• The July 2024 Lotus Emira of the Month contest is underway! Please take a moment to check out thread here: 🏆 July 2024 - Emira of the Month starts now! (You can dismiss this message by clicking the X in the top right hand corner of this notice.)

Lotus cars=no adaptive dampers.

Maverick1

Emira Fanatic
Joined
Jan 6, 2022
Messages
309
Reaction score
422
Location
Canada
It seems for a long time now most if not all sports car manufacturers offer their cars with adaptive dampers on the suspensions.
I've noticed with all Lotus models from the Elise through the Exige, the Evora and lastly the Emira, Lotus does not offer adaptive dampers on any of their sports cars.....why?
Is it because they feel that after they have developed/tested their cars they don't feel adaptive dampers are necessary?
I think it would be kind of nice to have them on the Emira, one setting calibrated for comfort/touring and a second setting calibrated for the racetrack.
That way customers would not have to choose one or the other.
You would think if Honda can do it for the CivictType-r Lotus would be able to as well for the Emira.
What are you gents think?
 
I think "kind of nice" is a bit of an understatement. Every car the Emira is being compared with has adaptive dampers; with the Emira you have to choose which one you want... WITHOUT any official information from Lotus! It is absolutely ridiculous that to get any information on the (potentially non-reversible) suspension choices you're making on your car, you have to refer to an un-official post by TomE on this forum. And, no disrespect to TomE (who's an absolute hero!) - a few things that Lotus have told him have so far turned out to be false.
 
It seems for a long time now most if not all sports car manufacturers offer their cars with adaptive dampers on the suspensions.
I've noticed with all Lotus models from the Elise through the Exige, the Evora and lastly the Emira, Lotus does not offer adaptive dampers on any of their sports cars.....why?
Is it because they feel that after they have developed/tested their cars they don't feel adaptive dampers are necessary?
I think it would be kind of nice to have them on the Emira, one setting calibrated for comfort/touring and a second setting calibrated for the racetrack.
That way customers would not have to choose one or the other.
You would think if Honda can do it for the CivictType-r Lotus would be able to as well for the Emira.
What are you gents think?
I pointed this out months ago and have not had much support from this forum about it...good luck...
 
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #4
I pointed this out months ago and have not had much support from this forum about it...good luck...
In doing my research on the Emira, I watched a lot of the Evora videos and reviews and most reviewers said that the Evora suspension was a marvel, being sporty with great handling, without being too firm and beating the driver up.
I remember the term "Lotus magic."
Let's just hope Lotus brings that same magic to the Emira.
 
I've only driven 911s(both 991 and 992) that have adaptive dampers. To be honest they seems a bit pointless to me because they were like:
modeA: not enough damping and the car has excessive movement even never stops on some road surfaces.
modeB: Just right amount of damping but hard and intoleranting.
I maybe wrong and I certainly may not have sampled enough cars with adaptive damper. My understanding is there is a “optimal” match between spring rates and damping amount. My KW V3 is said to have x amount of damping power selection but I never felt right with settings outside my preferred setting.
 
I can answer this pretty bluntly. Adaptive dampers are a gimmick unless they are tied into a fully active suspension dynamics control system, which most cars with "adaptive dampers" are not.

For example, my BMW has M Adaptive suspension. The Comfort mode basically drives like a Camry. Weirdly under-damped, poor body control, and no road feel. The Sport mode is firmer, and handles more like it should, but is wooden and crashy over bumps due to too much compression damping and not enough rebound damping. They did this intentionally as a feedback difference to the driver, it makes it feel dramatically different when you press the button so there is "test drive gratification" but it sacrifices actual handling dynamics in order to give that sudden experiential difference that the button-mashers are looking for.

It's dumb. You can make a car handle spectacularly well with high quality conventional dampers without making it excessively uncomfortable, except in the most extreme track-focused engineering scenarios. You just need to choose the spring rates and valving appropriately, particularly around high speed and low speed compression damping.

Adaptive dampers add a huge amount of cost and usually don't pay off in handling improvement by themselves, because only one (or possibly none) of the modes will actually be correct for the spring. I think Lotus is absolutely right to avoid the adaptive trap for that reason. Save the money, engineer the suspension dynamics around the target wheel rate they want to achieve for handling, and then tune the sharp edges off the damping to make it livable, and maybe even outright comfortable. It's a solid formula with many decades of iterative refinement, so why mess it up with electronics and complexity.

All that being said, there is a place for adaptive suspension, and when done right it doesn't involve magic button changes between "Squishy" and "Rough AF". With proper valve-actuated or magnetorheological dampers, and tuned active dynamics control that constantly adjusts the dampers based on sensor-detected weight transfer, yaw, accel, decel, steering and throttle inputs, etc... that can truly be magic and can measurably increase the handling limits of a vehicle. But that doesn't come cheap, and except in the most extreme examples it doesn't come at all in factory form even if the dampers themselves support that type of tech. It's possible to upgrade to the real deal in the aftermarket though, like this: https://www.dscsport.com/

Hope this helps.
 
Last edited:
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #7
I can answer this pretty bluntly. Adaptive dampers are a gimmick unless they are tied into a fully active suspension dynamics control system, which most cars with "adaptive dampers" are not.

For example, my BMW has M Adaptive suspension. The Comfort mode basically drives like a Camry. Weirdly under-damped, poor body control, and no road feel. The Sport mode is firmer, and handles more like it should, but is wooden and crashy over bumps due to too much compression damping and not enough rebound damping. They did this intentionally as a feedback difference to the driver, it makes it feel dramatically different when you press the button so there is "test drive gratification" but it sacrifices actual handling dynamics in order to give that sudden experiential difference that the button-mashers are looking for.

It's dumb. You can make a car handle spectacularly well with conventional dampers without making it excessively uncomfortable, except in the most extreme track-focused engineering scenarios. You just need to choose the spring rates and valving appropriately, particularly around high speed and low speed rebound damping.

Adaptive dampers add a huge amount of cost and usually don't pay off in handling improvement by themselves, because only one (or possibly none) of the modes will actually be correct for the spring. I think Lotus is absolutely right to avoid the adaptive trap for that reason. Save the money, engineer the suspension dynamics around the target wheel rate they want to achieve for handling, and then tune the sharp edges off the damping to make it livable, and maybe even outright comfortable. It's a solid formula with many decades of iterative refinement, so why mess it up with electronics and complexity.

All that being said, there is a place for adaptive suspension, and when done right it doesn't involve magic button changes between "Squishy" and "Rough AF". With proper valve-actuated or magnetorheological dampers, and tuned active dynamics control that constantly adjusts the dampers based on sensor-detected weight transfer, yaw, accel, decel, steering and throttle inputs, etc... that can truly be magic and can measurably increase the handling limits of a vehicle. But that doesn't come cheap, and except in the most extreme examples it doesn't come at all in factory form even if the dampers themselves support that type of tech. It's possible to upgrade to the real deal in the aftermarket though, like this: https://www.dscsport.com/

Hope this helps.
I always thought that the Corvette offered Magnetic Ride as an option.
Supposed to be an amazing system.
I've read that Nitron and Ohlins adjustable shocks are amazing.
Maybe I'm Wrong.
 
I always thought that the Corvette offered Magnetic Ride as an option.
Supposed to be an amazing system.
I've read that Nitron and Ohlins adjustable shocks are amazing.
Maybe I'm Wrong.
They do offer MagneRide on the Corvette. Great dampers. But the system on the standard C7 and C8 cars optioned with MagneRide isn't fully active in the way that's possible with a dedicated controller like what I linked above.

Adaptive dampers have real potential. OEMs thus far are not exploiting that potential on mass production vehicles because doing so requires expensive additional electronics and tuning, and most of their customers are only looking for the "gee whiz" gimmick when they mash the button, rather than truly meaningful handling improvements at the outer limits of the traction envelope. This is an economics problem, not an engineering one.
 
Active dampers with active suspension also weigh more. I'd rather have one well optimised suspension setup than two compromised settings with extra lard.

I suspect that we will find that the actual difference between touring and sports won't be that large anyway. Even the configurator mentions "slightly stiffer suspension setup for enhanced dynamic capability and feel". So don't expect "camry mode" (touring) vs "bmw m sport set to 10" harshness (sport).
 
I remember either watching a video or reading an interview with Gavan where he was talking about how the new materials have allowed them to use the bump stops as active parts of the suspension dynamics. He was describing how they've made them long with shape changes that enable them to change how much compression they allow in a variable manner. These work in conjunction with the dampers to allow multiple rates of damping without the weight or complexity of adaptive dampers. I found this fascinating. It seems there's a considerable amount of engineering ingenuity being incorporated into this car.
 
Porsche's 718 Active dampers are very effective at giving safety and control in comfort mode and safety and control in sport mode. the "PASM" system on their Boxster-Caymans is amazingly effective. It is a fairly low cost option to design in. However, the 718's have a "macpherson strut" system, and the Emira is "double wishbone" correct?

That will be a big difference in suspension. maybe the Emira does not need it?

So far, all the things of this car point to it being cheap to maintain in the v6 + manual gearbox configuration.
 
Not directly comparable but Ferrari seem to be towing a similar (ideologically at least) line with the Asseto Fiorano package. One configuration for the road and another biased towards the track.
 
Thanks for starting this thread - most of it has been highly informative!

The Lotus suspension philosophy has long been encapsulated by their ability to create great handling cars without resorting to overly stiff suspension set-ups. This delivers what most of us Emira fans/buyers are looking for - a car we can enjoy day-to-day, go touring in, indulge in fast point-to-point driving (often on less than ideal roads in terms of surface condition) and even the odd track day.

Lotus chassis engineers know how to manipulate the geometry, bushing and spring/ damper rates to achieve this, meaning they can eliminate the extra weight and cost associated with more complex variable systems (which sound like they do not actually work very well in many cases...)

Lotus 🏆 for ride and handling.
 
There are many things like adaptive suspension you will find on *every* other sports car except Lotus. Chalk it up to another short coming that will never be fixed or improved on
 
There are many things like adaptive suspension you will find on *every* other sports car except Lotus. Chalk it up to another short coming that will never be fixed or improved on
Be interesting if the EV has it or not. If it has then it is a feature that's been left out due to cost/complexity on the Emira.
 
@Tonyshepp considering most cars that cost half the price have this option I would say it's not cost or complexity its the fact that Lotus rarely if ever improves on anything and their customers eat it up anyway. Let's be real it's 90k and is marketed as the 'everyday lotus' but still doesn't have things you find in a 15 year old BMW.
 
@Tonyshepp considering most cars that cost half the price have this option I would say it's not cost or complexity its the fact that Lotus rarely if ever improves on anything and their customers eat it up anyway. Let's be real it's 90k and is marketed as the 'everyday lotus' but still doesn't have things you find in a 15 year old BMW.
Not true, there is two cupholders, that's a big improvement.
Now, where is my fridge for the champagne in the back seats?
🥂🥂🥂
 
I remember either watching a video or reading an interview with Gavan where he was talking about how the new materials have allowed them to use the bump stops as active parts of the suspension dynamics. He was describing how they've made them long with shape changes that enable them to change how much compression they allow in a variable manner. These work in conjunction with the dampers to allow multiple rates of damping without the weight or complexity of adaptive dampers. I found this fascinating. It seems there's a considerable amount of engineering ingenuity being incorporated into this car.
Gav is right, but It's not a phenomenon unique to Lotus. For a great many years the bump stop cushions were only used as a failsafe to protect the valving in the most violent suspension compression events, like for the mother of all potholes, or hitting an actual obstruction in the road, because there were limits to how many times a chunk of cheap foam rubber could take that abuse. The durability limitations of the foam or rubber materials used in such bump limit cushions meant the spring itself needed to be a high enough rate to prevent 99% of compression events ever engaging the bump stop, particularly with an implied understanding that the bump stop cushion would eventually deteriorate with age even if it didn't split from use. That higher spring rate has its own set of compromises that then have to be engineered around.

Modern materials science has changed this. Now the bump stop cushion can be longer, made of multi-durometer and multi-compressible materials, and as Gavan said, can be regarded as a type of unloaded helper spring to progressively increase the effective spring rate (combined with the primary spring) as the limit of travel is approached. This also avoids the sudden sharp jump in spring rate that can occur when hitting a bump mid-corner during very aggressive cornering, which can upset the handling and sometimes result in a loss of grip. With more significant progressivity near the limit rather than a sudden jump in rate, those events are smoothed from both a perceptual and a handling perspective.
 
Last edited:
I remember either watching a video or reading an interview with Gavan where he was talking about how the new materials have allowed them to use the bump stops as active parts of the suspension dynamics. He was describing how they've made them long with shape changes that enable them to change how much compression they allow in a variable manner. These work in conjunction with the dampers to allow multiple rates of damping without the weight or complexity of adaptive dampers. I found this fascinating. It seems there's a considerable amount of engineering ingenuity being incorporated into this car.

I am going to try and add to this thread by following this post. What Gavan said is exactly my understanding. I included an excerpt from the article posted below. The suspension is essentially transferring road angles, acceleration/deceleration, yaw, and potholes to the chassis. The Lotus chassis is fundamentally different than all other cars. This is actually the MAIN reason I want this car is for the handling feel. I really can't explain anymore as I don't completely understanding the WHY but here it is:

"Bond, Adhesive Bond. First and foremost, that means not welding it. Why? ?The yield strength of aluminum goes down by half once its welded, ? explains Richard Rackham, vehicle architect at Lotus. So, getting the same strength in a welded aluminum chassis as in a bonded unit requires doubling the amount of material used; since aluminum is usually chosen for its light weight, that dilutes its key benefit. Another big disadvantage of welding aluminum is that stresses are localized along a point or a line, which can lead to material fatigue."

 
Gav is right, but It's not a phenomenon unique to Lotus. For a great many years the bump stop cushions were only used as a failsafe to protect the valving in the most violent suspension compression events, like for the mother of all potholes, or hitting an actual obstruction in the road, because there were limits to how many times a chunk of cheap foam rubber could take that abuse. The durability limitations of the foam or rubber materials used in such bump limit cushions meant the spring itself needed to be a high enough rate to prevent 99% of compression events ever engaging the bump stop, particularly with an implied understanding that the bump stop cushion would eventually deteriorate with age even if it didn't split from use. That higher spring rate has its own set of compromises that then have to be engineered around.

Modern materials science has changed this. Now the bump stop cushion can be longer, made of multi-durometer and multi-compressible materials, and as Gavan said, can be regarded as a type of unloaded helper spring to progressively increase the effective spring rate (combined with the primary spring) as the limit of travel is approached. This also avoids the sudden sharp jump in spring rate that can occur when hitting a bump mid-corner during very aggressive cornering, which can upset the handling and sometimes result in a loss of grip. With more significant progressivity near the limit rather than a sudden jump in rate, those events are smoothed from both a perceptual and a handling perspective.
Great insight, thanks for sharing
 

Similar threads

Back
Top