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Technical Topics Suspension / Chassis / Brakes Suspension debate - adaptive or not?

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      05-12-2019, 11:41 AM   #1
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Suspension debate - adaptive or not?

BMW’s new “lift-related” dampers. This new suspension setup isn’t adaptive and it has no alternative modes. It’s just a passive suspension setup that’s be set up properly. And you know what? It works brilliantly. During my time with it, I was so extremely pleased with how it rode, handled bumps and handled corners. In every situation, it felt perfect. Sure, it was a little on the firm side but never so much so that it was uncomfortable. Instead, it was supple enough, planted and confidence inspiring.

Of course, to do so, you have to make a bit of a sacrifice in one area. In the case of the 3 Series, its new suspension trades a bit of comfort for better handling and dynamics. And it’s well worth it because it’s still comfortable enough for everyday driving and actually has a suppleness that allows you to feel bumps but rounds them out. And because it’s consistent, with no changing modes, you can better learn how it responds and drive accordingly.
I wish BMW would do this for more of its cars; just offer a single, non-adaptive suspension setup that works the right way right out of the box. Just like M2
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      05-12-2019, 01:17 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ilyam5 View Post
Of course, to do so, you have to make a bit of a sacrifice in one area. In the case of the 3 Series, its new suspension trades a bit of comfort for better handling and dynamics.

I wish BMW would do this for more of its cars; just offer a single, non-adaptive suspension setup that works the right way right out of the box. Just like M2
What suspension did you try? M-sport or standard suspension?

We are getting comment in some of the UK press that the M-sport passive suspension is not best suited to comfort on UK roads. Even suggesting if you value comfort, delete M-sport suspension and run the standard setup.

Have you tried the G20 adaptive, to make any comparisons? IMO, a decent adaptive setup has its place in any model line-up, gives the widest working envelope and scope for less compromise.
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      05-12-2019, 01:40 PM   #3
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I had adaptive on my past two F30 3 series leases, but didn't order it on my G20.

My reasoning was because adaptive has been historically packaged with VSS or other items I felt I needed, and because the non-adaptive suspension (M sport or not) on the 3 series was trash in my opinion. You also couldn't get M sport suspension on an xDrive unless you opted for adaptive, so I think that forced a lot of people to adaptive.

With the base and M sport suspension being improved on the G20 vs. F30, and xDrive models being able to have M sport without requiring adaptive, I personally feel the value proposition of adaptive is a lot less on the G20. I always use the sport mode in adaptive, and didn't notice enough of a difference between adaptive M sport vs. M sport on the G20, so the $700 wasn't worth it to me.

I suppose if you can discern the difference between non-adaptive M sport and adaptive M sport, or truly want to be able to switch suspension between sport and comfort modes, adaptive may be right for you.
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      05-12-2019, 01:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pauleebe View Post
I had adaptive on my past two F30 3 series leases, but didn't order it on my G20.

My reasoning was because adaptive has been historically packaged with VSS or other items I felt I needed, and because the non-adaptive suspension (M sport or not) on the 3 series was trash in my opinion. You also couldn't get M sport suspension on an xDrive unless you opted for adaptive, so I think that forced a lot of people to adaptive.

With the base and M sport suspension being improved on the G20 vs. F30, and xDrive models being able to have M sport without requiring adaptive, I personally feel the value proposition of adaptive is a lot less on the G20. I always use the sport mode in adaptive, and didn't notice enough of a difference between adaptive M sport vs. M sport on the G20, so the $700 wasn't worth it to me.

I suppose if you can discern the difference between non-adaptive M sport and adaptive M sport, or truly want to be able to switch suspension between sport and comfort modes, adaptive may be right for you.
I got M sport adaptive on F30 but always drive in Sport. Honestly if non-adaptive rides like F30 adaptive in Sport or better then I’d just skip it on g20
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      05-12-2019, 01:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pauleebe View Post
I had adaptive on my past two F30 3 series leases, but didn't order it on my G20.

My reasoning was because adaptive has been historically packaged with VSS or other items I felt I needed, and because the non-adaptive suspension (M sport or not) on the 3 series was trash in my opinion. You also couldn't get M sport suspension on an xDrive unless you opted for adaptive, so I think that forced a lot of people to adaptive.

With the base and M sport suspension being improved on the G20 vs. F30, and xDrive models being able to have M sport without requiring adaptive, I personally feel the value proposition of adaptive is a lot less on the G20. I always use the sport mode in adaptive, and didn't notice enough of a difference between adaptive M sport vs. M sport on the G20, so the $700 wasn't worth it to me.

I suppose if you can discern the difference between non-adaptive M sport and adaptive M sport, or truly want to be able to switch suspension between sport and comfort modes, adaptive may be right for you.
I also skipped the adaptive M suspension. All my drive settings are always sport+ in my M4 and I never once used comfort. So for me personally it was an easy choice not to specc it on my new car. But in hindsight I wonder if the adaptive M, is anymore sporty than the passive M suspension. I know it's more comfortable (in the correct settings) but is it more stiff compared to the passive.
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      05-12-2019, 04:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BimmerFix View Post
I also skipped the adaptive M suspension. All my drive settings are always sport+ in my M4 and I never once used comfort. So for me personally it was an easy choice not to specc it on my new car. But in hindsight I wonder if the adaptive M, is anymore sporty than the passive M suspension. I know it's more comfortable (in the correct settings) but is it more stiff compared to the passive.
Not sure. I consider myself an enthusiast to the point where I can differentiate between suspension setups, but if there was a real difference between adaptive M sport and M sport in the G20, I couldn't notice it enough to justify the cost.
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      05-12-2019, 04:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HighlandPete View Post
What suspension did you try? M-sport or standard suspension?

We are getting comment in some of the UK press that the M-sport passive suspension is not best suited to comfort on UK roads. Even suggesting if you value comfort, delete M-sport suspension and run the standard setup.

Have you tried the G20 adaptive, to make any comparisons? IMO, a decent adaptive setup has its place in any model line-up, gives the widest working envelope and scope for less compromise.
I am talking M- sport suspension. Have it on M340 and tried Adaptive on M 340 before and decided to go with regular M suspension.
Idea was to see what Germans engineered for this car since so much went into handling development and new “lift-related” dampers.

I agree it is not the softest. slow driving around beat up Boston roads is bumpy, but not too much. On adaptive i could not find a happy medium. Felt like regular handled turns better.
The whole debate on M forums was - which suspension gives you more performance benefits. No one argues that adaptive gives more comfort,.
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      05-12-2019, 04:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ilyam5 View Post
I am talking M- sport suspension. ...

I agree it is not the softest. slow driving around beat up Boston roads is bumpy, but not too much. On adaptive i could not find a happy medium. Felt like regular handled turns better.
The whole debate on M forums was - which suspension gives you more performance benefits. No one argues that adaptive gives more comfort,.
Understand.

The whole concept of adaptive is, in words of one of BMW's guys, …"as stiff as necessary, but as comfortable as possible". Going to feel different, even if there are similar limits. Not exactly the same brief as a performance biased passive system.

Some of us like the ability to back off a notch for poor road use, adaptive gives that choice.
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      05-12-2019, 04:53 PM   #9
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Personally I really like the adaptive damper system in my F30; especially after reprogramming them with Dinan Shockware. I'd opt for them again in the G20.
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      05-12-2019, 08:15 PM   #10
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I test drove the m-sport once. I was pretty much decided on getting m sport. I asked the CA to take me to some windy roads ( there are some in the area), but he could not not find them and instead we ended up primarily on pretty bumpy roads looking for the smooth windy roads. In any event, the ride was very jarring, and based on that I went for the sport line. I even did another test drive of the sportline where I just sought bumpy roads and it handled then fine.

I did see Top Gear's (BBC's) review and they noted the ride as harsh and that was the only negative comment that had about the car. Glad that BMW was very fastidious about suspension though as hopefully they'll come back and be as meticulous with the steering.
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      05-13-2019, 03:02 AM   #11
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Just offering my driving experience of little over a wk of driving so far, I think the adaptive mode drives like comfort in lower speed and feels firmer and more 'road feel' upon higher speed, but not as 'rough' feeling over the bumpy roads as in sport mode, just as the name adaptive suggests it should do perhaps. I'm not technical at all and its just based on my personal driving style. I have the M sport suspension with adaptive setup. And I spent time driving on adaptive mode more than sport mode.

Also, can someone point out if it's normal that I can change settings of the sport mode(though only either sport or comfort in 3 different areas and not really much to customize), but no customizable settings for adaptive mode?
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      05-13-2019, 03:18 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HighlandPete View Post
Understand.

The whole concept of adaptive is, in words of one of BMW's guys, …"as stiff as necessary, but as comfortable as possible". Going to feel different, even if there are similar limits. Not exactly the same brief as a performance biased passive system.

Some of us like the ability to back off a notch for poor road use, adaptive gives that choice.
Be worth you reading the article in this weeks Autocar. Basically confirms my own view, stiff be well worth trade off in handling. Also Autocar report first in a UK magazine I have seen that says adaptive not worth the bother and makes little difference.

I think the quote from the BMW guy precedes G20.
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      05-13-2019, 03:36 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by KeithUK View Post
Be worth you reading the article in this weeks Autocar. Basically confirms my own view, stiff be well worth trade off in handling. Also Autocar report first in a UK magazine I have seen that says adaptive not worth the bother and makes little difference.

I think the quote from the BMW guy precedes G20.
Reviews have the same varied opinion as users do. From WhatCar site... for the BMW G20.

Quote:
Unlike most saloons, the BMW feels sporty and comfortable – especially in models with adaptive suspension – but you have to pay extra for its clever driver assistance systems.
All depends on our preferences, what we want from a suspension and what benchmark we work from. Adaptive does widen the working range.
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      05-13-2019, 06:15 AM   #14
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The adaptive dampers are not simply adjustable they are adaptive and are constantly adjusting to road conditions regardless of what mode they are in. Because of this adaptive quality they will never emulate standard shocks although they may feel similar.
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      05-13-2019, 11:04 AM   #15
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I live in the Baltimore/DC metro corridor and, given our supremely crappy roads, am absolutely getting the adaptive setup. There are some great driving roads that won't knock your fillings out in western Maryland/WV and for those glorious occasions, Sport or Sport+ will be welcomed. But for daily driving duties? My kidneys will take "comfort" please and all the pothole absorption capabilities possible.
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      05-13-2019, 04:40 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pc42884 View Post
Just offering my driving experience of little over a wk of driving so far, I think the adaptive mode drives like comfort in lower speed and feels firmer and more 'road feel' upon higher speed, but not as 'rough' feeling over the bumpy roads as in sport mode, just as the name adaptive suggests it should do perhaps. I'm not technical at all and its just based on my personal driving style. I have the M sport suspension with adaptive setup. And I spent time driving on adaptive mode more than sport mode.

Also, can someone point out if it's normal that I can change settings of the sport mode(though only either sport or comfort in 3 different areas and not really much to customize), but no customizable settings for adaptive mode?
The whole concept of the 'Adaptive mode' is simply what it says, it automatically 'adapts' itself to the driving situation and driving style. What you are finding is how it should work. Drive harder it will firm up the settings to Sport mode. Back off, will revert back Comfort mode. BMW's technical description state it works between modes and also uses the Satnav as a predictive function for bends, junctions, etc.

No experience of the G20 models, but have you tried different individual settings for Comfort and Sport modes, to see if this influences how Adaptive mode interprets them?
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      05-13-2019, 07:41 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by volsfan0911 View Post
I live in the Baltimore/DC metro corridor and, given our supremely crappy roads, am absolutely getting the adaptive setup. There are some great driving roads that won't knock your fillings out in western Maryland/WV and for those glorious occasions, Sport or Sport+ will be welcomed. But for daily driving duties? My kidneys will take "comfort" please and all the pothole absorption capabilities possible.
I also live in the DC area and skipped adaptive and opted for 19" wheels on my M340. I'll have to report back after I take delivery to comment on road comfort.

During my test drive, the G20 M340 M sport suspension without adaptive felt more comfortable than my F30 328 with adaptive (while in sport mode).
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      05-13-2019, 08:21 PM   #18
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I'll take my non-adaptive suspension, thanks.
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      05-13-2019, 09:24 PM   #19
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I think suspension choice will be determined by the environment the car is driven in. The sport suspension and RFT tires on my 2007 335i made the car for all practical purposes undrivable on New York City's pot hole infested roads. I was constantly bending rims and damaging tires. My 750Lix and my 2015 and 2018 M4s had adaptive suspensions as does my Jaguar Convertible and my Porsche Cayenne GTS. The adjustable suspension gives me a great balance between the horrible road of NYC and the relatively smooth roads near my home in Lime Rock CT.

The job of a suspension is to keep the tires in contact with the road surface and an overly stiff suspension will bounce the tires around and cause the contact patches (they are called contact patches for a reason) to lose contact with the surface of the road. An overly stiff suspension may be fine on a race track but even a notoriously bumpy track like Sebring is a lot smoother than many public roads.

I generally keep my suspension set in comfort mode. I see no reason for an overly stiff suspension in a daily driver.
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      05-14-2019, 07:43 AM   #20
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Do you think either Sport or Sport Plus with the adaptive suspension will be firmer than the M340i standard m-sport suspension?

The car I test drove had the standard suspension, but to be honest I would appreciate a bit more roll stiffness than that car had.
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      05-14-2019, 08:06 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bimmer813 View Post
Do you think either Sport or Sport Plus with the adaptive suspension will be firmer than the M340i standard m-sport suspension?

The car I test drove had the standard suspension, but to be honest I would appreciate a bit more roll stiffness than that car had.
I would say more dynamic comfort, not stiffer suspension.
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      05-14-2019, 04:10 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pauleebe View Post
I also live in the DC area and skipped adaptive and opted for 19" wheels on my M340. I'll have to report back after I take delivery to comment on road comfort.

During my test drive, the G20 M340 M sport suspension without adaptive felt more comfortable than my F30 328 with adaptive (while in sport mode).
Please do - would greatly appreciate real world experience on the roads I actually use!
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