Well, do you mean chassis as in the actual construction of the car, or the suspension bits underneath? Yeah, it’s confusing why that’s a catch-all term for two discrete parts of a car. Yes, they’re connected, and they interact with each other, but surely there are more words in the English language that we could avail ourselves of, in order to separate the concepts.
Anywhos, it’s clear that the Ferrari and McLaren walk away from the Porsche in terms of body materials and construction. Yes, the Porsche is well-judged and benefits from utterly pedantic build quality but, as it’s related to the ‘standard’ Porsche 911, it’s not going to enjoy the same bespoke, carbon-fibre-laden platforms as the 488 and 720.
In terms of suspension, the 488’s complex, electronically controlled magnetorheological dampers keep its otherwise fairly conventional setup (dual wishbone front, multi-link rear) in a similar league as the almost inexplicably complex setup in the McLaren. In essence, magnetic particles in the hydraulic fluid in the shock absorbers can be activated by electromagnets, increasing the viscosity of the fluid and therefore offering stronger damping on compression and rebound, all at the flick of a switch.
Got through that okay? Well, bear with us, and we’ll try to explain the McLaren’s setup.
So, the wheels are connected via dual wishbones front and rear. Nothing earth-shattering so far. But then we get to the rest of the system. The dampers are hydraulic (again, nothing revolutionary), but then things get complex. Sensors read a litany of variables – road speed, wheel speed, the rate and amount of wheel deflection, cornering g and even the ambient temperature, to name a few parameters, then feed the results into a computer, which uses an exceptionally complex algorithm to figure out how much hydraulic pressure should be delivered to each corner, ensuring maximum traction and ride comfort. Yes, in traditional suspension systems, these are opposing goals. Engineers have to find a compromise between ride quality and handling. As we’ve found, the 720S expects no such compromise. Yeah, science!
Back in the land of compromise, the Porsche makes do with MacPherson struts up front and multi-link at the rear. But it’s Porsche, a company that habitually makes world-beating cars from technologically dated concepts, like air-cooled engines (RIP) and rear-mounted engines (hopefully never RIP).