When I was searching for my latest project car, I had my eyes set on finally picking up an exotic – most likely a Lamborghini Gallardo. I had already done the Porsche 911, a Cayenne, a bunch of BMW’s and even a MBZ CLS, but figured I finally wanted to step up into that next realm. Seeing that this was planned to be a casual daily, as well having a particular budget, I found myself looking into the Audi R8 as the most logical next progression. After all, the R8 is still an exciting two-seater. A performer with exotic looks which also maintains a daily drivability. In particular, daily luxuries like Bluetooth and adjustable dampening played a decisive role in choosing the Audi.
A few years back, Cadillac created a tongue-in-cheek commercial stating that Ferrari borrowedmagnetic ride technology to develop the 458 suspension. While it was a great marketing gimmick, the truth was slightly distorted. While Cadillac debuted magnetic ride technology on their CTS back in 2002, it was Delphi who created it.
Fast-forward to 2009 and the technology had reached the Audi R8 and high-end exotics such as the Ferrari 599GTB. Delphi coined this technology as MagneRide Semi-Active suspension.
Delphi's MagneRide semi-active suspension uses magneto-rheological fluid to provide continuously variable real-time suspension damping control. It responds in real time to road and driving conditions based on input from sensors that monitor vehicle body and wheel motion.
Particular to the Audi R8, Audi Magnetic Ride is based on a magneto-rheological principle.
When in a magnetic field, small iron particles in the suspension fluid align themselves in the direction of the magnetic flux. The electromagnetic coil is integrated into the damper piston in such a way that when it is energized the magnetic flux runs exactly transversely to the admission ports in the damper piston. As the piston moves, the aligned iron particles cling together and create flow resistance in the flowing suspension fluid.The greater the energy applied and the stronger the magnetic field, the greater the attractive force between the iron particles, thereby creating greater resistance and damping power. The energy is controlled in relation to driving dynamics and impulses from the road. This means for every road situation optimal damping power is available. This damping power produces - according to OEM desire - a more comfortable feel or sportier vehicle handling.
Or, to put it simply – magnetic energy is used to provide adjustable dampening. One button click for “comfort” and one click for “Sport” – the former allowing for longer travel providing a softer ride, the latter shortening that travel to allow for a more firm and planted ride.
Having this adjustability on the fly allows for the R8 to be a true everyday supercar, with comfort capability over rough roads without the normal bone jarring suspension normally associated with sportscars. I can personally attest to this as my 8 month pregnant wife took a trip with me in the R8 recently and found it more serene than my daily driver FJ Cruiser!
On the occasional weekend when I hit the canyon or opt for more spirited driving, one click and I’m in Sport Suspension mode – this really firms up the suspension and brings out the true performance feel in the vehicle. Many R8 owners have asked if the suspension button is actually ON/OFF but it actually is ALWAYS active – simply moving between COMFORT/SPORT modes.
I can honestly say that I’ve personally found the MagneRide suspension perfect for my current driving style. Gone are my days of owning cars with full coil-over suspension (and I’ve owned my fair share) – I always preferred that “slammed” look, comfort be damned. Now, as I've grown older, I like a little comfort in my life. The dampening adjustability is VERY convenient, especially on long drives – and the ability to just switch it on as I enter the canyon is extremely satisfying.
About 8 months ago, I opted to lower the R8 along with a new set of wheels and tires. My initial concerns over how the MagneRide suspension would be affected was just me over reacting to modifying such an expensive car. Fundamentally, the shorter spring would lower overall ride height but travel and dampening would “adjust” to the difference. Again, another “plus” for having this as part of the OEM vehicle build.
Delphi’s MagneRide continues to be a selection of choice for high-end performance and exotic vehicles. Although Cadillac didn’t invent it, they did play a heavy role in bringing it to market. A market which now includes MagneRide on vehicles such as the Chevrolet Corvette, McLaren MP4-12C, Ferrari 458 and of course, the Cadillac CTS-V.