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Remember the simple "sport" button?
On some cars today, it's given way to an array of driving settings as complex as an audio mixing board. Want the steering 20 percent heavier? Just take a deep dive into one menu. Want to dial down your supercar to the point that it starts impersonating a lazy budget hatch? This too can be arranged after a few minutes of menu spelunking. Want to add some bass to the engine sound? That's right: You can now adjust even the sound of the engine, presumably in proportion to how much spring you have in your step that day.
Quite a few automakers have made it a priority to offer as many driver-adjustable settings as possible, but is it too much of a good thing?
"The contrast between driving modes is quite marked, and the way the R8 can change from a genuinely refined cruiser in Comfort mode to a live-wire supercar in Performance mode (an extra switch unique to the Plus model) is one of its strengths," Taylor writes. "And a weakness in some ways; the number of parameters that the different settings adjust is quite dizzying, and to show the R8 in its best light, you feel as if you need to spend some time tweaking them to find the best compromise."
The R8 V10 Plus allows owners to dial in individual settings for the engine and gearbox, suspension, steering, quattro all-wheel drive and even the engine sound, in addition to the main Comfort, Auto (default) and Dynamic modes that the coupe offers.
The choices for the five adjustable parameters seemingly present (pardon this next word) consumers with choice -- that's the promise of this brave new world of submenus and adjustable everything -- but it also appears to present larger identity and long-term reliability issues for cars like the R8.Gallery Audi R8 at Daytona Photo 7Gallery Audi R8 at Daytona Photo 8Gallery Audi R8 at Daytona Photo 9Gallery Audi R8 at Daytona Photo 6Gallery Audi R8 at Daytona Photo 5Gallery Audi R8 at Daytona Photo 4Gallery Audi R8 at Daytona Photo 3Gallery Audi R8 at Daytona Photo 2Gallery Audi R8 at Daytona Photo 1 >Next Gallery: 2017 Nissan Pathfinder SV drive review The family hauler remodeled » Gallery Audi R8 at Daytona
We're still in the early days of driving modes -- it wasn't that long ago luxury cars broke out of the two-mode "prison" of Sport and Eco. The ability to adjust such features as steering weight -- an item that has attracted some criticism for its artificial feel in the R8 and other cars -- poses challenges for benchmarking: Depending on the settings, the car can produce vastly different performance results. Should the R8 be judged in its default modes or modes advantageous to different driving courses versus straight-line acceleration?
The ability of a sports car to pull its punches for comfort's sake, or a luxobarge to do an impression of a hot hatch by selecting the harshest suspension settings possible, presents a challenge for comparison tests -- not to mention a headache once the electronics "wear off." Taylor notes the R8's steering-wheel-mounted drive mode selector is already acting up, but thankfully the modes can still be changed through the submenus of the MMI infotainment system. And that's in a new car. Ten or 15 years down the line, we can imagine a thinning of the ranks when it comes to functioning modes, which will be an assured headache for future owners (VW Phaeton owners will relate).
Is there such a thing as too many driving modes?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.>
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Jay Ramey - Jay Ramey is an Associate Editor with Autoweek, and has been with the magazine since 2013. Jay also likes to kayak and bike.
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Source : http://autoweek.com/article/technology/are-you-missing-out-life-driving-wrong-settings