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Old 7th September 2010, 20:53   #1
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Default "Handling" - the most ambiguous/misleading term

When discussing cars and bikes, we use the term "Handling" a lot. However, I find that different people seem to mean different things with this term. While that is not wrong in any way, it gives opposite meanings depending on what they are trying to say.

Example: Take this statement: "WagonR's strong point is its handling."

Is this statement true?

A bhpian or auto journalist may say "No", for obvious reasons. But many people will say "Yes", because it is "easier to handle" because it is easier to chuck around town than many other cars. So this raises the question of what "handling" exactly means:

Wikipedia definition: Automobile handling - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
To copy from there, "Automobile handling and vehicle handling are descriptions of the way wheeled vehicles perform transverse to their direction of motion, particularly during cornering and swerving."

Definition 1: How well the car holds its straight line, how well it holds its ground/hugs the road when thrown into a corner at speed, and how stable it remains when braked hard.

Definition 2: How easy the car is to "handle" i.e steer around or throw around.

... and I don't know, people might have even more definitions. I am really confused, because one friend rejected Swift saying he didn't like its "handling", and went on to buy an i10 .

When it comes to bikes, it becomes even more ambiguous.

Definition 1: How steady (heavy?) the bike is, showing little or no signs of tripping over or skidding when thrown into a corner.

Definition 2: How easy it is to turn the handle bar.

Definition 3: How easy it is to ride the bike in a zigzag way.

... and more.

So one person will define WagonR as the best-handling car, another will call Punto the best handler. The important thing here is, Punto is the "worst handling" car to person 1, whereas WagonR is the "worst handling" car to person 2, because their definitions of "handling" are the exact opposite of each other. Similarly one person will call R15 the best handler, and another the Apache. And yet another, the Bullet .

This question came up in my mind when someone (who has been driving cars and bikes from the age of 14) told me today: "Get yourself an Activa. It is best in handling" (when I am avoiding scooters ONLY because of handling).

And that got me thinking. Is it us enthusiasts who use the term "handling" wrongly? Or, is it just ignorance and wrong usage of terms? Is there an "auto dictionary" where we can refer and correct people?

OR, is it a purely subjective word which cannot be defined or at least approximately defined? If that is the case, then we shouldn't give ratings for "handling" for any vehicle as an absolute factor (like performance, which can be measured), and rather categorize it along with "looks" which is subjective.

Last edited by rajushank84 : 7th September 2010 at 21:01.
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Old 7th September 2010, 21:18   #2
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I think the context, in most motoring circles, is definition 1. Definition 2 isn't really handling. I know what you're trying to say but in general, the context should make it clear.
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Old 7th September 2010, 21:26   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rajushank84 View Post

Definition 1: How well the car holds its straight line, how well it holds its ground/hugs the road when thrown into a corner at speed, and how stable it remains when braked hard.

Add to that how does the car communicate
  • the load shifts from the wheels on one side to the other
  • the magnitude of grip available at the tyre-road contact patch.
  • the attributes of the surface being driven on

Quote:
Originally Posted by rajushank84 View Post
Definition 2: How easy the car is to "handle" i.e steer around or throw around.

... and I don't know, people might have even more definitions. I am really confused, because one friend rejected Swift saying he didn't like its "handling", and went on to buy an i10 .
That would be ease of "Maneuverability"
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Old 7th September 2010, 21:33   #4
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There is nothing subjective here. Looks may be! But not the handling or performance of a car.

Its simply the requirements of a person from a car! A easy to turn EPS setup in the i10 may have impressed your friend compared to the Swift which gives a lot of feedback which an automobile enthusiast would love.

Atleast this was between the Swift & i10. One of my friend's bro who owns a Figo hates it steering and says the i20 has got one of the best steering! b; ,io
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Old 8th September 2010, 00:35   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rajushank84 View Post
When discussing cars and bikes, we use the term "Handling" a lot. However, I find that different people seem to mean different things with this term. While that is not wrong in any way, it gives opposite meanings depending on what they are trying to say.

Example: Take this statement: "WagonR's strong point is its handling."
When most people talk about cars and the way it handles, the tend to confuse between maneuverability and handling.

Cars like the i10, Wagon R, Alto and the lot are very nimble and maneuverable within the city and tight parking spaces, but this in my opinion doesn't really translate into good handling as they do not go around corners the way one would want, grips well enough and feel planted at high speeds.

In my opinion, most easily maneuverable are not great handlers and the best handling cars that easily maneuverable.
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Old 8th September 2010, 00:43   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grafin View Post
In my opinion, most easily maneuverable are not great handlers and the best handling cars that easily maneuverable.
Hatches like the Fiesta, Golf, Focus and Clio are very maneuverable and handle superbly too.
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Old 8th September 2010, 01:06   #7
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There is no need for this thread.
You're just trying to find a word to express it
The word is 'tactile' or 'nimble'
Short wheelbase = nimbleness, in general.
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Old 8th September 2010, 04:13   #8
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Its very simple. People who think W-R handles well are misinformed (I wanted to use the word ignorant, but didn't just for their benefit).
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Old 8th September 2010, 09:27   #9
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A really interesting thread Blue_Pulsar!

The term "handling" technically refers to the following as per OEMs'

Ride Stability: This refers to how much the car behaves planted while in speeds, taking corners / gradients, braking & acceleration / deceleration. This is related to the front & rear axles load distributions (termed as FAW & RAW), the height of cg (Center of Gravity) of the vehicle from ground under various conditions & also the aerodynamics (only for high speeds).

Maneuverability: The easiness to steer or move the vehicle. It relates to the Turning radius (to take U-turns & for parking with very minimum number of maneuvers), Steering efforts (to turn the wheel in low / parking & high speeds), Pedal efforts (the pedal response, i.e. how smooth / hard it is) & also the tyre grip (for better road load distribution).

In order to achieve good stability, a higher wheel base & wheel tracks are preferred (literally the wheels need to be in the corners of the vehicle), but higher maneuverability is achieved with shorter track & wheel bases to get low turning radius & steering efforts. This is considering the vehicle length, width, height, tyres, & pedals as same in both cases.
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Old 8th September 2010, 11:03   #10
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So this confirms, my understanding was not that incorrect after all. People use the word "handling" for "maneuverability". I think car and bike buyers need to find a balance between these two aspects, depending on their need (city, highway etc).

@nitrous: I did think twice before starting a thread just for this. The reason why I wanted to put this as a separate thread is, I googled and couldn't find an authoritative definition for this term. I remember, when I was a newbie (am still a newbie, but I was even more a newbie around 5 years back) I used to read reviews in team-bhp, other forums and magazines, and I used to find auto-journalists giving ratings on handling. At the same time, user reviews like the ones in Mouthshut used to give different ratings for handling, so I got very confused. I used to search about Maruti 800's handling and get very confused whether its a good handler or bad. Took me some time (and actual ownership of the car and a drive in a few other cars) to realize the difference. So I thought this can be a good input for newbies (like me) who are searching about handling, and trying to understand what all it means and how to judge a vehicle's handling capabilities. IMHO one should read reviews, but should also fully understand them, test the vehicle and find out & experience personally what the reviewer is saying before taking it as an input. That way, one can judge both the vehicle and the review correctly. If you still feel this thread is not useful, please remove it (no offence at all!).

On a side note: I am in a similar dilemma trying to make up my mind about R15 right now. That's what prompted me to start this thread. A newbie like me could get carried away reading reports of its excellent handling, and expect it to be super-flickable in the city traffic, which it doesn't seem to be.
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Old 8th September 2010, 11:16   #11
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you are right, I too have seen people interchangably using such terms and argue based on their feelings.

Good thread, and goos definitions over here already.

@rajess_in stated the definitions by OEM. Are they saying that Handling is both Ride Stability + Manoverability?
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Old 8th September 2010, 13:02   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NFS View Post
@rajess_in stated the definitions by OEM. Are they saying that Handling is both Ride Stability + Manoverability?

Yes indeed! Vehicle handling is a combination of both Ride Stability & Maneuverability.

OEMs' try to achieve the perfect balance between two by optimising the wheel base & wheel track parameters.

Just to give a better understanding, a vehicle that is really stable at speeds / corners but is not very easy to park in cramped areas as well as a vehicle that is easy to ride inside traffic / narrow lanes, but is not stable to drive in highways are equally rejected by the market.
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Old 8th September 2010, 13:43   #13
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when i say "I want to manoeuvre the turn at 120kmph" or "a wagon r handles well in the city and the swift handles well at speeds", is it wrong?
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Old 8th September 2010, 14:05   #14
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Handling is a very relative term. Any car on its own is a good handler.

We have an OHC VTEC, Innova and a Wagon R at home. They are all good handlers in their own respect. The diff is evident only when i try to drive one car like the other.

A Lotus Elise might be considered a very good handling car, but compare it to a race car and you start seeing the flaws.

So when a person says a car does or doesn't handle, it's just his personal view, based on his personal experience. It should not be generalized.



Shan2nu

Last edited by Shan2nu : 8th September 2010 at 14:08.
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Old 8th September 2010, 14:16   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shan2nu View Post
Handling is a very relative term. Any car on its own is a good handler.

So when a person says a car does or doesn't handle, it's just his personal view, based on his personal experience. It should not be generalized.

Shan2nu

You are right!

Handling is a very subjective term to end users (customers). Because, you need to drive another car to know how well your current car handles to compare and conclude.

What will be seen as a definite advantage by one individual may not be appear as same to another.
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