the front, and you're probably going to get pretty good results and won't need as much power assistance.

Then again, the Alfa 4C is a great example of being an outlier here. It's MR, very lightweight, and doesn't have any kind of steering assist, yet it's being panned by the majority of publications for inconsistent and inaccurate steering.
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      02-20-2014, 12:38 PM   #10
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Exactly, the 4C should have great steering. Any setup can be great or terrible. My CRX Si had something silly like 68% of the weight (all of 2,222 pounds) on the front wheels, but it's manual steering felt better than the Elise and Exige, which should have felt great. My M Coupe had great manual steering, as did the E36 M3, but the E46 M3 was massively over assisted. The Boxster and Cayman with EPS feel good, unless you drive them back to back with the older version.

I do suspect that BMW's move to low rolling resistance tires at the same time as the release of the F30 is partly to blame, M Sport cars tend to get better review, partly helped by the lower and stiffer suspension, but also because they have better tires, providing better feedback.
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      02-20-2014, 01:46 PM   #11
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Quote:
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The S2000 and NSX both had EPS years ago. I think the major problem is that ZF, who makes BMW's and Porsche's EPS is just getting started at this and so far has been doing a crap job of it.
Yet ZF also makes the steering for the ATS and reviewers like it.
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      02-20-2014, 02:13 PM   #12
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Exactly, the 4C should have great steering. Any setup can be great or terrible. My CRX Si had something silly like 68% of the weight (all of 2,222 pounds) on the front wheels, but it's manual steering felt better than the Elise and Exige, which should have felt great. My M Coupe had great manual steering, as did the E36 M3, but the E46 M3 was massively over assisted. The Boxster and Cayman with EPS feel good, unless you drive them back to back with the older version.

I do suspect that BMW's move to low rolling resistance tires at the same time as the release of the F30 is partly to blame, M Sport cars tend to get better review, partly helped by the lower and stiffer suspension, but also because they have better tires, providing better feedback.
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Yet ZF also makes the steering for the ATS and reviewers like it.
I'm making an assumption here. ZF is a manufacturer/supplier for auto components, so I would assume that their EPS systems are supplied to any OEM that chooses to purchase them, and like any other ZF unit (e.g. their widespread transmissions), the car maker has to supply its own ECU and programming. I could be completely wrong.

This also explains why the 8HP auto varies in characteristic so much between different makes.
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      02-20-2014, 02:47 PM   #13
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Not all electric steerings are bad. It is just that BMW is still struggling to get the proper tuning. Some other brands have already managed to roll out electric steering that feel just as good as their previous iteration of hydraulic assisted ones.
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      02-20-2014, 08:38 PM   #14
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EPS doesn't guarantee lack of feel, jus like hydraulic steering doesn't guarantee direct road feedback. I've driven some AWFUL hydraulically assisted cars. As said before, EPS was nailed in the S2000 and NSX. It really depends car to car and how finely tuned the system is.
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      02-20-2014, 10:15 PM   #15
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Well I am glad to know it does have the same potential as HPS, but it is still a bad time right now, I think they are switching over too aggresively by including performance models with inferior EPS.
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      02-21-2014, 10:29 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ItsHectic View Post
Well I am glad to know it does have the same potential as HPS, but it is still a bad time right now, I think they are switching over too aggresively by including performance models with inferior EPS.
In all honesty, the 135i was one of the worst BMW HPS setups I can recall, both with RFT's and without, it offered poor road feel and feedback. I'd take a current Cayman or BRZ EPS setup over what the E82 had.

Oddly, our porker of an awd X1, also based on the E9x chassis, has much better steering feel on RFT's than our 1er did when we traded it in with non RFT's.
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      02-21-2014, 11:01 AM   #17
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The switch impacts fuel economy, which is one of the major reasons cited for switching.

I have not driven the Porsche, but I have heard their EPS systems are very well implemented. This is BMW's first implementation of it in the 3/4er, so I want to think there is a lot room for improvement (hopefully via software updates).
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      02-21-2014, 11:47 AM   #18
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In all honesty, the 135i was one of the worst BMW HPS setups I can recall, both with RFT's and without, it offered poor road feel and feedback. I'd take a current Cayman or BRZ EPS setup over what the E82 had.
Did your 135i have variable steering?

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The switch impacts fuel economy, which is one of the major reasons cited for switching.
But it does not have to be on all models, car companies need to meet an emission standard as an average across their range, so for instance, reducing the displacement of their small engines by .1litre and equiping their performance models with HPS will achieve a similar result as what they are doing now.
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      02-21-2014, 11:51 AM   #19
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Did your 135i have variable steering?
Nope, but the X does. Perhaps that would have helped, but I can't really see how an added level of complexity would help with feedback and feel. I think it's primarily just the front suspension, something they fixed with the 1M by just swapping out for the entire M3 suspension.
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      02-21-2014, 11:53 AM   #20
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But it does not have to be on all models, car companies need to meet an emission standard as an average across their range, so for instance, reducing the displacement of their small engines by .1litre and equiping their performance models with HPS will achieve a similar result as what they are doing now.
But that would require them to develop two separate setups. The non M cars wouldn't justify this, and by all signs, even M cars aren't going to escape this. From many accounts, the M3/M4 is much better than any F3x, so don't count out EPS even in its current forms.
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      02-21-2014, 12:03 PM   #21
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Nope, but the X does. Perhaps that would have helped, but I can't really see how an added level of complexity would help with feedback and feel. I think it's primarily just the front suspension, something they fixed with the 1M by just swapping out for the entire M3 suspension.
It is meant to be the control arms, thats why people with 135is get M3 control arms.

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But that would require them to develop two separate setups. The non M cars wouldn't justify this, and by all signs, even M cars aren't going to escape this. From many accounts, the M3/M4 is much better than any F3x, so don't count out EPS even in its current forms.

But we are talking BMW not Hyundai, they did it already for the 1 series, all 1 series have electric power steering except the 135i has EHPS or HPS(not sure which one).
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      02-21-2014, 02:50 PM   #22
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But that would require them to develop two separate setups. The non M cars wouldn't justify this, and by all signs, even M cars aren't going to escape this. From many accounts, the M3/M4 is much better than any F3x, so don't count out EPS even in its current forms.
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But we are talking BMW not Hyundai, they did it already for the 1 series, all 1 series have electric power steering except the 135i has EHPS or HPS(not sure which one).
The F10 5-series has electric steering. But they decided to put hydraulic steering in the F10 M5.

Maybe they figured something out with the new EPS on the M3/M4. BMW thinks it is up to the task for the highest volume M-car.
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