Team-BHP > The Indian Car Scene

Search this Thread
Old 7th March 2018, 19:20   #31
Distinguished - BHPian
ACM's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 4,691
Thanked: 4,149 Times
Default Re: Why does ride quality suck in so many luxury cars?

Originally Posted by Urban_Nomad View Post
I have zero experience owning a big fat expensive vehicle and very limited experience driving one (limited to a friend's BMW a few times)

I could be wrong but don't these cars come with adjustable suspension? Typically, driving modes are not just linked to engine behavior but also suspension stiffness, including custom settings that can be adjusted on the fly

Does this not work?
Yes and No.

Adjustable dampers in the BMW stiffen or soften the travel range of the shock absorbers but the softest setting still has to deal with the inherent stiffness of runflat low profile tyres on large rims.

It's like the settings are:

1) Sporty (Written as Normal or Eco)
2) Very Sporty ( Written as Sport)
3) Crazy Sporty (Written as Sport +)

In Mercs with Air Suspension if it is an SUV like the GLE or GLS due to the height of the vehicle in comfort mode with cushioning at highest level one get significant lateral movement and at lower sport mode the lateral movement reduces and ride harshness increases.

Audi tends to be less sporty but has a soft ride.

The E Class Merc scrapes 30% of the speed bumps. This can't be comfortable.

JLR specializes in Harsh engine noise and AT tyres on stuff like the Velar that will only be driven on tarmac can't help but add to road noise and bumpy feeling.

The S Class, 7 Series and A8 do manage magic but in India the chauffeur has all the fun.

Last edited by ACM : 7th March 2018 at 19:22.
ACM is offline   (6) Thanks
Old 8th March 2018, 08:41   #32
Distinguished - BHPian
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Beans Town
Posts: 1,848
Thanked: 8,309 Times
Default Re: Audi Q5 vs Mercedes GLE vs others

Originally Posted by smartcat View Post
Out of 8 or so SUVs mentioned on this thread, looks like atleast 6 of them failed to impress in ride quality or noise insulation or both. What's with the luxury car makers? Aren't these two parameters supposed to be basics of a luxury car?
Not only luxury car makers (BMW, Mercedes, Audi) but pseudo luxury cars made by many mainstream brands these days, do not impress when it comes to ride quality and/or noise insulation.. the buyers have only themselves to blame in this regard.

For one it took me a some time to realize that I was always a fan of smooth/soft suspension and good noise isolation.. a quick ride in a sporty car will always impress but an ownership experience may be completely different. Car buyers up until the early 2000's had only one priority - "smooth" driving i.e ability to absorb the rough roads, torn tarmacs and gigantic potholes of our nation. Somehow, by mimicking the western car reviewers, the local media reviewers have suddenly begun to make it seem that the tightest steerings, hardest suspensions and basically anything that makes a car sporty including exhausts with pops, bangs and burbles will lead to automotive bliss. N number of Indian YouTube reviewers now also try to mimic the western world reviews of cars learning into corners with accelerator floored and how it jumps out of the corner and returns to the straight etc. Again for most urban commuters like myself, this is not only a unfathomable scenario.. its something we just do not wish to do even if the situation presents itself. In stop-go traffic and with 50 motorists leering and scraping through, all we want is an isolated experience so that the noise, smoke and the harshness of the outside world stays cut-off. In the event of terrible roads or big potholes we just want a smooth (minimum recoil) experience.

There are many reasons why luxury cars and regular cars lack the comfort :

- Tyres (hard & cheap factory tyres or even worse.. runflats, both with low profiles)

- Bigger the alloy wheels the worse off the ride quality gets, I've driven same spec cars with big alloys and smaller steel wheels.. the smaller steel ones make a night and day difference to softness while alloys being lighter are generally more hollow and bumpy.

- Exhausts can be made muted in luxury cars but car reviewers will call it boring and without character.. so most are made to have burbles and roars to give some feedback in their cars which mask speed perhaps too efficiently. Mankind seems to want a reward for pushing to illegal speeds and that reward seems to be the exhaust note. Little wonder that Audi and BMW even pipe artificial or semi-artificial sounds through the speakers.

- Sporty is IN, as a result everything that is considered "sporty" and yet actually adds very, very little to real-word performance is being done in luxury cars, be it the speaker piped engine noise, faux exhaust in the back to make it seem like twin exhausts (certain Audis have it), spoiler (certain Porsches have the only true use of rear winged spoiler, rest are garnishing), massive alloys etc. Sports cars are a lifestyle choice in the western word.. they're not used as the only car in most cases.. and there are more vintage, non-sporty cars used just for family and load lugging purposes in the U.S and Europe than India, easily.

German cars are generally not known for great plushness in ride.. Mercedes and certain Audis maybe, but surely not the rest. BMW's are fun but I don't think they can be a regular car in India unless their tyres are replaced with regular spec Michelins or Pirellis. Sure there are many fans of sporty automobiles but equal times there are people who seek only pure comfort. The last time I took a long drive on the Skoda Yeti I got back pain due to the stone-hard seats and extremely high tyre pressure (we found out that the ASS bumped it to 40 psi), the return was slightly better with 30 psi on all 4). The current Innova was used as a taxi for an outstation trip.. again quite bumpy and rattles all over the place.

As long as there is demand for sporty vehicles, comfort will fly out the window unless its a Rolls-Royce or an S-Class. A reviewer who reviewed the 2018 Phantom called it too soft and called the steering numb.. obviously he missed the point of this car by a hundred miles. As far as I'm concerned, its all about comfort and noiselessness.. to me travel today is pure point A to point B activity and nothing more, in this chaos of Indian traffic.. and for that every mainstream car that I've owned until date, has been more than adequate.
dark.knight is offline   (26) Thanks
Old 8th March 2018, 11:03   #33
Senior - BHPian
venkyhere's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: hump city
Posts: 1,062
Thanked: 4,346 Times
Infractions: 0/1 (7)
Default Re: Why does ride quality suck in so many luxury cars?

completely agree with dark.knight

Somehow, new age car reviewing media, and consequently us, have got it into our heads that driving in india is like driving in europe. So untrue. Satisfaction of owning and driving a car has become more of a question of bragging rights with bhp figures and cornering speeds and how much top speed you hit on your weekend highway trip ; rather than the actual tangible benefit of being in a car rather than public transport - isolation from noise, smooth ride & less tiredness at the end of journey. Its a logical progression we made from horses to horse driven carriages to carriages with rubber wheels to motor cars with leaf springs to coilover springs with struts to independent suspension. Making it stiffer is just placing the onus of comfort on the road builder - which they can, in europe, which we never can, in india.
The kind of bad roads, traffic snarls and utter noise the average european car driver faces in a year, the average indian car driver faces in a week ; or in a day if you live in bangalore. While thinking like clarkson makes it exciting, thinking like may makes more sense and helps you live longer.
PS : I find the humble linea and duster match or sometimes even exceed the ride quality of some of the big germans

Last edited by venkyhere : 8th March 2018 at 11:04.
venkyhere is offline   (9) Thanks
Old 8th March 2018, 12:53   #34
ashwin1224's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Nagpur
Posts: 267
Thanked: 465 Times
Default Re: Why does ride quality suck in so many luxury cars?

Like many of the others postesd, luxury in ride quality isnt present in most of the "luxury" brands. I drive a 7 year old 1.2 TDI Polo, my dad is chauffeured in a 2013 GL350 while my mom drives a humble 2014 Celerio AMT and we have a 2016 Innova Crysta as well.

Ive driven all these cars for 10k+ kms over time and this is what I feel:

1. 1.2 Polo: This is the most comfortable from a driver's POV. Its small, but isnt too small, the ride is just fine, handles really well and has great fuel economy. At the time of purchase, I was concerned about the supposedly mediocre diesel mill driving this hatch, however in the past 7 years not once have I thought "I wish it had another 20bhp" or "I wish it made another 10nm at 1500rpm". This coupled with experiences with other cars has lead me to completely ignore any and all automotive reviewers scrutinising indian car engines.

2. Mercedes-Benz GL350: HUGE. GINORMOUS. BEASTLY. These words define it aptly. Its got air ride, 250+bhp and enough torque to kick start a planet. It cruises effortlessly and does everything it claims to do. However, the ride quality is only marginally better than the Polo. Even though its got the fancy 4matic, it is a "Sports" UV, it has to be sporty, it has to have 19" wheels, it has to have firm seats. Also the middle bench doesn't recline. Where it does score immensely is noise suppression, you could be blocking the road while taking an awkward 3 point u turn and have an endless que of motorists blaring their assorted horns at you, but you'll not notice them at all. Just pull up the sun shades and ignore the plebs lol

3. Innova Crysta: Great car, good engine, really good ride quality. Definitely better than the polo and atleast a car length ahead of the GL. The rear seats in the captain seat config is great, you can recline all the way, you can even move the front seats from the back! Let down is its price, and the even greater predecessor. We've had that car for 200k kms and it was an absolute pleasure to ride in even when we sold it off. The new crysta doesn't hold a candle to the value and ride quality the older innova presented.

4. Celerio AMT: Sportiest of the lot surprisingly, it doesnt have anything in it. The ride quality is bad. But this so-called econobox is surprisingly fun to drive! It will only take you to 80, given an empty road and atleast a kilometre to play with, but getting it to 80 is so much fun. It makes all sorts of noises, rattles bolts in the neighbouring marutis as well.

The point is, the Indian scenario is very different than the world. We've been apeing the car trends and cultures in the developed world. Those trends not necessarily work here. Sure a 5 series is great, so is the GL, but here in India, whats the point in having a car capable of hitting 200kmph, when your average speed is limited to 50kmph due to conditions, even on the highways. The japs have got their formula right with their vehicles for india, good quality, plush ride ,not corner carvers, reliable and economical. However things change once more and more money is involved and we as buyers are literally taken for a ride. Unfortunately, this wont stop, people WILL have the money, They WILL try to outdo their neighbour and car companies will continue selling products made for a different world, and we will continue to oggle at them with envy.
ashwin1224 is offline   (7) Thanks
Old 8th March 2018, 13:11   #35
Senior - BHPian
sgiitk's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Gurugram
Posts: 7,938
Thanked: 4,683 Times
Default Re: Why does ride quality suck in so many luxury cars?

Depends on what to you is good ride quality. If you have a performance oriented car they obviously the comfort will be compromised. Many cars now allow you to 'dial in' the performance in terms of comfort.
sgiitk is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 8th March 2018, 13:32   #36
vishal9999's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Pune
Posts: 68
Thanked: 53 Times
Default Re: Why does ride quality suck in so many luxury cars?

My solution to the india specific problem.
I use two cars –for City and highway use. Toyota Camry in City –the suspension , vibration, rear seat is best of any car under 80 lakhs & Toyota Landcruiser for highway ,country side roads ---Here again suspension is superb and can`t feel a bump or bouncy feel which is present in most air -suspension cars in india.
Also one more problem I have seen in cars with air suspension --the ride quality detoriates after 100kms of usage in indian road conditions ,I don’t know its only me or my love for Landcruiser.
I feel body on frame is more adaptive in Indian road condition since vibrations are not transferred to the cabin and ride quality remains consistent even after 500kms of non stop driving ---I owned previous generation Range rover sport the ride quality and vibrations for the same are miles apart current generation monocoque Range rover.
vishal9999 is offline   (2) Thanks
Old 8th March 2018, 13:37   #37
sj_koova's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 664
Thanked: 438 Times
Default Re: Why does ride quality suck in so many luxury cars?

When I bought my Tiguan highline, many members in this forum advised to go for comfortline just for better ride quality.
I ended up with Highline for many other reasons and if I have one thing to complain about the car, it is the ride quality combined with the stiff seat.
While Tiguan is excellent for long highway drives, it is extremely painful in the city, especially at lower speeds.

My brother has a Q3 and I sat in the rear seat for around 6 hours during a long ride mostly through hilly and bumpy roads. I ended up with nausea that I had never experienced in life riding in a car. Sound insulation is exceptionally good though.

Without any doubt, German cars are for westerns countries. They don't give a damn about Indian customers and conditions as the market is so insignificant for them.
Better to be happy with Japanese offers, especially if you have elderly people riding in your car.

Surprisingly Kodiaq has done a better job, more inline to Indian driving conditions.

I have a Tiguan, CEDIA, and Grand i10 at home. I feel less fatigue when I drive the Tiguan. I believe it has to do with the sound insulation and better air conditioning. CEDIA and i10 heat up pretty bad and the window glasses do not block heat at all. Also, the roof portion is relatively hotter despite the direction AC is blowing into. Tiguan is different though. AC works like charm and the entire cabin gets evenly cooled. Also, the window glasses are certainly doing a great job in blocking the sun.
So Tiguan is the default choice for my city commute despite the stiff ride.
sj_koova is offline   (2) Thanks
Old 8th March 2018, 13:46   #38
Distinguished - BHPian
dhanushs's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Bathery/BLR
Posts: 4,012
Thanked: 8,343 Times
Default Re: Why does ride quality suck in so many luxury cars?

I think everyone has chipped in with valuable points here.

One thing that I have noticed and would like to add is seats. A soft car seat is comfortable for short distances and bad roads. However, a slightly harder seat cushioning with proper support makes wonders for longer distances, but, with the downside of not 'feeling' comfy over short runs.

Would love to know what others think of the same.
dhanushs is offline  
Old 8th March 2018, 13:58   #39
King_pin09's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 459
Thanked: 642 Times
Default Re: Why does ride quality suck in so many luxury cars?

Frankly speaking, the very moment I read the heading of the thread I browsed through online dictionaries to identify the technical meaning of the term “LUXURY”. A brief search led me to the following explanations,

1. A state of great comfort or elegance, especially when involving great expense.
2. An inessential, desirable item which is expensive or difficult to obtain.
3. A pleasure obtained only rarely.

In essence, the term LUXURY relates directly to the factors of “price”, “availability”, “elegance” or “great comfort”. Thus the term “Comfort” comes only as one of the attributes associated with “Luxury” and not the only factor that defines it. I now learn that my understanding of luxury as a state of “ethereal comfort” or “total absence of disturbances” does not hold any water.

Now, let us pick these so called luxury cars and see where they fit in the above definitions.

1. Comfortable, may be or may not be. But highly expensive to buy, own and run. Elegance definitely yes, they look good and are built with tastefully crafted exotic materials - (box ticked)
2. Absolutely inessential but obtained as a symbol of status. Yes considering the money involved, they are difficult to near impossible to obtain for majority of the populace - (Box ticked)
3. Yes, the pleasure of being seen in one is limited to a few elite citizen and not available to public as a whole - (Box ticked)

Thus these cars clearly stand as “Luxury” possessions. The levels of comfort they offer may vary substantially (this explains why some super expensive cars are still cramped, have firm ride, may not even be reliable or have an exhaustive list of equipment), yet it only remains as one of the attributes and does not alter the elite tag associated with the Car.
King_pin09 is offline   (4) Thanks
Old 8th March 2018, 14:14   #40
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 487
Thanked: 257 Times
Default Re: Why does ride quality suck in so many luxury cars?

I thought the S & E Class Airmatic suspensions were the best in the Business?

Also it depends on the tarmac & consistent tyre pressure in all wheels. Concrete = Artificial Feel. Well tarred and leveled road = Best experience with less tyre sound.

For all i remember the Mitsubishi Lancer & Hyundai first gen Accent with tall side walls offered the barely perceptible road surface feel while driving about town, both in driver and passenger seats.
Ford5 is offline  
Old 8th March 2018, 14:56   #41
Distinguished - BHPian
androdev's Avatar
Join Date: May 2007
Location: bangalore
Posts: 2,631
Thanked: 13,075 Times
Default Re: Why does ride quality suck in so many luxury cars?

The title should be: Why do people want hot wheels, high GC, "utility" cabin, diesel economy, road presence, etc. and yet expect great ride quality?

The quality of ride and suspension is at the heart of the appeal of luxury cars to me.
androdev is online now   (3) Thanks
Old 8th March 2018, 15:08   #42
ashwin1224's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Nagpur
Posts: 267
Thanked: 465 Times
Default Re: Why does ride quality suck in so many luxury cars?

Originally Posted by androdev View Post
The title should be: Why do people want hot wheels, high GC, "utility" cabin, diesel economy, road presence, etc. and yet expect great ride quality?
Because it is what the makers, salesmen, and the automotive journalists claim these vehicles posses.
ashwin1224 is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 8th March 2018, 16:17   #43
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Hyderabad
Posts: 573
Thanked: 1,325 Times
Default Re: Why does ride quality suck in so many luxury cars?

The so-called intermediate luxury cars like the 3/5/C/E/A4/A6 are really normal sedans (akin to the Dzire/Ciaz in the Indian Market). The true luxury cars are the A8, S & the 7 which have a supremely better ride than most of the Indian cars. When we talk of HEXA, we should note that it is the flagship car for Tata. Hence another flagship car should be compared to its ride. Of course for this car, as compared to the BMWs, we get ride in trade-off for looks, fit & finish and the rest of the luxury seats and the i drive and adjustible drive modes and stuff.

Being a low volume market, it doesn't make business sense to develop India specific parts/architecture to tune them to the Indian scenario. Yes, the cars are expensive but most of them are due to the high import tax structure in India (a 3 series is 22l in USD while a 5 series is 34l unlike almost 50% higher in India). These prices are also the avg car purchase expenditure in US families (33k USD ~ 3 series price in USA) where as the Indian market price reels at around 8l INR (12k USD).

I have observed that the Superb price bracket cars(include the SUVs etc without the big 3 Badge) offer the best ride in India. Of course, they rake in sufficient volumes for the India specific Ride & Handling tunings. Dusters & all other MNCs (reanult, ford etc) have gone for the India specific parts only because it makes business sense and not for the love for India.
1.2TSI7DSG is offline   (4) Thanks
Old 8th March 2018, 17:04   #44
nishsingh's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Hyderabad
Posts: 355
Thanked: 1,060 Times
Default Re: Why does ride quality suck in so many luxury cars?

Back in the late 90s, when I was buying my first computer and people used to assemble desktops, there would be numerous articles advising purchases on the right processor, RAM, storage, even the soundcard and CD player. However hardly any article touched upon the monitor - the part that the user will be looking at all the time.

Somehow a car-buying decision has fallen into the same trap. People are hardly paying attention to ride-quality - probably the most important factor contributing to comfort, which is why (most) people buy cars in the first place.
nishsingh is offline  
Old 8th March 2018, 17:45   #45
xjosephjacob's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Kochi
Posts: 266
Thanked: 645 Times
Default Re: Why does ride quality suck in so many luxury cars?

Our 4 year old Duster AWD rides like a dream when compared to an equally old pre-worshiped BMW 3 Series in the family. More than the seats, Ride quality is about finding a balance between relative motion of many of the suspension components and the road surface, and I wonder why the most of the cars sold in India suck at it big time ! Ride quality is easily the most overlooked item in car purchases by the mass market- this is a segment where people fall flat for plastics and gimmicks. The Big 3, probably doesn't care tuning their cars for Indian roads at this point of time as they remain truly aspirational products, but how long ? And why the regular Joe's can't get it right like a Renault or say a Fiat is beyond me.
xjosephjacob is offline   (1) Thanks

Most Viewed
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Copyright ©2000 - 2022,
Proudly powered by E2E Networks