Here’s why modern cars feel so lifeless to drive – Ars Technica

Enlarge / The Porsche Taycan is one of the few new cars to exhibit anything we might recognize as steering feel. That wasn’t always the case.

Andrew Hedrick

In almost every regard, new cars are better than they’ve been at any time in their history. They’re safer than they used to be—though that is less true for women. Powertrains, particularly battery electric ones, are more powerful and more efficient, which helps to compensate for the extra weight of that added safety equipment. Vehicles are far more reliable, at least for their first 100,000 miles, and even cheap cars come with standard equipment that would seem like science fiction to drivers from just a few decades ago.

They ride better; they stop better—so everything’s great, right? The problem is that modern cars almost invariably feel a bit boring to drive. The issue is more acute the longer you’ve been driving, as you might expect, since the cause is technological progression—specifically, power steering.

What happened to steering feel?

For much of the car’s existence, steering was entirely unassisted. The driver turns the wheel connected to a steering column that, through links and pivots and usually a gear, turns the front wheels in either direction. That setup was marvelous for feedback, but it wasn’t great in terms of the effort required to turn the wheel, particularly at lower speeds.


Drivers of a certain age will tell you that unassisted steering is the purest way to drive—and therefore the best. I am sympathetic to this argument, up to a point.

Steering became more of an issue as cars got heavier and front tires got wider, so cars gained hydraulic power-assisted steering to compensate. Hydraulic pistons reduce the effort required to steer the front wheels, and there’s not much inertia, but the steering system still communicated forces back from the front wheels and through the steering to the driver’s hands.

The problem is that running a hydraulic system requires enough power to be noticeable in fuel efficiency. These days, we have compact and powerful electric motors that can assist in turning the front wheels. There are fewer moving parts, there are no hydraulic lines or fluid to worry about, and the systems are getting cheaper. Being electrically controlled means you can even accommodate features like lane-keeping assistance or autosteering.

The downside is that the motors are also pretty good at filtering out road forces from traveling back up from the front wheels to the steering wheel.


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NASCAR’s Symmetrical Next Gen Cars Are Getting Skewed In Practice – Jalopnik

NASCAR’s newest Next Gen cars may be designed to make these vehicles as symmetrical as possible, but some teams have already found a way around the rules. During this week’s test session at Daytona International Speedway, some cars have been running some fairly excessive skew — and right now, it could very well be totally legal.

Basically, skew refers to the angled nature of the NASCAR Cup Series car. The front end looks like it’s pointing in a different direction than the car is actually going, which gives the whole thing a sort of crab-walk look. The rear axle is mounted on a skew when compared to the whole chassis. For…….


Is Norway the future of cars? – Kathimerini English Edition

The speed by which electric vehicles have taken over Norway has stunned even the cars’ enthusiasts. [Asya Demidova/The New York Times]

Last year, Norway reached a milestone. Only about 8% of new cars sold in the country ran purely on conventional gasoline or diesel fuel. Two-thirds of new cars sold were electric, and most of the rest were electric-and-gasoline hybrids.

For years, Norway has been the world leader in shifting away from traditional cars, thanks to government benefits that made electric vehicles far more affordable and offered extras like letting electric car owners skip some fees for parking and toll roads.

Still, electric car enthusiasts are stunne…….