Y Series' Non-Compromise Ride/Handling

Published: 09 October 2002

Pictured: HSV.

Along with improvements to HSV’s renowned handling characteristics, Y Series introduces a new HSV hallmark in the form of a sophisticated Euro-like ride quality.

Chassis dynamics are always an HSV focus but they came in for particular attention for Y Series, says Chris Payne, HSV General Manager.

"We deliberately set out to achieve a more compliant ride quality without losing the edge in handling and I believe we’ve achieved that. I am certain that many people think HSV’s must ride harshly and that is far from the truth."

The cause was assisted early in the program when Holden adopted a revised power-steering gear calibration across the board, resulting in improved on-centre steering feel and a more linear response to driver inputs.

By incorporating a new ’digressive’ shock absorber action HSV engineers have further capitalised on the steering improvements to not only create a sharper turn-in response to corners but also to deliver a noticeably superior ride quality.

In basic terms, conventional ’progressive’ shock absorbers are compliant at slow piston movements and gets progressively firmer as piston speed increases which often leads to impact harshness on large or sharp bumps.

In contrast, ’digressive’ rate shock absorbers react firmly at slow piston movements - such as when turning into a corner or on gentle road surfaces - and become more compliant as piston speed increases, allowing them to absorbs large, sharp bumps with significantly reduced impact harshness.

As a member of HSV’s Product Development Group, Holden Racing Team’s Mark Skaife had a hand in the tuning.

"With the digressive shock absorber characteristics there tends to be less roll/pitch feel when you head into a corner and it makes the inside wheel do more work which gives a sharper turn-in feel."

Two distinctive states of suspension tune were developed to suit the individual characters and target markets of each HSV model. Touring 3 is standard on ClubSport and ClubSport R8 and offers a more sporting bias, with sharper turn-in and a more controlled, precise ride quality that’s particularly noticeable in low speed driving.

Befitting their status as performance Grand Touring sedans, the Senator and Senator Signature receive the slightly more ride oriented Luxury 3 suspension tune.

Phil Harding, HSV Director of Engineering (and a chassis engineer himself), was particularly impressed.

"When I first drove the Senator with Luxury 3 I thought it was fantastic. It reminded me more of a BMW 5 Series than anything I’d driven before in terms of ride quality."

Mark Skaife agrees. "There’s a ride quality improvement across the board but Senator is where it’s most noticeable."

Skaife particularly enjoys the Senator Signature’s ride and handling package which now includes standard 19-inch wheels.

"The 19-inch Pirelli tyre is a Euro-sophisticated style which is quite compliant so it soaks up small road irregularities and when you put that with the plush, refined ride of Senator it’s the best we’ve ever had."

HSV’s king of sports utilities, the Maloo, also comes in for some minor revisions. It shares Touring 3 front suspension and supplements it with a unique rear shock absorber tune which has improved high-speed handling. Although already dedicated to ultimate handling the GTS sedan’s Performance Suspension receives detailed improvements which have increased rear traction over rough and undulating surfaces.

The smoother power delivery of Y Series engines has had a positive effect on handling, too, says Skaife.

"Now, small change to the throttle in the middle of a corner definitely makes a difference. With sharper turn in, digressive shock absorbers and engine driveability it certainly makes for more precise driving."

HSVs are well known for their prodigious handling talents yet Y Series models are sure to receive just as many plaudits for their controlled and sophisticated ride quality. Now, whether you prefer sports or Grand Touring style, you’re guaranteed a premium HSV ride/handling package ’to drive for’.

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