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      05-20-2013, 06:13 AM   #22
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Drives: BMW F11 535i Touring
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Scotland, Highland Region

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Originally Posted by F10N47 View Post
I agree with that; which is why it's so important to try as many suspension/tyre variations as possible before purchasing. My local roads are very poorly maintained so the ride is quite choppy around my home, but as I spend a lot of time travelling on smoother, well maintained roads the M Sport set-up works for me for most of the time. I do, however, wish I'd had a drive in a VDC equipped car before ordering. Unfortunately, this option seems to have a poor uptake so suitably equipped demonstrators/used cars are few and far between. IF VDC takes the edge off the impacts in comfort mode but can be sharpened up to provide the exact same control as the M Sport rates, then I can only imagine it to be well worth the money.
I waited several months to get in a demo F10 with Adaptive Drive. Had to come up from BMW stock, so dealer had to wait until available.

As I see it, the problem with VDC in the 5-series, it is a half-way house. It is not a sport suspension equivalent, due to softer spring rate, standard ARBs. The F30 3-series is different, the Adaptive M-sport suspension is based on the passive M-sport spring and ARB. So the VDC is giving a comfort and sport mode 'around' the original passive M-sport settings. It has a mixed user response, but many feel the sport setting is as good as, or even better than the passive M-sport suspension.

My personal view, if you want a similar but more refined suspension to passive M-sport in the 5-series, you need Adaptive Drive. ARS is the part that gives that sporty cornering ability, without needing firm springs. Just isolating VDC to straight line driving (where ARS is less involved), changing modes (the VDC setting) makes a noticeable difference to how bumps and hollows are absorbed. Obviously it is difficult to gauge how each part works in cornering, but certainly complement each other as cornering is flat and controlled, even in comfort mode. Something you never get with a softer passive setup. Both roll and damping are stiffened up.

Kevin Bird has developed suspension kits for the E9*-series cars where the spring rate is decreased, ARBs stiffened and damper curves more finely tuned. The result is a softer ride with better handling. I understand the initial feeling is a softish setup, but push on and it exceeds the abilities of any BMW OEM M-sport setup. (Sporty doesn't have to be hard and unforgiving, as Lotus has proven in many a setup). The negative as I see it will be single wheel bumps where stiff ARBs do add a conflict. But as spring rates are decreased, the effect will be less than having both being unyielding. This is where BMW have been able to widen the working envelope, with Adaptive Drive, softer springs but with the ability to virtually decouple the ARB function when possible (with ARS fitted) as part of the adaptive package.

But back to the original point of test driving the setups, we'd really need all the options lined up for a given model and back to back test, pick the setup we prefer.