Car Mechanics (UK)
Koni Special Active Suspension
Test-driving Koni’s new dampers.
Adaptive damping was first developed by Lotus for its GP racers more than 35 years ago and it gradually filtered through to production cars, albeit on performance and sporting models. Now you can fit it on any vehicle for about £550 thanks to a new shock absorber design by Koni.
This Dutch suspension specialist is a big name in motorsport, where it’s a major player in historic racing. It also manufactures dampers for all types of private and commercial vehicles, including buses, trucks, trailers and railway rolling stock.
Its new Special Active Suspension differs from OE adaptive damping in that it’s devoid of electronics, instead relying on special valving to achieve what the company says is 80% effectiveness on factory-fits. It can also be fitted by DIY mechanics.
Vehicle damping has always been a compromise between comfort and road-holding ability, but modern cars focus on the latter at the expense of the former, a situation not helped by ultralow profile tyres which look brilliant but reduce suspension travel. This results in a jiggly ride, especially in urban driving. Koni says cars fitted with sports suspension suffer the most, along with vehicles running on run-flat tyres, such as BMWS and MINIS.
Special Active Suspension dampers feature Koni’s Frequency Selective Damping technology which, it’s claimed, controls large body motions and cornering forces, while smoothing expansion joints and rough roads. It’s wrong to think of it as a ‘soft option’ simply to improve comfort, because the new shock absorbers also act as performance dampers.
To launch the new Special Active Suspension, Koni and its UK supplier, Performance Parts RFT, ran an Active Experience Tour, inviting journalists to experience the difference the new dampers can make in back-to-back comparisons with cars fitted with a standard OE set-up. The vehicles used were a Mercedes-benz X-class pick-up, Audi A4 Sportsline and Ford Mustang 5.0 V8. Drivers were asked to comment on the difference in handling and ride over a variety of local road conditions. In the 10-mile test drives, it was difficult to give an extensive appraisal, but overall the vehicles equipped with Special Active Suspension did feel notably more refined, removing some of the low speed roughness. If our drive of the X-class was anything to go by, we can see pick-ups, 4x4s and SUVS also benefiting, particularly when unladen.
Special Active Suspension is aimed at three-year-old vehicles or older, particularly if their OE shocks need replacing. Interestingly, these dampers are not supplied as a kit of four, but can be bought in axle sets to spread the cost. A very full application list covers the vast majority of makes and models.
Contact Performance Parts RFT 57E Mytchett Road, Mytchett, Camberley, Surrey GU16 6ES. Tel 01252-494016 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. www.koniuk.co.uk