Ask the experts: what makes a great handling car? Karsten Schebsdat

Karsten Schebsdat - Manager, vehicle dynamics and control systems, Volkswagen

What’s the most important feature for a driver’s car? 

Well-composed high yaw gain in combination with perfect linearity.

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What’s the best-handling car you’ve driven? 

With respect to vehicle dynamics: 991 Gen 2 Porsche 911 GT3 RS. The most emotional for me to date has been the Carrera GT. It had the best engine and gearbox with respect to response, and fantastic sound. And it is incredible fun in the wet!

What’s the best-handling current production car you’ve driven? 

Porsche 911 GT3 RS.

What car do you wish you had set up?

Porsche Carrera GT.

Can a bad-handling car be fun? 

Yes, especially if it is rear-wheel driven and has power oversteer.

If you had a maximum of £25,000 to spend, what car would you buy? 

Mazda MX-5 roadster, current model. This is a well-designed, rear-wheel-driven car with low weight.

What car maker do you respect, and why? 

Alfa Romeo has celebrated an impressive rebirth in my mind. It has rediscovered its initial strengths. Emotional and typically recognisable design in combination with a high priority on performance.

What do you think will be the next big thing in chassis development?

Vehicle dynamics will be much more refined in the future by new vehicle dynamics architectures that optimise the interaction of the standard chassis and the increasingly important control systems. I am a big fan of steer-by-wire; a system that opens new dimensions in chassis tuning for piloted driving and will be the base for autonomous driving.

Has EPAS made good handling easier to achieve? 

EPAS has given us many more opportunities to tune vehicle dynamics behaviour in static and especially transient manoeuvres. EPAS tuning, based on an optimised layout of software and hardware, is currently the biggest lever to design a vehicle’s personality.

Driver modes – useful or unnecessary? 

Drive modes have to be restricted to only a few configurations that are tuned to a well-balanced composure.  If done in this way, drive modes are useful. The driver gets two or three different chassis set-ups within one car.

Is the Nürburgring useful to car set-up? 

The Ring is absolutely necessary to tune a performance-orientated car and deliver composure. No other road or track in the world gives the opportunity to so comprehensively cover the vehicle dynamics requirements of the car.

How do you make an all-electric car engaging for enthusiast drivers?

Electric cars mostly have a good base to implement a good dynamics personality: low centre of gravity, good roll control, nice balance front to rear. Throttle response is outstanding and, in combination with initial torque build-up, very emotional and involving. In addition, when you combine these ‘genes’ with an agile and predictable chassis set-up the car delivers great fun. I am looking forward to the launches of our first cars on the new MEB platform in the near future.

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