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Old 03-05-2013, 08:00 PM   #1
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What does "good handling" feel like?

So I've been trying to improve my driving skills, and have started to feel what potentially good handling feels like.

I know, 2 very different cars, but both have sporting pretensions and it is what i have to compare the driving experience with.

I took both my 335i sedan w/ sport suspension and my Porsche Boxster to a winding course.

First, it was amazing just how much faster the 335i was in the straight sections, and the power was really effortless. This did cause a problem though, I think with the torque it picks up too much power during really curvy one-after-the-other type curves, that are fairly sharp and you do at 30-40mph. It is a little too much power at first and you really have to keep it under control or else you will overshoot the curve.

The 335i closer to the limit on a tighter curve felt a bit softer, with a bit more body roll.

Now, the Boxster was much more suited for this turn-after-turn sort of ordeal. It is slower and has less power, but you can really pin the throttle down and still do the curve fairly smoothly, whereas the BMW would easily overshoot it if you're not careful. Boxster also had much less body roll, and felt neutral with little movement, while the BMW (as is typical of a rwd car) let the back wiggly a bit more.

I know it's funny to say this, but I felt the 335i just has too much power to be really fun in a very tight winding road situation. It blasts in the straights, but is more of handful in the curves.

So what does good handling feel like you if were you quantify it in words? Does what I said make sense knowing these 2 different cars?

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Old 03-05-2013, 08:25 PM   #2
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Like you are on rails... I know, it's an old cliche' but it fits. Precise, planted, balanced, tossable all come to mind. I would say an F1 Mclaren has excellent handling properties.



FYI The BMW 335 is not my favorite car on a road course either.

As soon as it warms up, hit a few PCA Autocross events and get an instructor in your car. You will learn a ton.
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:27 PM   #3
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Oh, and to be fair - it was very cold, and the BMW did have Blizzak performance winter tires on. I know they are no where near as good as good summer tires in dry warm weather. I think the car would feel a bit better with summer tires.
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Old 03-06-2013, 06:56 AM   #4
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I know it's funny to say this, but I felt the 335i just has too much power for my current driving ability to be really fun in a very tight winding road situation. It blasts in the straights, but is more of handful in the curves.

Sorry Rondo, I had to fix that quote for you. I have a bit of stick time in the 335 sedan, it is quite quick, but I never found myself saying wow, this thing just has too much power. Most people who think they're driving at 9/10s of the cars limit are probably lucky to break 6/10s. This is for good reason, the kind of behavior required to explore the outer edges of a car's capability is not for most public roads...
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Old 03-06-2013, 07:10 AM   #5
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What does "good handling" feel like?

That is true, I felt more comfortable in the Boxster when pushing it. The 335 requires a different driving style and more finesse I think to drive naturally like he Boxster.
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Old 03-06-2013, 11:59 AM   #6
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Topless gave some very good qualitative criteria. I'll go the other direction and suggest a few quantitative measures:

In order to compare handling (and not horsepower), pay particular attention to corner entry and exit speed along with how well the car transitions from straight to turning and how early you can get back on the throttle on corner exit. A well handling car will do all of those better than a less-well handling car.

Of course, the driver makes a huge difference. A good driver can alter his technique to get the most out of whatever car they happen to be driving.

+1 for getting out on an autocross or track day with an instructor. You'll learn more in one day than you can imagine.
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Old 03-06-2013, 12:16 PM   #7
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My Boxster driving has been the product of a Porsche "Performance Driving School" and a few Auto-X.

My "before" driving skills left me feeling that the car was perhaps getting away from me a bit when I pushed it.

My "After" skills has me feeling like I'm in complete control at all times, even when the back end starts to break free as I am able to recapture traction instantly when that happens before a situation develops.

I attribute my skills 100% to the driving school and time spend with instructors at the Auto-X.

I frequently find other drivers following me as I accelerate into curves only to see them getting into trouble driving all over the shoulders, over correcting and getting completely out of whack before hitting their brakes hard to avoid solid objects.

I feel like I'm doing my part to help eliminate cell calling and texting in the curves

So the others are right, it feels like its on rails and you are in complete control at any speed. Thats good handling, a product of YOU and your CAR working together in harmony without stress.

Being smooth was something I recall being yelled in my ear during an AutoX. Yelled because of the Helmet, open windows and intense concentration that needs to be interupted to get a message in.
It worked wonders and decreased my lap times once I got the hang of it.
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Old 03-06-2013, 12:31 PM   #8
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I'd have to agree with the driving school, DE's and any learning experience to hone your skills and make you feel a part of the car. As a retired cop, I have had 30 years of driving schools, pursuit driving, defensive driving, performance driving, etc. Coupling that with PCA DE"s, track events, and all the driving experiences they offer and I find that it really doesn't matter if I get in the carrera 4, the 04 boxster S or the 08 boxster S it just seems to do what you want it to. Our cars really will do much more than most of us will ever get out of them. Get all the hands on education you can and drive them.
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Old 03-06-2013, 05:33 PM   #9
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I agree, a driving school and going to a proper track is really the best way to get better. You can't really safely do that stuff in the real world, so its best to do it in a controlled environment.

Oddly, I really find the power delivery of the base Boxster perfect for the real world. You can really push it to its limits and have fun while still staying relatively within the bounds.
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:42 AM   #10
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So what does good handling feel like you if were you quantify it in words? Does what I said make sense knowing these 2 different cars?
I may be able to irresponsibly quantify good handling with the statement "Seeing the 335 halo lamps recede in my rearview mirror after every sharp turn - that's what good handling feels like to me" :-)

But on a more serious note, and limited to just a few open wheel and autocross Skip Barber days at Laguna Seca, the good cars inspire confidence through precision and predictability. I have driven very few cars that give me more of this than the base 986 (lotus Elise at the top) but I thoroughly enjoy the visceral hands on driving experience.
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Old 03-07-2013, 11:10 AM   #11
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What does "good handling" feel like?

I've always felt that a good handling car is predictable at the limit. I've driven many cars that felt good for 80% percent of the time, but would try to kill you during the last 20%. Of course the faster the car, the higher that limit needs to be .
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Old 03-07-2013, 12:33 PM   #12
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I own a Boxster and a 335i too -- and with some basic chip-tuning on the 335i (like I have) it's a really fast car. I find that putting that power to use is the biggest test when driving it; it's too much without a limited slip differential if you ask me.
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Old 03-07-2013, 12:49 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by rondocap View Post
So I've been trying to improve my driving skills, and have started to feel what potentially good handling feels like.

I know, 2 very different cars, but both have sporting pretensions and it is what i have to compare the driving experience with.

I took both my 335i sedan w/ sport suspension and my Porsche Boxster to a winding course.

First, it was amazing just how much faster the 335i was in the straight sections, and the power was really effortless. This did cause a problem though, I think with the torque it picks up too much power during really curvy one-after-the-other type curves, that are fairly sharp and you do at 30-40mph. It is a little too much power at first and you really have to keep it under control or else you will overshoot the curve.

The 335i closer to the limit on a tighter curve felt a bit softer, with a bit more body roll.

Now, the Boxster was much more suited for this turn-after-turn sort of ordeal. It is slower and has less power, but you can really pin the throttle down and still do the curve fairly smoothly, whereas the BMW would easily overshoot it if you're not careful. Boxster also had much less body roll, and felt neutral with little movement, while the BMW (as is typical of a rwd car) let the back wiggly a bit more.

I know it's funny to say this, but I felt the 335i just has too much power to be really fun in a very tight winding road situation. It blasts in the straights, but is more of handful in the curves.

So what does good handling feel like you if were you quantify it in words? Does what I said make sense knowing these 2 different cars?
The bolded parts are the definition of good handling. I think you answered your own question; handling is in the curves, horsepower is in the straights.
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Old 03-07-2013, 02:14 PM   #14
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The bolded parts are the definition of good handling. I think you answered your own question; handling is in the curves, horsepower is in the straights.
And the ablity to put on lipstick while embarrasing the hubby right?
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Old 03-12-2013, 05:44 AM   #15
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And the ablity to put on lipstick while embarrasing the hubby right?
Actually, he wins every damn time. But I'm very relaxed while losing.
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Old 03-12-2013, 02:41 PM   #16
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For me it's less about being "on rails" and more about balance, feedback and consistency and predictability of response.

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