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pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) PowerDork
1/21/21 9:15 p.m.

My Suzuki SX4 is probably the best power assisted steering that I've experienced for any length of time.  Not a lot of feedback but enough and the ratio is nice.  Curious what the other SX4 folks here think.

Mike (Forum Supporter)
Mike (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
1/21/21 9:27 p.m.

Steering feel was my prevailing impression of every 914 I've driven, and was the primary motivator for me wanting one. 

I've driven a 991 GT3, but there was so much going on. My main impression of the car was the PDK.
 

I owned a Fiero, and I didn't find it to be in the same ballpark as the 914, but mine wasn't in the best of health.

Worst is probably a late civvy Crown Vic. It's obsequious. Like, if you want the wheel here, that's your business. If you want it there, it's your decision. It's not any business of the car to push back against you. It was tiring to drive because there was no feedback besides drifting across the lane. I'm calling it worst, even against things like U-Haul rental trucks I've driven.

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
1/22/21 7:36 a.m.

Some good steering feel cars I've driven, more or less in order, but some of these were driven WAY far apart so I'm not able to do great comparisons.

  • C4 Corvette, with the Z51 steering rack.
  • E36 BMW.
  • 2000 Ford Focus.
  • 1995 Honda Civic.
  • Triumph Spitfire. (Only non-power assisted thing to make this list.)

And some worsts:

  • Beat up Ford van where the wheel would seesaw back and forth on its own, stopped at a stoplight. This one sets a high bar for both worst steering and worst handling vehicle I've ever driven. Everything else is much better.
  • Stock 1966 Dodge Dart power steering. Felt more like a joystick than a steering wheel. Currently swapped to manual steering that is OK once the car gets up to speed but a bear to deal with in parking lots.
  • Dishonorable mention to a 2005 Toyota Camry that felt as if it were attempting to make a modern rack and pinion steering emulate my 1966 Dart.
Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
1/22/21 8:07 a.m.
Javelin (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to Uncle David (Forum Supporter) :

Aren't E30's an old school steering box like a 70's truck? I've only driven one and don't remember the steering being anything good. The SA/FB RX-7 is a steering box with idler arm and inner and outer tire rods and it wasn't that great at steering either.

SA and FB had different steering boxes.  The FB unit is more prone to going sloppy and is a slower ratio.

What usually happens is, the wheel bearings get loose (need to adjust on a regular basis, they are sorely undersized) or the track control arm bushings get sloppy, and the car starts wandering.  So the owner thinks it is a steering box problem, and crank down on the Pitman mesh adjuster nut, which trashes the gears and the bushings in the unit, ruining it.

 

An SA box that has not been screwed with, with properly maintained suspension, feels wonderful.  Just the right amount of weight without being dull, and lots of feedback without your hands getting killed by every crack in the road.

chaparral
chaparral Dork
1/22/21 8:36 a.m.

Best unassisted: CRX or Morris Minor

Best power-assisted: RX-8

The Minor has light effort because its front tires are narrow and it's light. You get a big wheel, and the whole suspension's steel without any rubber bushings, so it gives very accurate feedback from the front tires.

The CRX's steering is just the best way I've found to guide a fast car. Its load varies so much with tire loads and slip angles that you can immediately tell whether it can accept more power or not.

The RX-8 made me excited about electric power steering - it felt manual as soon as you got over 15 mph. Unfortunately every other implementation since then has been a letdown. 

RX8driver
RX8driver Reader
1/22/21 8:52 a.m.

My de-powered, welded input shaft FC had really good feel, but whenever I went from that to my dad's NA Miata, it always seemed was WAY over boosted, which makes it hard to detect the subtle variations, so I never considered it to have particularly good feel.

RX8's have great feel and are proof that electric power steering can be done properly. My 2015 WRX's steering feel was greatly improved with an STI lower steering shaft swapped in (solid, vs the rubber donut in the stock WRX shaft).

Gearheadotaku (Forum Supporter)
Gearheadotaku (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
1/22/21 11:20 a.m.

I've not driven enough manual steering cars to make a proper list, so here's what I have:

1988 Fiero the 225/50/15 tires I used did make it heavy at low speeds but upped the grip alot over the standard 205's.

1985 Fiero. Added a newer steering stabilizer and it helped a lot. Less kickback and smoother action. Most people don't change them thinking it will make it stiffer.

1gen S-10 pickup. Slow but felt good.

 

Power steering:

Gen 3 f-body with fast ratio box.

My 88 C4 Vette felt ok too.

 

I believe a lot of steering feel etc is simply becoming acustom to that car. I racked up some many years driving gen 1 S-10's that I became comfortable throwing them around in ways I wouldn't do with a "better' car because I knew exactly what and where the limits were.

spandak
spandak HalfDork
1/22/21 11:42 a.m.

The Boxster is pretty good. I havent driven many cars, but I have found that the ones I like the steering on are the cars where I dont notice it. The Boxster, and the E36 before it had intuitive steering. I didnt have to try and notice what the car is doing, it just did it and raised its hand when something was overworked. Easy. In contrast, the EPS systems on non-performance cars just kinda do whatever and dont really care whats happening at the contact patch. The Subaru has a wicked fast rack but the only way to sense slide is to feel it in the seat or hear it. 

My old Mazdaspeed3 was a weird one. I found the feel to be pretty good when off boost or in steadyish state. On a flowing canyon road it was good enough to confidently attack the road. But lane changes under boost were another story. It would snap over into the next lane quicker than your initial steering request. Very interesting, if thats your thing. 

The worst is 90s Ford stuff. Wow. Twin Ibeam F250s would see-saw if you snapped the wheel and let it oscillate. Vans too. Weirdly, it was worst at street speeds. On the freeway it was....not dangerous. Thats about the best thing I can call it.

Forgot about the FSAE car. Better than a kart. I still day dream about flogging that thing around our test track at 10/10s lap after lap. We had a legacy car with an R6 motor that was even better. Im not sure anything will beat that experience. Perfectly light, perfect power, linear and predictable everything. 

Spridget. First car I ever drove. Still the gold standard (in my experience).

fatallightning
fatallightning Reader
1/22/21 12:16 p.m.

I definitely feel a bit spoiled. Owned an Elise. I think a little more caster would have made the feedback rise a bit more with grip, only complaint. Have a non -PS equipped SW20 MR2, that's been pretty delectable. I have a Birkin S3 Seven right now, and thats as sweet as I've ever had in terms of road feel through the wheel.

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
1/22/21 12:19 p.m.

I feel confused when people talk about steering feel. 

I believe response and steering weight are sometimes confused for feel.

I would like to propose this definition of steering feel: 

"On one level, it’s precisely as it’s described: how does the steering actually feel. On a less literal but more important level, steering feel is a car’s ability to communicate both accurately and clearly through the steering apparatus information about how the road and its conditions are being managed as the car flows over its surface.

To complicate matters a little, a distinction needs to be drawn between desirable feel or feedback and unwanted kickback."

The above definition, from a quick google search seems clearest to me. https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/features/no-bum-steer-importance-steering-feel

I sometimes drive newer cars that I enjoy the weight and accuracy of the steering, but I find the feedback to be lacking. The 2015 Mazda 3 my dad owns feels great, the perfect weight and accuracy, but the feedback as to what the front tires are doing is not as precise as my NA Miata or my no power-steering Festiva. What's weird, is I like the "feeling" of the wheel moving more in the Mazda 3, but I like the feedback of the Festiva. I like to think of feel and feedback to be the same thing more or less. When I think of feel, sometimes I think steering weight or accuracy instead of feedback.

Anyway, I may be the only one who experiences confusion, so carry on.

m4ff3w
m4ff3w UberDork
1/22/21 12:26 p.m.

Fiat X1/9

fatallightning
fatallightning Reader
1/22/21 12:30 p.m.
CyberEric said:

I feel confused when people talk about steering feel. 

I believe response and steering weight are sometimes confused for feel.

I would like to propose this definition of steering feel: 

"On one level, it’s precisely as it’s described: how does the steering actually feel. On a less literal but more important level, steering feel is a car’s ability to communicate both accurately and clearly through the steering apparatus information about how the road and its conditions are being managed as the car flows over its surface.

To complicate matters a little, a distinction needs to be drawn between desirable feel or feedback and unwanted kickback."

The above definition, from a quick google search seems clearest to me. https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/features/no-bum-steer-importance-steering-feel

I sometimes drive newer cars that I enjoy the weight and accuracy of the steering, but I find the feedback to be lacking. The 2015 Mazda 3 my dad owns feels great, the perfect weight and accuracy, but the feedback as to what the front tires are doing is not as precise as my NA Miata or my no power-steering Festiva. What's weird, is I like the "feeling" of the wheel moving more in the Mazda 3, but I like the feedback of the Festiva. I like to think of feel and feedback to be the same thing more or less. When I think of feel, sometimes I think steering weight or accuracy instead of feedback.

Anyway, I may be the only one who experiences confusion, so carry on.

Too many current companies now confuse feedback and feel with heft. I think to myself, can I feel the tires loading up with grip as feedback? Can I feel the steering lighten as the threshold is crossed? Are road camber and other variables being transmitted to my fingertips?

Rodan
Rodan Dork
1/22/21 1:15 p.m.
fatallightning said:

Too many current companies now confuse feedback and feel with heft. 

QFT.

Even on our ZL1, the 'Track' setting for steering was ridiculously heavy.  Feel was much better in 'Tour', because you didn't have to strong arm it.

Jesse Ransom (FFS)
Jesse Ransom (FFS) UltimaDork
1/22/21 1:20 p.m.

Boosted, I really liked both my E28, and my Z3-rack-swapped E30 (ha! There's a fix for the school bus ratio, which was admittedly wretched).

Maverick and Dart cage match for worst ever.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
1/22/21 1:28 p.m.

In reply to CyberEric :

Feel is definitely not weight.  Something that whoever is in charge of Chrysler steering needs to be told.  Charger and derivatives are completely, 100% feedback-free, and the more performance oriented models have stiff steering for a sporty feel to fool those who have no idea what they are missing.

 

What fascinates me is that most of responses center around non-front engined cars, usually with tall narrow tires.  Both of these allow the steering to be light yet communicative.  (Long contact patches have a lot of self-aligning torque - they tend not to hunt around following bumps or such.  So the steering can be allowed to move freely because it doesn't have to prevent the tires from wandering)

 

DaewooOfDeath
DaewooOfDeath SuperDork
1/22/21 9:28 p.m.
CyberEric said:

I feel confused when people talk about steering feel. 

I believe response and steering weight are sometimes confused for feel.

I would like to propose this definition of steering feel: 

"On one level, it’s precisely as it’s described: how does the steering actually feel. On a less literal but more important level, steering feel is a car’s ability to communicate both accurately and clearly through the steering apparatus information about how the road and its conditions are being managed as the car flows over its surface.

To complicate matters a little, a distinction needs to be drawn between desirable feel or feedback and unwanted kickback."

The above definition, from a quick google search seems clearest to me. https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/features/no-bum-steer-importance-steering-feel

I sometimes drive newer cars that I enjoy the weight and accuracy of the steering, but I find the feedback to be lacking. The 2015 Mazda 3 my dad owns feels great, the perfect weight and accuracy, but the feedback as to what the front tires are doing is not as precise as my NA Miata or my no power-steering Festiva. What's weird, is I like the "feeling" of the wheel moving more in the Mazda 3, but I like the feedback of the Festiva. I like to think of feel and feedback to be the same thing more or less. When I think of feel, sometimes I think steering weight or accuracy instead of feedback.

Anyway, I may be the only one who experiences confusion, so carry on.

I completely get this. My old E72 Corolla was my gold standard for steering because it was both very accurate and super talkative. The 914 was a lesser version of that (to me) and the Fiero was a lesser version of the 914. The Evo 8 I drove was as accurate and much faster but I didn't like it as much because it didn't tell me what the tires were doing as much. I really like third gen F-bodies because they are light but still talkative, even if they're too slow and a little imprecise. The Kia Forte Koup I just sold was an extreme version of the Evo 8, it goes exactly where I tell it but the electric assist absolutely murders feedback. It's still what I'd consider good, but not as enjoyable as some of the other cars. Then the bad stuff - Jeeps, solid axle Dodge trucks - is numb and imprecise. The gen 4 F bodies are also on my steering E36 M3 list because they somehow manage to be overly heavy and overly boosted at the same time - sort of working hard in order to get no road feel. 

amg_rx7 (Forum Supporter)
amg_rx7 (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
1/25/21 12:53 a.m.

NA Miata with manual steering 

FD RX7 with power steering 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/25/21 1:04 p.m.

Air-cooled Porsche 911.

c0rbin9
c0rbin9 Reader
1/31/21 9:02 p.m.

I think a lot of what people think is steering feel in front-engine cars is just vibration from the engine, doubly so for FWD cars. The engine and steering rack are both connected to the front subframe, after all.

Tk8398
Tk8398 Reader
1/31/21 9:13 p.m.

Alfa Romeo Milano, especially after I added ball joints on the caster rods (rather than bushings), poly control arm bushings, koni yellow shocks, bigger swaybar and torsion bars, etc.

 

First gen Neon ACR is also pretty good.

Sidewayze
Sidewayze Reader
1/31/21 9:22 p.m.

Fiat X1/9.  Instant communication.

As for powered, first gen Impreza was really good.

Mazda 2 is really good for electric.

G_Body_Man (Forum Supporter)
G_Body_Man (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
1/31/21 11:14 p.m.

Unassisted - 911SC

Hydraulically Assisted - McLaren 600LT, E36 3-Series, Mk3 Prelude.

Electrically Assisted - Mercedes-AMG GT-R, current Honda Civic Type R, Cadillac ATS-V.

Dishonourable mention - YF-generation Hyundai Sonata. The only thing I could feel was the electric motor "grabbing." Jeeps have rather appalling steering too.

LanEvo
LanEvo Dork
2/1/21 8:22 a.m.

Among cars I've owned and lived with for a long while...

FWD: Peugeot 405 Mi16 (by a very wide margin)

AWD: Lancer Evolution VIII (by an equally wide margin)

RWD: BMW E30 M3 with "J-Stock" suspension and solid bushings (there's better out there)

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