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Old 5th November 2015, 21:02   #1
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Default Air Suspension: Has it evolved enough?

I was going through this years SEMA coverage and a couple of cars caught my attention. Like this modern hybrid sprtscar (BMW i8), super'muscle'car (Ford GT) and a hot/rat-rod (Model A)- the common feature being all were 'bagged'.
FordGT:
BMW i8:
Ford Model A hot/rat-rod:
To get that right look, the custom builders went with Air Suspension which not only takes care of the 'stance' but also of practicality. At its lowest setting the car sits slammed on to the ground, which I personally think looks pretty sick (in a nice way ofcourse), and it can be raised to give enough clearance to get over huge speed bumps and in and out of driveways.

Yes, air suspension has been around for ages now, but they really have stepped up the game now. The manufacturers claim their new systems have undergone the full extensive and exhaustive R&D, which should count for something, and that they are on par and even slightly better than coilovers now in terms of cornering ability! Big claims and they even have the numbers to prove it. Again, these are tests conducted by the air suspension manufacturers so obviously the results should be taken with a pinch of salt, but have to agree, they really have moved the game on!
This Matt Farah video I saw gave me a little better insight into it (he is a pretty reputable journalist).

Did some digging around and found some manufacturer-conducted comparos:
By AirRide:
By AccuAir: https://accuair.com/blog/air-vs-coils-european-car

With ultra-luxury cars like Rolls-Royce, Bentley and even thoroughbred supercar makers like McLaren and Lamborghini offering them as a factory installation, does it mean these systems can soon replace the conventional springs? On our commuter cars atleast? Maybe even the high-end Magnetorheological Shocks?
And ofcourse there is still the matter of cost and durability, but nothing that can'tbe improved with time, just like how electric cars are catching up to combustion engines. Right? Or are they still just for the show cars and still have a lot of catching up to do?
PROS-
Versatility: Go from ground-hugging slammed to better-than-stock ground clearance on the go and at the touch of a button!
Auto-levelling: The system adjusts itself every few seconds and on all four corners to maintain a constant ride height. Even adjusts itself according to passenger/luggage wight changes. If only it can adjust mid-corner then it will virtually eliminate body roll, right?
Installation: The kits now are being tailor-made to fit a range of both modern, as well as classic cars, without the need to weld or cut the body or suspension.
CONS-
Price: At approximately $5,000 for the entire system, this is still out of reach for most people. Found a site that sells it in India for ₹4,27,000! They atleast have EMI options (http://motorheader.com/performance/a...-india/702/buy)
Boot space: The reservoir tank will eat into the boot space a lot. Specially if you already have a woofer/sub-woofer instslled there.
EDIT: It apparently fits in the spare tire wheel well but that leaves no space to carry a spare.
Durability: I've heard the warranty is upto one year but not sure.
A nice video about the AccuAir founders-

Some expert opinions on this will help us peasants understand it a little better. So let the discussions begin!
P.S: Mods please merge it with an existing thread if one already exists. I couldn't find any through the iOS app.
P.P.S: BHP-ian noidaboy can maybe help us with some first hand experience.

Last edited by shyn : 5th November 2015 at 21:12.
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Old 5th November 2015, 22:03   #2
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Default re: Air Suspension: Has it evolved enough?

Quote:
Originally Posted by shyn View Post
With ultra-luxury cars like Rolls-Royce, Bentley and even thoroughbred supercar makers like McLaren and Lamborghini offering them as a factory installation, does it mean these systems can soon replace the conventional springs? On our commuter cars atleast? Maybe even the high-end Magnetorheological Shocks?
In my current experience, I've seen various cases in which air suspensions are far more superior to standard coil spring based suspensions, purely due to the range of ride heights that can be set on the vehicle, in an instant. Also, in terms of durability and reliability of a vehicle suspension, I believe the air suspension would perform much better than coils, again due to the fact that the loads experienced by the components will be lower.

As far as mass market commercial aspects are concerned, I am not sure if it is indeed a viable option for commuter segment cars. The systems are quite complex and require a lot of development work even at OEM level to ensure proper working and integration.

Maybe a few years down the line, these systems will be a lot more prevalent. IMO, I'd be astonished to find any manufacturer not considering their use in its future models. They sure are the way ahead
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Old 5th November 2015, 23:47   #3
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Default re: Air Suspension: Has it evolved enough?

Cost factor would be only reason the Air suspension getting into mass market segments. Its just too costly compared to standard suspension and the service cost also simply goes up.

And to countries like India where we pay twice the cost of any cars including BMW's the cost factor for such a sophisticated system would be very Big.

It can only become inevitable when this becomes a standard (like xenon which is slowly becoming one, or DRL LED's).
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Old 6th November 2015, 11:37   #4
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Default re: Air Suspension: Has it evolved enough?

Most of the luxury cars have air suspension these days. I am talking about the Mercedes and BMW cars. The S class all the way back from 2004 or something had air suspension. I didn't do research into which cars have them.

I have accuair suspension in my car which i installed it myself. I have done few test drives but not using the car right now. You can see from the pictures below. I have to set-up camber so the tires can go in a bit more.

Air Suspension: Has it evolved enough?-20150702_224530.jpg

Air Suspension: Has it evolved enough?-20150702_224700.jpg

Air Suspension: Has it evolved enough?-20150702_224825.jpg

Air Suspension: Has it evolved enough?-20150702_224853.jpg
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Old 6th November 2015, 12:49   #5
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Default re: Air Suspension: Has it evolved enough?

One BHPian also has air suspension on his Civic if I am not mistaken. I really like the concept of air suspension because bling and sanity can be fitted in one sentence easily.

That i8 from SEMA is properly mad... in a good way obviously.
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Old 9th November 2015, 11:25   #6
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Default Re: Air Suspension: Has it evolved enough?

A lot of features debut in high-end cars and, with time, water down to mass market rides. Airbags, ABS, touchscreens, reversing cameras - you name it.

However, air suspension won't. Reasons:

1. Good ride & handling isn't rocket science. Case in point - the Duster. An awesome suspension from old-school mechanicals. There are several other examples. It's all about the tuning. Of late, even Hyundai is learning a thing or two about suspension tuning.

2. Cost. Because of the hardware, it's simply too expensive.

3. Complexity.

Air suspension will remain restricted to luxury sedans & SUVs for a long time to come. They're also very useful in Supercars, in particular their ability to lift the car when you need the ground clearance. Another BIG advantage is their ability to switch between 'comfort' & 'sport' modes, thus giving the car a dual personality.
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Old 9th November 2015, 12:58   #7
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Default Re: Air Suspension: Has it evolved enough?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post

3. Complexity.

Air suspension will remain restricted to luxury sedans & SUVs for a long time to come. They're also very useful in Supercars, in particular their ability to lift the car when you need the ground clearance. Another BIG advantage is their ability to switch between 'comfort' & 'sport' modes, thus giving the car a dual personality.
You also need to take account that Air suspension is a wear and tear item. Compressors will need to be changed as also struts in due course
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Old 9th November 2015, 15:27   #8
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Default Re: Air Suspension: Has it evolved enough?

Audi A6 has adaptive air suspension and believe me it is an asset when you want to raise car for unstructured speed breakers and rough roads. And as GTO pointed out above, the agility programme gives different settings for comfort and performance drive. Quattro in my 3.0 adds to the pleasure
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Old 10th November 2015, 10:10   #9
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Default Re: Air Suspension: Has it evolved enough?

The premium offerings of yesteryears are now a reality in mass market. Having said that I am not suggesting that a Kwid or Alto K10 will have air suspension in them but certainly the technology will find a way in the mass market through some of the innovative and forward looking manufacturers. I can take the name of Hyundai comfortably.

If we look just 5 - 7 years back say 2009-2010 onwards, you will find that several first time mass market technologies have been brought in by Hyundai; a little before and you will find VGT Diesel in Verna was a bold move and people found a new love in the 110 bhp diesel rocket

When safety becomes a standard norms (with new law), companies will try to create new differentiators. I am not saying on this side of 10 lac, but certainly products in the vicinity of 20 lac may get few more technologies derived from the present premium products and I am sure economies of scale will work in favour of such moves.
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Old 10th November 2015, 12:46   #10
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Default Re: Air Suspension: Has it evolved enough?

its not to far out in the future!!! The upcoming Hexa is supposed to have the adepterra suspension, with dynamic leveling on the move. I suspect they have picked it from the landrover, but not sure if its air suspension or not. At with a rumored pricing at Innova levels, it won't be long before cheaper cars would have the suspension at least as an option.
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Old 11th November 2015, 14:13   #11
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Default Re: Air Suspension: Has it evolved enough?

Air suspension won't make to mass market cars due to the parts being expensive to replace at EOL.
It's not like mass market cars don't have options, there are suspensions designed for a few mass market cars.
Check team bhp itself for an Indian civic with air suspension.
Sorry can't post link as I'm on mobile.
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Old 11th November 2015, 15:55   #12
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Default Re: Air Suspension: Has it evolved enough?

On more than a few occasions there have been reports of air suspension collapsing in Mercedes S Class & in Range Rovers. Anywhere when there is an electronic/electrical link, there will be problems, this is the obvious flip-side to the advantage of easy customisability as is there in the air-suspension setup. From what I've read there can be sensor faults in either the front or rear suspension, battery voltage problem, software upgrade problems, compressor issues or worst case an air leak which would drop it like a rock and turn the ride into one as well.

I'm sure companies must've done enough innovation & advancements to ensure such problems do not crop up too soon but the beauty of electronics is that it can conk off at anytime & lead to massive failures. As others have said, its suited for luxury cars & expensive brands but it will not go mainstream anytime soon due to the massive initial cost+possible cost of repair/replacement.

Last edited by dark.knight : 11th November 2015 at 15:56.
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Old 12th November 2015, 10:11   #13
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Default Re: Air Suspension: Has it evolved enough?

Quote:
Originally Posted by landcruiser123 View Post
Check team bhp itself for an Indian civic with air suspension.
Sorry can't post link as I'm on mobile.
Couldn't find the link the previous day due to bad mobile network connectivity.

Here it is:

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/modifi...nda-civic.html (AccuAir Suspension on my Honda Civic)
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Old 14th November 2015, 00:38   #14
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Default Re: Air Suspension: Has it evolved enough?

A different perspective

Toyota Land cruiser & Mercedes Benz G class ---both are extreme off road vehicles and both comes without Air suspension.

Toyota Land cruiser -- KDSS Suspension with adjustable dampers.

Mercedes Benz G Class -- Rigid front and rear axles with longitudinal and transverse links, coil springs and gas-pressurized shock absorbers. Front stabilizer bar.

I don`t think Air suspension is more rugged, it only adds more complexity and maintenance cost to the vehicle. If it was more full proof then the first vehicle to use that would have been Land cruiser & G class (considering the added benefit of Ride height control in an off road vehicle) .Both vehicles are compromising on the must to have feature --just for the reliability and ruggedness in off road use conditions.

It all depends on the tuning of suspension. I think Air suspension is been used more in luxury vehicles to add the bling & tech factor.

In real world I would be more comfortable taking Coil spring suspension vehicle for long drives, off road & no road conditions. My experience with non - Air suspension vehicle has always been more positive, especially when I have used the car beyond warranty periods. Also for me Coil spring provides a consistent ride quality, unlike Air suspension which has 10 20% change in ride quality every time I use it.( especially in older vehicles)
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Old 14th November 2015, 10:27   #15
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One of the most capable off road vehicle is the range rover. It has got the air suspension if you are going in that direction.
And that's exactly why these cars become dirt cheap after the warranty period as just one shock failure and a large chunk of your money is gone.



The above video talks about range rover suspension.
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