Anyone who’s driven an old car without power steering will tell you – it’s hard. Before electric power steering technology was introduced back in the 1950s, people were wrestling their cars into tight parking spaces and positively yanking the wheel to make a three-point turn.
But it’s not the 50’s anymore, and we now have power steering.
So what exactly is power steering and what is it about the Subaru BRZ power steering that takes this technology to the next level?
What is Power Steering and How Does it Work?
Both electric power steering and its hydraulic predecessor work to reduce steering effort. As you turn the steering wheel, a power steering system augments the effort needed to turn the wheel, allowing you to safely glide around corners and into parking spaces. While almost all cars these days use electric power steering, there are elements of hydraulic power steering that are still relevant today.
Let’s take a closer look.
Hydraulic steering systems
The older hydraulic steering systems use a pressurised hydraulic fluid that is divided into a pair of chambers in the steering gear cavity to assist in steering. Hydraulic systems use power from the engine to carry out their important work – making these systems less efficient than their modern electric counterparts. However, many people agree that hydraulic power steering systems allow more feedback from the forces acting on wheels – thus creating a more “realistic” driving experience. More on that later.
How do electric power steering systems work?
An electric power steering setup today, as we know, uses an electric motor, which is mounted on the side of the steering rack, and it drives a mechanism that engages a spiral that is cut into the surface of the steering rack. The control is provided by a torque sensor that is connected to the steering shaft; a computer tells the mechanism when it is needed to provide additional steering assistance. These systems are calibrated to deal with multiple different speeds, making for a smooth drive overall.
However, power steering has advantages and disadvantages that many people are unaware of. Let’s take a closer look at how power steering works and some of the pros and cons that affect how you drive.
Power steering vs. hydraulic steering
Electric power steering systems are usually lighter than their older cousins. Less muscle power is required to turn the wheel, and low-speed manoeuvres such as parking are much easier. These steering systems are also lighter because they lack the weight of the hydraulic fluid and associated cabling. There is also an increase in fuel economy because hydraulic steering systems use a belt-driven pump to move the fluid and this puts additional strain – even on a new engine. If you’re chasing unbridled performance, power steering offers many more options for adjusting the steering, and this is quite common with sport and track mode settings.
The Cons of Electric Power Steering:
The main disadvantage that some motoring purists have with electric power steering is the reduced feel when steering. Drivers familiar with hydraulic steering systems may feel that the feedback is actually lessened, due to there being no physical connection with the road. Another drawback is that a poorly calibrated electric power steering system is less predictable when compared to more linear hydraulic power steering systems. Many car manufacturers have recognized this phenomenon, and this feedback is simulated in the Subaru BRZ.
What steering system does a Subaru BRZ have?
Like any modern sports car, the new BRZ power steering system is electric.
But there’s a twist.
Due to the overwhelming driver’s nostalgia of the feedback in hydraulic steering systems of old, the Subaru BRZ power steering system has been tweaked to feature some of this natural feedback, creating a superior driving experience with the best of both worlds.
How good is the BRZ power steering?
The designers for BRZ power steering systems certainly put in their time and effort to create a system that provides excellent results. Aside from the array of other Subaru BRZ specs that sing in harmony, the power steering shows that it’s all in the details.
To put it simply, it’s sharp, communicative, and smooth when you want it to be. You’ll be surprised at how good it feels in your hands, especially when you’re doing some hard cornering – you can almost hear the brains of the engineers at Subaru ticking over about how to perfect tactile feedback.
Test drive a new Subaru BRZ today
If you’re looking to buy a new BRZ, contact us here at Perth City Subaru. We have a wide selection of both new and used cars available in multiple trim levels, including the second generation BRZ. Subaru sports cars are fantastic to drive, and we would like to invite you to join us for a no-obligation test drive. If you require financing, our deals are very competitive, and the repayments can be tailored to your circumstances. Our sales team is here and standing by to answer any remaining questions that you may have.
If you’re searching for a new Subaru BRZ, or want to learn more about Subaru BRZ specs, contact us here at Perth City Subaru. Our sales team is standing by to answer any further questions that you may have.
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