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Your preferred suspension tune? Soft vs Medium vs Stiff

Adjustable suspensions come with a "soft" setting which greatly enhances comfort by delivering a plush, softer ride.

Your preferred suspension tune - Soft (comfortable), medium (balance), firm (sporty)

A car's suspension ultimately determines the way it rides and handles - factors which are instrumental in determining the purchase for enthusiasts. Suspensions may be tuned to provide a plush ride (soft) or very sharp handling (firm). Some might be tuned keeping in mind a balance between ride & handling.

So, what's your kind of suspension tune?

Soft (comfortable)

A soft suspension is not rigid. In general, this gives the vehicle a plush low-speed ride. Even when the road gets rough, occupants will not be uncomfortable. This sort of suspension is ideal for commuting as the comfort of occupants is prioritised.

On the downside, a soft suspension will make a car prone to body roll. Such a suspension is not suitable if the driver gets enthusiastic in corners. Again, a soft suspension will make the car wallowy at high speeds. This setup is not for enthusiastic drivers.

Examples of cars with a soft suspension setup:

MG Hector

Skoda Octavia

Kia Carnival

Maruti Ciaz

Medium (balance)

A medium suspension setup sits between a soft and firm one. It provides a good balance of ride and handling. In such cases, the car will have a compliant ride for the most part and acceptable handling for an enthusiastic driver. Such a setup is ideal for those who use their cars for commuting from Monday to Friday, and enjoy blasting on a winding country road on a Sunday morning.

Negatives? It's neither here nor there. Sometimes, one might just feel that he could do with a more plush ride or, if the roads in the area are really good, get a car that has a firmer suspension. While handling is not poor in a car with a medium suspension setup, it won't be as sharp as a car with a firm suspension.

Examples of cars with a medium suspension setup:

Skoda Kushaq

Maruti Grand Vitara

BMW 3-series

Citroen C5 Aircross

Firm (sporty)

A firm suspension is more rigid than the other two setups. In the case of most firm suspension setups, passengers will feel all the bumps and irregularities on the road, which translates to a jiggly low-speed ride.

However, a firm suspension setup gives a vehicle superior handling. There is less body roll and corners can be taken at higher speeds. The suspension is quick to recover on hitting dips and undulations on the road, which also results in better high-speed stability. 100+ kmph ride comfort on expressways is generally better with firmer suspensions (more planted feel). Those after performance and handling are more likely to enjoy a firm suspension setup.

Examples of cars with a firm suspension setup:

Kia Seltos

Ford Ecosport

Volkswagen Tiguan

Tata Nexon

Nissan Magnite

Special Mention = Adjustable Suspensions

Clearly giving you the best of both worlds, adjustable suspensions come with a "soft" setting which greatly enhances comfort by delivering a plush, softer ride. Flick the magic button on the open road & things firm up, making the suspension more dynamically-oriented now. The Kodiaq is the first car in its segment to offer adjustable dampers & we sure hope other brands / cars follow. This dual-personality is a MUST-HAVE for India, thanks to our varying road conditions.

Here's what GTO had to say on the matter:

In my 20s, I'd have nodded vigorously & voted for "firm & sporty" . Today? No way. My first choice is "medium" . Extremely happy with the balance of cars like the 3-Series, Kushaq / Slavia, C5, etc. This is perfect for India. Will reward you for the 10% of the times you are driving hard & keep you acceptably comfortable for the other 90%. Stiff & firm suspensions are no longer for me - heck, I'd pick an Octavia or Hector tune over a stiff back-breaking setup. My sister drives a Tiguan and I hate travelling in it to Pawna. Do consider the aftermarket also = My next car (arriving in December) has a bumpy suspension, so I’ve already gotten an after-market suspension which improves ride comfort. There is plenty of high quality aftermarket support today.

Here's what BHPian Dr.AD had to say on the matter:

I voted for "Medium (Balanced)".

For Indian driving conditions, and for my long weekend drives on mixed highways and rural roads conditions, a well-balanced suspension is my choice. I am quite happy with the suspensions of my F30 3-series, which falls in this well balanced category.

However, for pure highway drives, I would like a firm and sporty suspension. On some fast runs on smooth highways, I find my F30 suspensions a bit too soft for my liking (even when I am running Run Flat Tyres). I would have loved them to be a tad firmer for those conditions. And that is why I find it amusing when people complain of harshness of RFTs on F30s (or even G20s, which are not firm by any standards). For me, even with RFTs, the F30 or G20 ride is a bit too soft for highways (but perfect for bad rural roads and overall mixed driving conditions).

On a couple of times, I got a ride in an M340i on long highways (Bangalore to Chennai), and loved that ride. M340i has optimal firmness for highway drives. I really like that sporty firm feel on the highways. So maybe, my choice would be somewhere between medium to firm suspensions in general, for our driving conditions.

What I absolutely do not like is soft suspensions. That soft, wallowy ride is the worst, and no matter what the conditions, I would stay away from such soft cars.

Here's what BHPian aravind.anand had to say on the matter:

My daily driver is a Fiesta 1.6S with sport-tuned firm suspension. Apart from the corners where it makes me smile, there are far too many bumps and ruts that have caused me to wince and cringe.

I had to think twice between soft & medium suspensions before voting, I dream of a cushy ride that much! Considering the condition of roads in our country, firm is definitely not enjoyable.

I finally chose medium, as soft suspensions will roll too much and also tend to bob up & down at highway speeds.

Read BHPian comments for more insights and information.

 
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