What’s the most important feature for a driver’s car?
The two Cs of connection and communication – from driver to car to road. Nothing beats that sense of being ‘at one’ with a car where the driver works at a subconscious level and the car flows down the road or balances at the limit. Every element of the car has to come together.
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What’s the best-handling car you’ve driven?
The car I’ve enjoyed the most is a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, for its communication and adjustability. It would annoy on some roads but be glorious on others. It shouldn’t have worked.
What’s the best-handling current production car you’ve driven?
Jaguar XE SV Project 8. A saloon shouldn’t be able to do what it does.
What car do you wish you had set up?
There are plenty of cars which have the right ingredients but have been badly set up…
Can a bad-handling car be fun?
There are some fun cars that you could describe as bad-handling, but the fun can be drawn from many areas. A car with way too much power for its capabilities, for instance.
If you had a maximum of £25,000 to spend, what car would you buy?
A Porsche Cayman S with enough spare budget to tweak it to exactly my taste for road and track.
What car maker do you respect, and why?
I’m a lifelong Porsche fan. I think this stems from an engineer’s instinct of doing it right: getting the fundamentals right and leaving compromise to an absolute minimum.
What do you think will be the next big thing in chassis development?
Cars are getting more complicated with clever drivelines and suspension systems. Making them all work together is key, so that cars feel more integrated. The two Cs, plus a third for comfort.
Has EPAS made good handling easier to achieve?
It hasn’t really made a difference, just changed the balance of what you can do. You can do so much with it across the speed range, but the flip side is less of the high-frequency granularity. For the vast majority of cars this is a better balance.
Driver modes – useful or unnecessary?
Modes are useful. The trick is not to have too many options.
Is the Nürburgring useful to car set-up?
Those who say it makes cars ride badly are talking nonsense. Nowhere do you experience every extreme for jumps, dips, corners and speeds in such a short space of time. You have to know they are not everyday occurrences, but once you’ve set them at the Ring you don’t need to do it anywhere else.
How do you make an all-electric car engaging for enthusiast drivers?
The challenge is just the same as for an internal-combustion car, it’s just the way it delivers the performance that’s different. Take the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy; you quickly forget it’s electric and start finding the best way to make it go fast. The power delivery is different – instant torque, no gears – but that adds to the interest. And the stopping power with race brakes and electric regen is mind-blowing.
In This Article
- 1Car handling explained: the past, present and future
- 2Matt Becker - Director, vehicle engineering, Aston Martin Lagonda
- 3Gavan Kershaw - Attributes director, Lotus
- 4Thierry Landreau - Engineering director, Renault Sport Cars and Alpine
- 5Michael Leiters - Chief technology officer, Ferrari
- 6David Pook - Founder VEDYNAMICS consultancy - currently reading
- 7Karsten Schebsdat - Manager, vehicle dynamics and control systems, Volkswagen
- 8Andrew Unsworth - Head of chassis dynamics, Bentley
- 9John Barker gives his closing remarks after 30 years as one of the world's most experienced journalists and engineering consultants