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Suspension review from an race enthusiast

Discussion in 'Model 3: Driving Dynamics' started by gtmotor, Apr 14, 2018.

  1. gtmotor

    gtmotor Member

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    I'll say right up front I'm not a professional driver but I did stay in a Holiday Inn last night (just kidding). Seriously though I've been racing vehicles for over 15 years now and have setup and tweaked suspension settings on a wide range of cars.

    I love the Model 3's suspension so far. Whoever thinks it's jarring or too stiff must have extremely limited seat time in other sport-oriented cars. Other cars in our garage = 2017 MINI JCW Countryman, 2015 MINI Cooper on H&R coilovers, 2011 BMW 3 series sport wagon (going away), and my beloved Lotus Exige on Nitron double adjustible coilovers.

    IMG_20171006_200643958.jpg exige_sedona.jpg

    I was blown away with the Model 3 taking it through my favorite twisty road last night. I was expecting it to be very similar to our 2011 sport wagon due to comparable weight and tire setups. The Model 3 blew it away and I was taking some of the corners close to the same speed that I rail the Lotus through there (granted I never really go above 7/10ths on the street).

    So here's a quick comment to anyone who isn't happy with their Model 3's suspension... go take it on a seriously twisty road or a racetrack to appreciate why it's tuned how it is :)

    IMG_20180413_182253.jpg
     
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  2. cab

    cab Member

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    gtmotor, when was your car built? Most of the folks complaining had the cars bult pre12/27/2017 which apparently jad a "too firm" suspensions. Cars built after that date are a bit softer (and early owners are having their suspensions swapped for the later/softer setup).
     
  3. gtmotor

    gtmotor Member

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    My VIN is 175XX so it's a pretty recent build. I just picked it up yesterday!
     
  4. Unbeliever

    Unbeliever Member

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    I posted a quick review of the TM3 on twisties on another board, copied below. This is not from the perspective of a race driver, but a dude with a few instructor led track days on both motorcycles and cars, who doesn't aim to really go "fast" but to have fun in corners.

    --------------------------------

    I took the TM3 up the Crest to Newcomb's to see what it could do.

    Not as good as my S2000, but better than I expected, and it impressed me. Somewhere between the S2000 and the VW e-Golf, but way closer to the S2000.

    The TM3 exhibited very little body roll in the turns, though with the rubber it's wearing, was prone to understeer. And not just quick turn entry understeer, but mid-turn accelerator induced understeer, too. I drive cars like I ride motorcycles. Quick weight transfer to the front to start the turn in, turn, then accelerate through the turn. Works well with the S2000, not so much other cars. But the car went where I wanted it to with no wallowing or uncertainty. Once I figured out the limits of the tires and stayed within them, it was pretty fun, with no scary, or even nervous moments at all.

    The car was so smooth and effortless the speed was deceptively fast. On occasion I'd glance down to the speedometer and exclaim "Wow! It doesn't feel that fast." On the way up, I didn't touch the brake pedal at all. It was all 1-pedal driving with regen in "standard". I didn't try Autosteer, as that would be both tragically missing the point of being on twisties, and potentially being tragic in other ways as I was trusting it not to enter me in the Angeles Crest Cliff Diver's Club, and even at a sedate pace, there are too many speed changes to handle the various curves safely.

    I reiterate the same disappointment in steering feel in the TM3 that I had in the e-Golf. There really isn't any road feel. It was tight and responsive in sport mode, but there was little feedback through my hands. I knew understeer was happening by the direction the car was going and the sound of the tires. With the S2000 (also with electric power steering), I could feel understeer and road imperfections via the steering wheel. I think it is because both the e-Golf and the TM3 are constantly on and servo on steering force, while the S2000 generally turns down, and even turns off power steering assist once you get moving at a good pace.

    I fully charged before leaving, and it took 20% battery to get up to Newcomb's. (at roughly 480ish Wh/mi) and 4% to get back (at the bottom the trip meter showed 80 Wh/mi). This was at a "spirited" driving pace. I have no doubt it can go a lot lower on the way up, and negative on the way down if I went at a normal pace. I ended the day at the bottom by heading over to Dr. Hoggly Woggly's to binge on meat.

    I think I'll refrain from taking the TM3 on "look for twisties" drives, and use the S2000. But the TM3 is no slouch if I do come across them.

    --Carlos V.
     
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  5. Swampgator

    Swampgator Active Member

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    Great summary. Thank you. I used to own an S2000 and if this car is anywhere close to that experience I will be blown away. Just curious...what wheels/tires are on your model 3?
    I am leaning towards the 20s with sport tires.
     
  6. gtmotor

    gtmotor Member

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    Unbeliever: That's a great review, thanks for cross posting! Just the fact that you compare it to your S2000 means a lot :) I used to have an AP1 way back in the day (2003-ish) and I still miss that car sometimes.

    "The car was so smooth and effortless the speed was deceptively fast. On occasion I'd glance down to the speedometer and exclaim "Wow! It doesn't feel that fast." "

    I've had the exact same reaction a lot since getting it. The acceleration is a little underwhelming to me but then I glance down and am shocked at the speed I'm going with such little drama. I'm used to a huge ruckus right behind my head with the Lotus; tons of noise, rattles, squeaks, and a supercharger screaming all to get very similar 0-60 times.

    My Model 3 has the 19" sport wheels with the Continental high performance tires.
     
  7. Az_Rael

    Az_Rael Supporting Member

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    Then it already has the “softer suspension” parts I would guess - you can check the revision letters on your struts to see. Rev E is the latest, mine had a Rev B from the factory.

    Mine was built before 12/17 and it was as firm as our P85D with the plus suspension running the 21” staggered setup. I had the Rev E suspension installed, and am much happier with the results.
     
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  8. dgaultiere

    dgaultiere Member

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    While I don't have any track experience, I too am a driving enthusiast and have always preferred my cars to handle well on the twisties. My current car is a BMW 3-Series and before that I had a VW GTI. I rented a Model 3 for a day last month and had a similar experience on some great mountain roads here in Santa Barbara.

    However, the one thing that bugs me is that, aesthetically, the suspension looks to "high" with larger gaps between the wheel arches than you would see on other sport sedans like a BMW 3-Series...

    Have any of you looked at the Unplugged Performance springs? I know there are couple of reviews out there already but I would love to hear a review of them from someone more performance-oriented like you guys... do they actually improve handling in the corners and still provide proper damping when the road gets rough??
     
  9. Unbeliever

    Unbeliever Member

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    19" on OEM rubber.

    Top down is irreproducible.
     
  10. GOVA

    GOVA Mr Gumble

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    Amen OP! Great color as well.
     
  11. gtmotor

    gtmotor Member

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    I'm trying really hard not to just buy those springs right now... I want to explore the car's limits on the stock setup for at least 1000 miles before changing anything. Understeer is definitely prevalent like everyone else has said but it's really predictable before it happens. I was used to "throwing" my BMW in the corners but the Model 3 seems to require more finesse much like a real sports car (e.g. S2000). I found out it'll plow like crazy if you're too aggressive with the steering input.
     
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  12. RenMan68

    RenMan68 Member

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    TMC community - I'm a little confused about the steering modes. I get that the resistance in the wheel changes but does it do anything else? For example does the turn ratio change? If it's just the resistance is that really a big deal?
     
  13. gtmotor

    gtmotor Member

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    Well I have > 6000 miles on the car now and it seems plusher than ever now. Understeer is prevalent while pushing it hard and the traction control is very nice but extremely intrusive. I don't think it's possible to turn a good lap time with the car as is simply due to how quickly the traction control intervenes to ruin the fun :). That being said... It's perfectly tuned for the street.

    I can't wait to try a Model 3P and report back.
     
  14. P85_DA

    P85_DA Supporting Member

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    What’s your opinion of lowering springs ? Make it worse ? Better ?
     
  15. gtmotor

    gtmotor Member

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    Almost always worse unless they are matched to a set of tuned dampers. At that point you may as well switch to a set of adjustable coilovers.

    I've decided to leave mine stock for what it's worth. I love how it rides in daily driving.
     
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  16. Warren-RB

    Warren-RB Closed

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    Any issue with the brake?
     

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