This is how you take adjustable suspension systems to the next level.
Adaptive dampers are all the rage because they are easy ways to alter the dynamics of a car while on the go. These systems have obvious benefits to supercars, which strive to be fast on the race track but drivable enough to make the wealthy want to buy them and drive them every day. However there is a new technology that Car and Driver has just spoken to Ford about that will make a public introduction in the first GTs to hit the market.
Unsurprisingly, the Ford GT’s suspension system is derived from Formula 1 and involves both adaptive dampers and adaptive spring rates. Ford uses pushrod-actuated torsion bars, a design which opens up space for the large air channels we see cut into the body. It works by using two springs per corner arranged in a series. Since using multiple springs effectively cut the spring rate of the vehicle in half, this means that when both springs are activated, less force is required to compress the spring, allowing for a softer ride. In Normal or Wet mode, this is the arrangment used with the three mode adaptive dampers set to their lowest setting.
Sport mode retains the same spring setup but firms up the dampers to allow for a more dynamic ride. When placed in full on Track or V-max mode, one of the springs is cut out of the series, increasing spring rate and stiffening things up. The adaptive damper is also placed in its most aggressive setting to give a LeMans racer ride quality while the suspension drops by 2.0 inches. The only difference between Track and V-Max is that in Track, the aerodynamic hardware is set to an aggressive downforce-generating mode while in V-Max, they lower to let the car be as slippery as possible. Ford runs the suspension and aerodynamics off of the hydraulic power steering system, meaning that these changes take place very quickly.
Drivers can then leave track days with the satisfaction that they could tackle a tough track and put the car in a special comfort mode, further softening the dampers, on the way home as a treat.