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Why has Tesla dumbed down the suspension tuning on a $100K sports sedan?

Discussion in 'Model S: Driving Dynamics' started by calisnow, Jan 25, 2016.

  1. calisnow

    calisnow Active Member

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    #1 calisnow, Jan 25, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2016
    I'm sitting here, annoyed that I can't pay $6,500 to order a 2016 Model S with the suspension and staggered wheel options out of the P85+ or at least the firmer dampers of the early P85D.

    Yet I could plonk down $10K to shave off a couple more tenths from a 0-60 time off a P85D which already offers world beating acceleration times.

    What would be really nice would to be able to put the "+" suspension on a rear wheel drive 70 - giving you the lightest Tesla combined with the best suspension and most pure steering feel. No, not the fastest in a straight line but it would be the most pleasure to throw into a curve in the model line.

    Tesla's current approach isn't a pursuit of balanced performance - cynically selling "Ludicrous mode" while simultaneously killing off the sport suspension options is an approach in line with the worst offenses of Mercedes' AMG division.

    It smacks of Lamborghini's "Look at Me!" doors vs. Ferrari's heavenly handling. Oh wait. . .

    I should know - I got suckered into buying an E55 AMG years ago after being floored by its acceleration on a test drive - momentarily forgetting everything years of BMW club driving schools had taught me about how handling and steering feel trumps everything else in terms of long term driving pleasure. I regretted the AMG purchase within a year and very much wished I'd never left the sublime handling of BMW's of the time.

    Elon, being the perfectionist he is, can't feel good about dumbing down the suspension on a beautiful handling chassis. So why did he choose to do it? Did some bean counter or marketing dunce decide that Ludicrous sells cars, but highly tuned suspensions do not?


    Imagine BMW degrading the legendary E39 chassis by telling customers they couldn't have the sport suspension (let alone the full M5 suspension) - but instead to make them happy there was a new turbo kit so they could race the local teens in the alley on Saturday night.

    BMW wouldn't have done that (of course, the new BMW builds a lot of heavy garbage that the old one didn't, but that's another story).

    So why did Elon? He and his engineers knew how to build the best handling Model S - they did it right out of the gate when the chassis was new.

    I believe he is even on record recommending the staggered wheel setup he no longer sells. I guess you could argue there is no need for staggered wheels on an AWD car - but the initial P85D's had staggered 21's for some reason.


    They offer all kinds of other options and build these cars to order - how hard can it be to stock a couple different dampers, bushings and stabilizer bars? The man in charge of the shop is landing rockets in the middle of the ocean.

    The unicorns with Autopilot do show up on ev-cpo (there's one now for $82K) but I'd like a brand new one, not one 2 years old.
     
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  2. spentan

    spentan Active Member

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    My P85D is for sale if you want one with the early suspension :p
     
  3. Mike K

    Mike K Member

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    How much better is the + suspension than the standard? I have a P85+ loaner right now and other than riding notably rougher than my standard air suspension, I can't say I notice any marked improvement in handling and I live off of Mulholland so it's not like I don't have anywhere to push it. To me this suspension makes the car worse. It has all the downsides of a performance suspension and none of the upsides. At it's limit it's flatter than my car though marginally. I'm not saying I don't agree with you. I'm just not sure the + suspension is the answer. I find it underwhelming.

    What I would love to see is something like BMW's active sway bars on the Model S. Since you're a past BMW guy I'm probably preaching to the choir but for those not familiar, the active sway bars had a hydraulic coupler in the center of them. Under normal driving the coupler would disconnect the bars for ride comfort however under aggressive handling, the bars would stiffen and actually apply resistance to the side of the car that was leaning into the turn. What you ended up with was a car that had all the benefits of a car with large sway bars and none the side affects (rough ride). It truly is the best of both worlds.
     
  4. calisnow

    calisnow Active Member

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    Interesting observations - you are right that on imperfect roads (which L.A. is full of) a really firm suspension can be worse rather than better if it isn't compliant enough to soak up the irregularities in the road - and be a pain.

    Yes! I remember the active sway bars! The E39 didn't have them but I had a 2005 545i that did have them - and you're right, they were great. Very compliant, yet kept the car from leaning much in the turns. As far as I recall though the really serious performance model in their line - the M5 - did not use the active sway bars nor the active steering. I read some interview with an M division engineer at the time who sneered about how they didn't need such tricks in the M division.

    But for a daily driver they would be a great option in the Model S, I agree.
     
  5. David_Cary

    David_Cary Member

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    I had an 2005 545i. The Model S is just as flat and just as compliant. Now the active steering was a great parlor trick and I do miss that.

    I think the engineers/bean counters upgraded the standard suspension enough that the + didn't offer meaningful advantage. It isn't like a new D handles the same as an original S or P. There is far more difference IMO between a D and S than a P85 and a P85+. Rough ride does not equal handling either.

    The fact is with a incredibly low COG and a reasonably taught suspension, you do really well. It isn't really fair to look at an AMG and claim Tesla is doing that. Again - don't equate ride quality with handling.

    At some point, 5000 pound sedan is not a sports car.
     
  6. calisnow

    calisnow Active Member

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    Oh, that's a different take - the suspension on the base cars has been upgraded over the years? Ok fine - the AMG comparison was a bit too far. I liked the active steering on my 545i also - I know the purists hated it and some journalists claimed it made it hard to predict what the wheel would do, but I thought it worked great and made navigating parking lots a breeze.
     
  7. politeperson

    politeperson Member

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    Is this thread serious?

    If you want a good handling car, buy a Lotus Elise or maybe an MX5 Miata.

    Expecting a 4,600 lbs sedan to "handle" a bit better by putting staggered wheels on it and a few different suspension settings is one of the funniest things I have heard in a long time.

    The phrase "putting lipstick on a pig" springs to mind, but that is a bit cruel to Tesla. My Model S handles very well and irons out the bumps.
     
  8. tstafford

    tstafford Member

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    I get where the OP is coming from but I also agree with ^^^^ in that there is never going to be a way to make the MS feel nimble given it's weight. I'm on record as saying that my only non-nitpick complaint about the car is the handling. Whatever it lacks in handling is made up for 10x in all other long-term ownership advantages. Small price to pay. If you can afford an MS and really need something fun on the side get a Miata or a Cayman.
     
  9. Dennis87

    Dennis87 Member

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    #9 Dennis87, Jan 25, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2016
    When the car is so heavy a good suspension is even more important. The older rwd Model S before the P85+ was almost like driving a boat on steering feel. The rear end was really "nervous" on acceleration and driving fast in corners.

    Off course the model S will never handle like a real sport car like a small Lotus. But the P85+ and P85D is not far from the BMW i8 in Motortrend testing on figure eight and lateral acceleration and that is not bad ;)

    2014 Tesla Model S P85+ vs. 2014 BMW i8 Comparison - Motor Trend

    And also did good compared to the Audi RS7
    Tesla Model S P85D vs Audi RS7 vs Alpina XD3 track battle - YouTube

    So yes suspension is very! important on a heavy powerfull car. I want to be able to drive the car fast in corners and also want to be able to have good handling in a emergency.
     
  10. GSP

    GSP Member

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    The base car suspension has been improved, and if that is not enough there is always aftermarket suspension mods. Lolachampcar here on this forum has done extensive mods to his first P85. However the base suspension is good enough now that I don't think he has done any mods to his latest P85D, except for a sweet-looking set of ultra light 20" wheels.

    GSP
     
  11. Skateboardgolf

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    Love those P85+ unicorns! Mine is an albino, with one blue and one green eye - a 2015, VIN 69xxx. Alcantera dash, Gen 1.5 seats, heated steering wheel, among other extras.

    calisnow, I agree with you. I've driven an 85D, and it felt like a boat compared to my P85+. The one I drove even had coils, which supposedly makes it less floaty. All I can say is driving mine hard through the corners put a huge grin on my face, which the 85D did not. It titled side to side too much, the steering felt more vague on-center, and it squirmed a bit after a hard lane change.

    Yes, my tires break loose if I floor it, and it's terrible in the snow, but other than that, I'm overjoyed with what I found.
    Bring back the P85+ suspension! Or, wait, better yet, don't, and let our models appreciate!!
     
  12. Dennis87

    Dennis87 Member

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    #12 Dennis87, Jan 25, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2016
    The coil suspension is more floaty on 85D than with air. Also the air suspension parts is now the same as on the P90D. If coil was better then Tesla would have sendt cars with coil suspension to motortrend testing to get the best performance testing numbers in the eight figure ++ ;)

    The best suspension is P85D with air build before 30 april in my opinion (Not if you like soft suspension) After april 30 the P85D and now also P90D got the same as 70D and 85D. The dual motors Model S with air have many suspension improvements over the older ones and cant be compared to the floaty air suspension on the older rwd without +.

    suspension P85D P90D.PNG
     
  13. sataponw

    sataponw Member

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    Please take my P85D pre.April 2015 suspension... It's so abusive to me especially since my city is a construction zone. It's the only thing I don't like about my car.
     
  14. AMPd

    AMPd Active Member

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    I completely agree with you op, tesla should have never removed the + option! Not only does it improve the handling (based on my limited, 1 day p85+ loaner experience) but it could also have been a great money maker for them!
     
  15. thegruf

    thegruf Member

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    I think the question was "Why?"

    I can suggest three reasons:


    • Tesla are desperately trying to limit the number of options as this creates massive complexity in manufacturing and adds vulnerability to component shortages = keep a lid on costs


    • The "standard" suspension is now refined to be as good if not better than the previous sport suspension (okay limited experience on my part but the 85D as delivered sure drives and handles better than the "sport suspension" equipped demo I drove.


    • With apologies to the OP - but I suspect you are much in the minority of (potential) owners, so Tesla simply has to focus on where the business is. And to be honest 2.8sec 0-60 (with appropriate rollout caveats) is always going to be more of a headline grabber (Elon is quite good at marketing) than 0.2s off a figure 8 test.

    ... and as others have said it is a 2+ ton sedan, that with the exceptionally low COG actually handles remarkably well for what it is, go grab a lotus/Ariel Atom/911 for some trackday fun.
     
  16. Caligula

    Caligula Member

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    This sounds like you're comparing max performance summer tires to all seasons. Can you elaborate on the rubber please?
     
  17. jcaspar

    jcaspar Member

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    Given the number of people who complain about he coils being too tight and feeling every bump in the road, the Model S is not targeted at those who want a real road handling sports car. In your case, you probably should have gotten the coils. If you want a real road hugging sports car, get the Dodge Viper TA 2.0. Nothing can touch it on a race track, though I suspect it is too much for most people.
     
  18. trils0n

    trils0n 2013 P85

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    #18 trils0n, Jan 25, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2016
    My experience says the current suspension tune works very well. My early P85 has more body role and floaty feeling than a P85+. P85+ is much improved in handling, compared to my early car. However, ride is slightly rougher, particularly how it snaps my head around when one wheel encounters an imperfection of the road (stiffer sway bars). Newer RWD cars handle very much like the P85+, but without the extra stiff sway bars -- better handling than the original RWD setup (including less body roll), without the comfort penalty of the P85+. The suspension has undergone lots of changes (dampers and bushings particularly, according to service center parts guy), and I can see why they got rid of the Plus, as the current RWD handles very similarly, with much improved comfort.
     
  19. Niclas

    Niclas Member

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    I have the P85+ and I too agree with OP.
    I have test driven the 85D, P85D and P90D and they all felt like boats compared to the P85+. And the steering feel is WAY better too on the +.
    So, yes the PD have ceazy acceleration but the every-day drive is superior on the old P85+
    So the new improved suspension is not to my liking, but the typical american driver likes a soft ride.
     
  20. Dennis87

    Dennis87 Member

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    #20 Dennis87, Jan 25, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2016
    Strange the dual motor have a faster time than the P85+ in Motortrend testing for figure eight and lateral acceleration then :p

    I can not feel much different on the P85D and P85+ on suspension stiffness. Also I like 4wd more since its faster with todays advanced 4wd systems and have better steering feel for me that used to 4wd cars. If you drive rwd cars you may like that feeling better. But the 3 fastest normal productions cars on Nurburgring are all 4wd so that steering feel cant be bad so the 4wd is not to blame ;)
     

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