Harsh rides! - oldgit
Why is it nowadays, with increasing frequency, I read road tests or reports on cars where the ride of the car is criticised for being too firm or harsh?

When you consider how everything else on modern day cars has improved beyond imagination, to that say of twenty or thirty years ago, we have now cars where the ride leaves much to be desired when subjected to our ever deteriorating road surfaces.

I read condensed reports in the What Car Magazine where time and time again the suspension is criticised and this even is even apparent in recent cars such as the new Ford Focus and Honda Civic.
Harsh rides! - y2k+4
Probably because such cars are designed to reconcile the best handling characteristics with the best ride on the majority of European roads. Britain's are worst than most, and thus we notice the harshness of ride quality more than most. The only one's I can think of that are considered comparable are French one's and their cars are noticeably suppler than American/Japanese cars for Europe/
Harsh rides! - NowWheels
y2k+4, French roads are certainly a lot less smooth than German ones, but have you tried Italian roads?

Ouch!
Harsh rides! - y2k+4
Yeah, but only in the north, they all seemed pretty good. Must say, hadn't tried German ones.
Harsh rides! - type's'
I actually think that it also results from the fact that most auto magazines tear a car to bits if it's ride is not sporty or the car does not handle well.
And if you want sporty & good handling you get firm - with a standard suspension set up. The laws of physics will not allow anything different.
I do think car makers are getting better at suspension and you can get firm without a harsh ride.
The only way (with todays technology) to get sporty and soft is if you can afford an adaptive suspension system - pneumatic or Honda seem to have done the trick with the new legend - soft suspension and fantastic handling.
Harsh rides! - martint123
Larger diameter alloys with low profile tyres may look cool (or chav) but make the ride much more uncomfortable.
Harsh rides! - Lud
My Escort which has lowish profile tyres as standard rides a lot harsher than my daughter's Golf, which has higher profile tyres and generally softer springing. But this hard suspension coupled with its longer wheelbase make the Ford a lot quicker over traffic-infuriating Livingstone bumps.

But the Citroen C4 I drove the other week, which had huge wheels and very wide low-profile tyres, lolloped over them extremely well. Fords always were a bit coarse, although this one I must say is a very good car.
Harsh rides! - type's'
>>Larger diameter alloys with low profile tyres may look cool (or chav) but make the ride much more uncomfortable. <<

Oh know !!!!!- it never dawned on me I would be a chav with low profiles and bigger wheels - I just thought I was spotty - sorry SPORTY.
Harsh rides! - oldgit
I can't think of anything more off-putting (to me, anyway) than the presence of ridiculously large diameter alloys fitted with tyres having vestigial depth to them. From a distance, it looks as though the car is riding on its rims and it is absurd to say the very least.

I know that, sometimes, it is virtually impossible to buy a particular model without these large alloys but it would certainly make me reassess my choice of car, if I knew that it was only available with said wheels.

And yes, they are very chavvy, to my mind and I could vividly imagine my motoring friends' comments if I were to visit them, in a car so fitted. I would lose all credibility, in all probability
Harsh rides! - type's'
Would your friends think as you suggested if you visited them in a F430 ?
A bit extreme - for me anyway.
I do agree with you though - I have larger wheels fitted to my accord - I actually think they look quite tasteful but it does compromise comfort.
Harsh rides! - mike hannon
Back along I saw one of those re-manufactured Jaguar XJ6 series 3s that had enormous wheels and tyres like rubber bands. Not only did it look absolutely ridiculous, the ride must be horrendous. Why do people do it?
Also, I know it's a matter of perception, but anyone who thinks French roads are rough must be only travelling by train in the UK.
I live in one of the most rural and undeveloped parts of France and road maintenance here is an example to the rest of the world. The rest of the country seems pretty much the same. So there...
Harsh rides! - Hamsafar
I find the roads in town centres in France very bad, (worse thank UK) but the main roads and autoroutes are much better than the UK's in every way.
Harsh rides! - Westpig
It's definitely the wheels/tyres issue in my opinion. Larger wheels and low profile tyres look more appealing to most (except obviously oldgit), but there's a compromise with the ride quality. The opposite applies with handling.

My wife's X type estate looks really good with larger alloys and low profiles...but... she can keep the ride quality, which i think is far too harsh for that sort of car. Handling however is spot on..i'm convinced it would embarrass a hot hatch in that respect.

My S type has a lovely comfortable ride, but if you press it hard through bends it will eventually lean and howl etc, which the X Type won't. You'd have to be an absolute hooligan to get the X type to pass comment.

I know there are other differences, such as the suspension & settings, but HJ is always going on about the wheelsize/tyre type issues in his column and i'm convinced it's true.

Horses for courses springs to mind, do you want it to look nice or perform 'properly'. 'Properly' in my book being comfortable enough, with more than reasonable handling...not stick to the road like glue through bends at warp factor five, which I rarely need.
Harsh rides! - Bagpuss
When I drove to the UK last year I was quite surprised about how much rougher the roads were compared to the countries I drove through to get there (Germany and France). It was also noticable how much more road noise was generated, in some cases resulting in a very unpleasant drone, which I concluded was probably the result of the UK using different tarmac. If I were ever to move back to the UK I would definitely not drive a car with the 19" wheels and 35 section tyres which BMW decided were appropriate for my M3.
Harsh rides! - ukbeefy
I think alot of it is part of a trend to conform to a expected "performance/sporty" norm even among manufacturers of family or conventional saloons/MPVs.....

In the 1970s and 80s there certainly was alot more "choice" in ride handling compromise - there were many French cars and even British ones where the accent was on highly absorbent rides (think of almost all the mid and larger Peugeots/Renaults and all Citroens and Triumph 2000, Austin Maxi, 1800, Princess, Ambassador) which were popular with consumers and had a distinct offering in terms of comfort. Yes none of them were pretending to have sports car handling...but then the vast majority of their owners correctly realised that they would never be hurtling along testing the car's limits and for the 99.9% of the time would be offereing them a cosseting ride.

Since then I observe that manufacturers seem to rather than design a car to be more distanctive and offer something different instead they benchmark against what they believe is the class leader and copy its ride handling balance. In the last 15 years those benchmarks have been typically Germanic be they the Golf or BMW 3/5 series and increasingly biased to apply sporting set ups to cars that never would in earlier times to have such a bias....

So then we get almost all cars offering a similar "firm" ride as that is perceived to be sporty and follows the Germanic norm.
 

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