TTAC commentator Seminole95 writes:
The Wall Street Journal recently suggested that part of VW’s problem in the US is the slow growth in Passat sales. About the Passat sales, they attribute it to a cheapening of the components relative to the European Passat, stating: “The American model also got a simpler, lower-cost suspension that delivered a less precise ride.”
My question is: how does one tell a priori that they are buying a car with a cheap suspension? Many mainstream media car reviews do not discuss the objective quality and construction of suspension components, preferring to discuss subjective feelings of ride. In addition, a car’s ride may “feel” good now, but this does not mean that it will in 5 years.
As an aside, one of the reasons I am interested is, I am thinking about buying the new Honda Accord and trading in my old one. But the new Accords have the MacPherson struts whereas the old ones had a double wishbone setup.
Thank you, TTAC, and your readers for intelligent car discussion.
Ya know, autojournalism is a tough gig: explain why you feel a certain way and you bore people with engineering jargon. Well, that’s provided you actually have to chops to explain why a certain design/component behaves a certain way in the first place! But I digress…let’s begin with some salient points:
- Some suspension designs are better than others, depending on application. Sports cars shouldn’t have leaf springs (please accept my apology, Morgan) but I seriously doubt I’d ever want a truck without them (sorry RAM).
- The quality of suspension components makes all the difference in the world. To wit, upgrading shocks (Konis, Bilsteins, etc.) on a seemingly terrible suspension can, by magic, make it the best in its class.
- Mainstream Auto Journalism or no, opinions on this subject are mostly subjective…if not entirely subjective!
Shall you feel a big difference between a new Honda Accord and the older models with double wishbones? Possibly, but that could be attributed to a host of suspension and chassis changes, not the original design. Don’t believe me? Just look at what BMW’s done in terms of suspension feel utilizing this same McPherson strut template.
Now about the Passat: the 2014 model (at least) has a fully independent suspension on all trim levels. Even the base model Jetta, according to the website, regained complete independence from solid axles. But let’s say you like the Toyota Corolla or Ford Mustang: is your ass critically fine tuned enough and do you even care on those rare occasions when a modern solid axle vehicle feels juuuust a little wonky on a curvy+bumpy road?
We all aren’t a Jack Baruth on track…and hell, even Jack Baruth drives a Lincoln Town Car with a watt’s link solid axle on the street, son!
So this is much ado about nothing! My bigger concern is the quality/configuration/durability of the suspension components, not their basic design. Sloppy tuned shocks, poorly sized sway bars, defective ball joints, etc. are a bigger concern. And none of that can be addressed at the time of purchase, sadly.
Send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.