It’s been said that the best handling cars are built within 500 miles of the Alps. This is a bit of a stretch, perhaps, but there are certainly solid reasons why many of the world’s leading vehicle Manufacturers develop their performance vehicles on Germany’s Nürburgring North Loop (aka the “Green Hell”), and in the hills and back country roads of Europe. The ‘Ring is perhaps singularly unique in its length, type and number of corners, as well as elevation changes. Certainly it can be argued that the roads, culture, racing experience, and engineering skills of Europe are put to solid use by the various top-brand Tuning firms, and the ‘Ring, the Autobahn, and various mountain swithcbacks are all big parts of this legend.
As with ECU tuning, modifying a vehicle’s suspension can be a recipe for making things worse in a hurry, especially when viewed against the backdrop of a few thousand very highly qualified engineers having done their level best before you. Our goal is not to change a sport sedan into a sport car, or to make a sports car into a racing machine, but to carefully ‘tune’ each vehicle to dial out some of the added tolerance left on the table by each Manufacturer.
Even many sport cars destined for the U.S. market are fitted with less aggressive, typically more comfortable suspensions when compared to their European counterparts. The reason for doing so is to accommodate U.S. tastes and road quality. Understeer is designed into most vehicles, even at (and sometimes especially at) the higher-end of the performance spectrum. Careful changes and improvements can be made which will lower a vehicle’s center of gravity a bit, make its handling a bit more precise, make feedback to the driver a bit more direct, and ultimately sharpen the car’s dynamic performance.
As with many of our recommendations, when discussing suspension we first move to TÜV-approved components that meet or exceed OEM specifications for strength, reliability, and performance. We focus primarily on the German Tuning firms for BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Ferrari, and other European vehicle brands, due to the amount of testing and experience that goes into those packages. There are many smaller suspension firms that profess to have solved the suspension equivalent of “cold fusion” every now and again, but we stick with proven technologies, proven suppliers, and vetted, highly-engineered, well-crafted components for the underside of your vehicle. Beyond this, we test these components on U.S. roads, and in normal driving conditions, not just the track, making sure that the choices we offer are appropriate for the driving our customers experience most often.
In the case of our larger projects, we also undertake suspension modifications to help improve active safety and vehicle comfort. A sub-specialty at AI is personalizing vans and large GM, Ford, and other model SUV conversions. On these vehicles, we feature a series of different components, many developed by Ai directly, which allow for more confident performance, a more comfortable ride, and a more pleasant ownership experience.