11-26-12 - VAG sucks

(VAG = Volkswagen Auto Group)

Going through old notes I found this (originally from Road and Track) :

"For instance, just about every Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen model that I've driven in the U.S. doesn't allow throttle/brake overlap. Our long-term Nissan 370Z doesn't, either, which is a big reason why I'm not particularly keen on taking it out for a good flog; overlap its throttle and brake just a little bit and the Z cuts power for what seems an eternity (probably about two seconds)."

VAG makes fucked up cars. I certainly won't ever buy a modern one again. They have extremely intrusive computers that take the power for LOLs out of the driver's hands. (apparently the 370Z also has some stupidity as well; this shit does not belong in cars that are sold as "driver's cars").

(in case it wasn't clear from the above : you cannot left-foot-brake a modern Porsche with throttle overlap. Furthermore, you also can't trail-brake oversteer a modern Porsche because ESC is always on under braking. You have to be careful going fully off throttle and then back on due to the off-throttle-timing-advance. etc. etc. probably more stupid shit I'm not aware of. This stuff may be okay for most drivers in their comfort saloons, but is inexcusable in a sports car)

Anyway, I'm posting cuz this reminded me that I found another good little mod for the 997 :

Stupid VAG computer has clutch-release-assist. What this does is change the engine map in the first few seconds after you let the clutch out. The reason they do this is so that incompetent old fart owners don't stall the car when pulling away from a light, and also to help you not burn the clutch so much. (the change to the engine map increases the minimum throttle and also reduces the max).

If you actually want to drive your car and do hard launches and clutch-kicks and generally have fun, it sucks. (the worst part is when you do a hard launch and turn, like when you're trying to join fast traffic, and you get into a slight slide, which is fine and fun, but then in the middle of your maneuver the throttle map suddenly changes back as the clutch-assist phase ends, and the car sort of lurches and surges weirdly, it's horrible). Fortunately disabling it is very easy :

There's a sensor that detects clutch depression. It's directly above the clutch in the underside of the dash. You should be able to see the plastic piston for the sensor near the hinge of the clutch pedal. All you have to do is unplug the sensor (it's a plastic clip fitting)

With the sensor unplugged you get no more clutch-release-assist and the car feels much better. You will probably stall it a few times as you get used to the different throttle map, but once you're used to it smooth fast starts are actually easier. (oh, and pressing the clutch will no longer disable cruise control, so be aware of that). I like it.

(aside : it's a shame that all the car magazines are such total garbage. If they weren't, I would be able to find out if any modern cars are not so fucked. And you also want to know if they're easy to fix; problems that are easy to fix are not problems)

(other aside : the new 991-gen Cayman looks really sweet to me, but there are some problems. I was hoping they would use the longer wheelbase to make the cabin a bit bigger, which apparently they didn't really do. They also lowered the seat and raised the door sills which ruin one of the great advantages of the 997-gen Porsches (that they had not adopted that horrible trend of excessively high doors and poor visibility). But the really big drawback is that I'm sure it's all VAG-ed up in stupid ways that make it annoying for a driver. And of course all the standard Cayman problems remain, like the fact that they down-grade all the parts from the 911 in shitty ways (put the damn multi-link rear suspension on the Cayman you assholes, put an adjustable sway on it and adjustable front control arms))

(final aside : car user interface design is generally getting worse in the last 10-20 years. Something that user interface designers used to understand but seem to have forgotten is that the most potent man-machine bond develops when you can build muscle memory for the device, so that you can use it effectively with your twitch reflexes that don't involve rational thought. In order for that to work, the device must behave exactly the same way at all times. You can't have context-sensitive knobs. You can't have the map of the throttle or brake pedal changing based on something the car computer detected. You must have the same outcome from the same body motion every time. This must be an involiable principle of good user interfaces.)


Timothy Lottes said...

This sort of stupidity has been around for a long time. My 2002 S10 pickup has a "feature" which somehow adds throttle (likely by idle air bypass?) to maintain the current RPM even if my foot is off the gas, and I pulled the truck out of gear without using the clutch. The second I press in the clutch the revs drop as they should have when I originally pulled out of gear. This makes clutch-less up-shifting a PITA because I need to wait a few seconds until the Fing computer decides to allow the revs to drop. Clutch-less down-shifting is easy on this truck.

To make matters worse, the clutch switch fails (if you disconnect it) in the "clutch-not-in" condition which insures the truck won't start.

Tom Forsyth said...

After the "uncontrolled acceleration" bullshit, there's very few car manufacturers that don't have throttle/brake overlap prevention as standard. Thanks for making the world a shittier place, incompetent litigious old people!

sylvain-v said...

Quite ironic then: the same people who had the fun in the 70ies, with lack of speed limit, lighter cars, no over-imposed turn-human-into-robots-checking-speed-every-5sec-law etc., are the ones wanting and imposing self-controlled unfun cars and laws today.

cbloom said...

I'm pretty sure the VAG no-overlap feature was in before all the Toyota nonsense (Audi had its own uncontrolled acceleration nonsense back in the 80's).

But yeah you're right that after Toyota it is almost ubiquitous.

Tom Forsyth said...

So I was fairly certain before but I just double-checked and the GT-R doesn't have any of that nonsense, so it's clearly not a strict company-wide mandate. So I have no idea why a designed-to-be-hooned machine like the 370Z also has it. Ah well.

old rants