ROADS are rough in the UK. We know that, and so does BMW’s Heinz Krusche.
Indeed, it is a characteristic that is almost unique in the world. ‘You sometimes find similar surfaces in France – but rarely.’
Our roads are also distinctively narrow, which means drivers have to concentrate far more here. ‘Cars must therefore have good steering feedback, because drivers need fine control.’
This is why steering feel is so vital in the UK! This is why we obsess about it: we go OTT, sure, but there’s method in our madness!
What about other countries, though? Krusche uses two examples by way of comparison:
Germany – speeds are higher, and there are more large-radius bends. Roads are not so narrow either, so lateral acceleration levels can be much higher. We have lots of cobbled roads, which are a special case as they can give a terrible ride. Here, you have to deal with certain frequencies to avoid trouble. At high speeds, stability is, of course, paramount, and a big priority.
LA – high camber and high temperatures (leading to warm, sticky tyres) mean it is very difficult to set up here! It is hard for yaw sensor calculations, for example – it is not a natural thing and has led to new models in our logic systems. If we use our normal models, it thinks things are wrong! These extreme parameters are unbelievably interesting for us, and prove the importance of testing all over the world.
The firm is learning all the time though, he adds: LA was a particular surprise. But the good news is that Krusche is willing to travel in order to find out.
Even better, he’s often over here in the UK, trying out new developments on our oft-embarrassing surfaces. Could the huge improvements in runflat ride quality over recent years partly be down to this?
If so, Mr. K, I can recommend some great hotels over here…