Ask the experts: what makes a great handling car? Andrew Unsworth
Andrew Unsworth - Head of chassis dynamics, Bentley
What’s the most important feature for a driver’s car?
Predictability and consistency of response. When you’re exploring the handling limits of any car you need to have the confidence that it’s going to consistently do what you expect. Sometimes surprises are good, but not in this situation. You don’t want a car to suddenly change its behaviour just because you decided to go 2 or 3mph quicker round a bend.
What’s the best-handling car you’ve driven?
BMW E34 M5 for predictability, feedback and ease of enjoyment. Porsche 997 Turbo for amazing outright levels of grip and handling exhilaration at crazy speeds!
What’s the best-handling current production car you’ve driven?
Bentley Continental GT, of course!
What car do you wish you had set up?
Series 1 Lotus Elise.
Can a bad-handling car be fun?
No, not really. Although it depends on the definition of bad; if a car has too much lift-off oversteer, like most 1990s hot hatches, then this can be fun, as long as you know and are ready for it!
If you had a maximum of £25,000 to spend, what car would you buy?
A tidy Porsche Cayman S.
What car maker do you respect, and why?
Porsche. Its brand strength is hugely impressive and it develops cars that are true to its core brand values.
What do you think will be the next big thing in chassis development?
Active suspension systems with a level of artificial intelligence – automatically able to respond to changing conditions or customer feelings or mood.
Has EPAS made good handling easier to achieve?
Yes, it gives additional tuning flexibility between low and high vehicle speeds, allowing a responsive chassis tune that can be calmed at higher speeds by the steering feel. It also allows a responsive tune whilst alleviating the concerns about steering disturbances such as kick-back.
Driver modes – useful or unnecessary?
Very useful when coupled with active chassis systems. The vehicle’s character can be altered to give a true breadth of performance.
Is the Nürburgring useful to car set-up?
Yes, it’s useful once you have achieved a reasonable set-up to go there for over-checking body control, response to cambers and bumps in bends, and so on. I find it’s more useful for ESC development and validation once the handling work has been completed.
How do you make an all-electric car engaging for enthusiast drivers?
Electric cars with the correct concept layout are amazingly engaging from a handling point of view. This is only possible if the large masses are in the correct place to begin with. Four-corner torque vectoring via the motors would improve the overall driving experience in a major way too, but is costly and can add significant weight.
- 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
- 7Karsten Schebsdat - Manager, vehicle dynamics and control systems, Volkswagen
- 8Andrew Unsworth - Head of chassis dynamics, Bentley - currently reading
- 9John Barker gives his closing remarks after 30 years as one of the world's most experienced journalists and engineering consultants