Will Turner loves KW’s app-based coilover adjustment
In-car adjustable dampers used to be something we talked about in hushed tones, with the promise of suspension that could match your mood or the road merely an automotive fantasy. However, most major manufacturers now have some form of damper control to tailor the ride. And as systems like BMW’s Electronic Damping Control (EDC) prove its merits, more and more people check the option on the new car orders.
Traveling a similar timeline to the OE development, aftermarket suspension systems have also progressed to meet the demands of more serious drivers. Many coilover kits already offer manually adjusted damping rates and custom ride height, so it was only a matter of time before electronic adjustment also made an appearance here.
There have been several systems on the market that offer a limited form of in-car adjustment, with mixed success. Most are expensive and some proved either unreliable or unremarkable, but the better systems persevered. However, KW raised the bar recently with its Dynamic Damping Control (DDC).
The three in-car pre-sets can also be accessed from your iPhone
KW DDC is hitting the headlines right now because it combines in-car adjustable aftermarket coilovers with the latest smart phone technology, allowing you to tailor your ride comfort from an iPhone app.
The system is relatively new but Will Turner at Turner Motorsport was recently given a prototype system to install on his limited edition Frozen Grey 2011 M3. The company was looking for his feedback and Will is always keen to test new products before selling them to his customers.
“EDC is nothing new, even with aftermarket coilovers, but KW is on the cutting edge when it comes to this stuff. To engineer a system that can be adjusted from your phone sets a new standard. And the best thing is, DDC really works. I’m very impressed with the ride both for comfort and sport.”
Silver KW DDC button fitted to console allows access to the three pre-sets
The basic kit isn’t simply a modified version of the KW Variant 3 coilovers, as you might expect. Instead, the entire strut and shock assemblies have been re-engineered to meet the new requirements.
An electric motor in the dampers moves a solenoid, opening the oil valves to adjust the shock’s stiffness for both compression and rebound. Each damper is connected to a central control unit, which can be controlled from a dash-mounted switch.
The switch allows three high-performance pre-set shock settings, which will be familiar to anybody who has used EDC. Where it gets clever is when the optional WiFi module allows your iPhone kit to give you even greater control over the shock settings.
You have access to the same three pre-set settings using the dashboard button, but additionally, in the Advanced mode, you can choose from the softest Comfort setting to the stiffest Sport+ (0-100%), or any increment in-between. You can tune all four shocks together, or separate the front and rear axles for fine-tuning.
Coilover installation is conventional but struts are connected to control box
You can save up to five individual settings, and share them with your friends. Each setting can be edited and saved as you go, allowing you to create an ideal setup for almost any condition or racetrack or road. Want a setting for rain, drifting, Laguna Seca, the freeway or main street? You can have them all, and when you’re done at the track, revert to the Comfort setting and drive home.
The KW DDC app is free but the WiFi kit is an additional $420. While it adjusts damper stiffness, height adjustment is still set manually via the spring perches. If you want electronic height adjustment, look at the KW HLS system.
“KW takes this technology very seriously,” explained Turner. “This isn’t smoke and mirrors, nor is it a gimmick. They give you the tools to make your car faster. You can make changes and retain them without needing to get out of the car,or have a pit crew,” Turner said. “It’s so easy to make a change and instantly feel the effects. This is what our race team strives for, but it’s not legal on the track yet…”
Regular-looking KW coilover kit includes control ECU and cables on each damper
Will also explained that the stock ride quality wasn’t compromised by the coilovers. “It’s tighter and more responsive now, turn-in is better and it rolls less. The M3 badly needed this and most quality coilover kits will give you that improvement. But the DDC allows you to access all the M3’s abilities so much better: in the softest setting, the ride is silky smooth, possibly better than stock. Yet I can dial in more stiffness when I want to get serious or visit a track. It’s certainly the best of both worlds.”
Currently, Turner Motorsport is offering 10% off the KW DDC system for the 2012 F30 BMW 328i and 335i for $3899.95. There are more applications to follow, with a number of VW, Audi and BMW applications covered.