Car steering has made absolutely incredible advances in accuracy and ease over the past few years, but that often has come with sacrifices in one other area.
This little video explains what’s really wrong, and why it matters.
The video is one from MotorTrend, with their new presenter Jason Cammisa. He takes out MT’s “Driver’s car of the Year” from last year, the Camaro Z/28, and he rightfully praises the car for being unbelievably controlled, composed, and exciting. That’s what we found out about it last year when we drove it.
But Cammisa quickly explains the trouble with its steering, and it’s worthwhile because this problem is far from limited to the Camaro Z/28. This starts at a bit after 15 minutes into the video above.
Also, you know what the other thing is, this steering, even though it’s really precise? No feedback. None.
I can just keep turning it in, and turning it in, and look. Nothing.
As I turn past that point of understeer, there’s no increase or decrease in effort. It’s almost like the steering system doesn’t know the front tires are sliding.
Cammisa then wonders if he is being picky.
To be quite honest, in most situations, it is picky. When the level of grip from the road is consistent, and the front tires remain below their limit of adhesion, you don’t really need the steering to be bristling with feedback.
But when you’re on a road with changing pavement or patches of water, or if you’re dealing with a situation where you’re asking too much from the front tires even on a consistent surface, you really do want your steering to give you some information about that. This is what people mean when they talk about “communicative” steering and steering with feedback.
This is a problem that we’re finding in new electric power steering systems. That makes sense; they’re new. This one in the Camaro Z/28, dealing with absolutely monstrous 305 section front tires with huge forces at play, is one such early system. I can understand why it’s not bristling with feedback like an recent hydraulic steering rack, an older manual rack, or even a newer-generation electric steering system.
But if you hear someone complain about modern steering, or needlessly and pointlessly praise a modern car’s steering precision, think of this video and understand what that really means.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.