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Old 18th March 2015, 07:31   #1
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Default Cars that still have a hydraulic steering

You turn the wheel and it feels tight. Your car goes over nn uneven road surface and you know it. The feel of hydraulic steering is sheer heaven for a petrolhead.

Now, you turn the wheel and it turns like a video game console device, and the car turns. The steering wheel feels butter-smooth in your hand. That's the new electric steering.

R.I.P steering feel.

While some new cars come up with great steering feel despite being electric (a.l.a F30 3 series), they can never match that feeling of a hydraulic or electro-hydraulic setup found in an old Bimmer or an old Mazda. Or an old Subaru. Everyone is going electric these days. Sure, they make up for it with great responsiveness and even an artificial "heavy" feeling, but... they just don't do it like the real thing!

Even some of the best-handling cars like Miata, Mini etc have all gone hydraulic. Even the legendary M3! Even Porsche!!

This thread is to list and discuss the cars that still bravely hold out against the invasion and continue to get hydraulic steering and great steering feel.

1. Infinity Q40 / Q50. I have huge respect for Infinity for doing this, I just hope they don't stop. They are going to get rid of the "steer by wire" system they debuted in the Q50, and bring back the G37's hydraulic setup. While that was no E90 steering, it (in my mind) trumps all electric setups. I just hope its a "we respect what enthusiasts want" thing and not a "we don't have a better steering yet" thing.

2. Subaru STI (not the regular WRX though)

3. BMW X1, only the XDrive one

4. Challenger RT & SRT8

... I can't think of any more!

Not sure about Subaru BRZ / Scion FRS or Evo (is the Evo still made?).

Please add to this list if you can think of any. It will help enthusiasts a lot when they go car shopping.

Last edited by rajushank84 : 18th March 2015 at 07:49.
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Old 18th March 2015, 08:23   #2
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Default re: Cars that still have a hydraulic steering

Quote:
Originally Posted by rajushank84 View Post
Now, you turn the wheel and it turns like a video game console device, and the car turns. The steering wheel feels butter-smooth in your hand. That's the new electric steering.R.I.P steering feel.
That's a lot fewer cars than I hoped to see with the conventional power steering. Now I've always supported HPS because of all the reasons that you've mentioned above, it feels so much more natural and the resistance is consistent unlike the unpredictable resistance that is programmed into EPAS. It's simply unbearable to me to drive a numb steering.

Now this is the problem - a motor driven steering can be easily tuned unlike a hydraulic system. So what do companies do as default to please the masses? Make the motor over-assist the steering. Most volume sellers never expected the backlash that they received from the few people who hated it. Even sport-car makers promoted the EPAS as a positive change because it uses hardly any engine power compared to HPS which leads to greater economy, and of course due to the lightness of the steering cornering is made more effortless & quicker. To me except the part of better economy, rest is bunkum.

A steering can be stiff or super-light, but how it moves with either is upto the driver skill. I personally don't think tacking hair-pin bends at the fastest speeds possible shows great'er' driving skills. EPS might make the turning easier but it cant defy laws of physics (understeer/oversteer).EPS can surely be programmed better to allow less boost & keep the assistance consistent across all speeds, this should make it much more pleasing to a range of people. The feedback should also dramatically improve because essentially the rack is still connected to the wheels. Unless..

Talking of Infiniti, the 2014 Q50 model of theirs was a disaster with their drive-by-wire steering wherein the computer decided how much to turn the wheels depending on steering input, this did come with a mechanical override in case of electrical failure but in general there was zero road contact which lead to a true video-gaming experience.
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Old 18th March 2015, 09:17   #3
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The Honda civic in India had a hydraulic power steering unit. From your list it looks like that didn't make it to the US spec model.
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Old 18th March 2015, 10:01   #4
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Default re: Cars that still have a hydraulic steering

Civic, really? That's surprising. Which year? Are we talking really old?
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Old 18th March 2015, 10:17   #5
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Default re: Cars that still have a hydraulic steering

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Originally Posted by rajushank84 View Post
Civic, really? That's surprising. Which year? Are we talking really old?
Civic is no longer sold in India but for the duration it was sold up until 2013(?) it had hydraulic.
Linea and Punto also have hydraulic steering.
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Old 18th March 2015, 10:31   #6
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Default re: Cars that still have a hydraulic steering

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Originally Posted by rajushank84 View Post
Civic, really? That's surprising. Which year? Are we talking really old?
Yes, the Civic in India always came with a Hydraulic Power Steering. Sheer bliss to drive and the amazing feedback. The car was indeed discontinued in late 2012, but from the beginning and until the end, it did come with an HPS unit in place.

The only drawback I can see in an HPS system is that they are not maintenance free. You need to check the fluid level often and if the hydraulic pump leaks, it can drill a big hole in your pocket. And that, obviously is the biggest advantage of EPS systems - they are maintenance free as they are driven by electronics rather than hydraulic fluid pressure. Also, EPS systems cost less to the manufacturer and costs next to none to the vehicle owners from maintenance pint of view, hence no wonder that they are preferred choice in mainstream cars over HPS.

Regards,
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Old 18th March 2015, 11:00   #7
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Default re: Cars that still have a hydraulic steering

Hydraulic system is also meant to power assist.
Electric system is also meant to power assist.
I never understood why EPS can never match up with the HPS in terms of steering feel ... anyone has ideas?

Unless we are talking about fly-by-wire types that I wouldn't touch even by a barge pole! (No direct connect to the wheel!!, what happens in case of electronics failure?)

Last edited by alpha1 : 18th March 2015 at 11:01.
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Old 18th March 2015, 11:22   #8
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Default re: Cars that still have a hydraulic steering

The erstwhile Ford Ikon had a hydraulic set up and man!! what a pleasure it was to drive.
For the sheer driving pleasure and "feel" that we talk about, EPS can never beat the HPS setup.
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Old 18th March 2015, 11:37   #9
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Default re: Cars that still have a hydraulic steering

Oh yeah the old Fords in India (including the Figo). I LOVED those. Sad to see Ford too going the EPS way. And having driven a few of those (new Fiesta and Focus), they're nothing compared to the feel of an old Ikon or Fiesta. I bet the "new Figo" is going to be all softy-mushy too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alpha1 View Post
Hydraulic system is also meant to power assist.
Electric system is also meant to power assist.
I never understood why EPS can never match up with the HPS in terms of steering feel ... anyone has ideas?

Unless we are talking about fly-by-wire types that I wouldn't touch even by a barge pole! (No direct connect to the wheel!!, what happens in case of electronics failure?)
I don't know man, there are a lot of articles about it but all I can tell you is - it feels completely different. Its night and day. To me at least. Of all the electric setups I've driven, the BMW ones come closest to it (well I haven't driven a Porsche yet) but its still not up there.

I see an Infinity in my future...
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Old 18th March 2015, 11:46   #10
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Default re: Cars that still have a hydraulic steering

To my limited knowledge, it's RIP Hydraulic Steering in India at least :(

Recently drove a 2010 Laura TSi and I just fell in love with the steering feedback. Absolutely solid and precise feedback.

Ford Fiesta (MY2012+) and the Ecosport have ridiculously over assisted electronic steering in comparison to the high standards set by themselves with the previous gen Fiesta, Ikon, Figo etc.

There's no going back to the hydraulic steering era I guess, but is it possible to tune the steering mechatronics to suit driving style (Sport Vs Comfort)? I'm talking about sub 15L cars in India
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Old 18th March 2015, 11:58   #11
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Default re: Cars that still have a hydraulic steering

There is a misconception that hydraulic steering will feel different from electrical steering as a matter of principle. This is simply not true. It is just how the system gets designed. There are plenty of cars with hydraulic steering that are to light for my liking. Nothing to do with the hydraulics, it was designed to do so.

The big advantage of electrical steering is that it is much more easy to get it to behave exactly as the designers want. So if it feels light, it is by design, not due to the fact that is electrical.

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Old 18th March 2015, 11:58   #12
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Default re: Cars that still have a hydraulic steering

Quote:
Originally Posted by kiku007 View Post
To my limited knowledge, it's RIP Hydraulic Steering in India at least :(

Recently drove a 2010 Laura TSi and I just fell in love with the steering feedback. Absolutely solid and precise feedback.

Ford Fiesta (MY2012+) and the Ecosport have ridiculously over assisted electronic steering in comparison to the high standards set by themselves with the previous gen Fiesta, Ikon, Figo etc.

There's no going back to the hydraulic steering era I guess, but is it possible to tune the steering mechatronics to suit driving style (Sport Vs Comfort)? I'm talking about sub 15L cars in India
I'd be fairly surprised to find that feature in a sub-15-lakh car, but I personally don't think artificial "heft" is worth it. It doesn't feel the same as the natural weight in a lightly assisted hydraulic setup.

Its like the difference between analog and digital.

Oh and its not just in India :(.
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Old 18th March 2015, 12:05   #13
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Default Cars around the world that still get hydraulic steering

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Originally Posted by alto99 View Post
Linea and Punto also have hydraulic steering.

We have one of the best (Punto) and the worst (Xcent) in terms of steering feel amongst Indian cars. The Hyundai motor driven power steering does not come anywhere close to the old hydraulic unit of the Fiat. The difference is apparent when you switch cars- the Hyundai one feels like a computer joystick.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alpha1 View Post
Hydraulic system is also meant to power assist.
Electric system is also meant to power assist.
I never understood why EPS can never match up with the HPS in terms of steering feel ... anyone has ideas?

The hydraulic power steering has been perfected by over half a century of design while electric assist is still at a very early stage in comparison. EPS was introduced more as a fuel saving measure rather than a performance tool and the pure driving machines are now adopting the same out of desperation.

With companies like BMW working hard to get it right with EPS- we should get there soon. The Ford Fiesta for example has a good EPS unit which can fight it out with hydraulics.

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 18th March 2015 at 12:07.
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Old 18th March 2015, 12:12   #14
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Default re: Cars that still have a hydraulic steering

Esteem had a hydraulic steering. My Ritz though it has EPS it is quite heavy for an electric and gives me that hydraulic steering feel.
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Old 18th March 2015, 12:15   #15
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Default re: Cars that still have a hydraulic steering

My little 2010 Beat has HPS which I enjoy to the fullest for the feel and accuracy. Don't know if 2014 facelift petrols carry over them or dumped for Beat Diesel's play station console.

The new Ford Fiesta is the only-non HPS car I enjoyed to the fullest. It is so smooth for crawling and parking speeds and accurate when speed builds.

Cheers!

Vinu

Last edited by myavu : 18th March 2015 at 12:18.
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