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Editor's Note #2: Comfort Is Becoming A Rare Commodity

Way more difficult to find than it should.
James Wong
James Wong
06 Nov 2022
Brands which have comfort ranking highly in their values should not follow the crowd on these trends and focus on getting comfort right.

I just returned the Peugeot e-2008.

If there’s one thing the brand is good at, it’s comfort.

I remember renting a Peugeot 308 SW in base diesel spec with manual gearbox in Spain back in 2017, to drive around Alhambra.

It was the most wonderful car for the road trip through cobbled streets, rough roads and sweeping motorways. It was tuned soft, but not overly so. Just enough to feel like there’s a pillow-like cushion between the road and the car, but retaining body control and predictability.

Sure, it’s not the sharpest thing around, but it really didn’t matter one jot when all I wanted was a great companion for an adventure. Handling is not terrible by any means; far from it. It’s actually rather tidy and you can sense there is agility if you dig hard enough. It was also pleasantly quiet and refined at speed.

I liked it so much, I recommended a friend to buy one in Singapore.

Being back in a Peugeot again after a couple of years, it reminded me again why my hat is off to the brand. In this day and age, comfort is becoming a seriously rare commodity - and it begs the question why.

There is greater pursuit for flashy design, so bigger rims automatically become the default upgrade option for every facelift or new generation. This is one of the problems. It is usually more difficult to engineer a comfortable suspension with larger wheels.

Brands which have comfort ranking highly in their values should not follow the crowd on these trends and focus on getting comfort right. Because this is felt every single moment the car is on the move.

Comfort also doesn’t equate to soft, mind you. It is a good balance between compliance without losing control or stability. Often, people tell me that cars are comfortable because they ride like it has a 30 year old sofa’s springs. I’m not sure how comfortable that is. Bring it up to proper speed and it may even be nauseating.

Technology these days in the form of adaptive suspension allows both comfort and yet a switchable stiffer ride for supposedly better handling. This has allowed us to overcome the ‘oversized rims’ issue.

This is all well and good, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that the calibration still needs to be tuned. It is not a good solution if it doesn’t work well in practice. Comfort can be too stiff, and Sport can be way too stiff.

With the breadth of technology available now, it should be even easier to achieve comfort. Yet, it is rarer than it should be. It truly is the mark of a well-engineered car to be able to get this simple yet crucial point right.

Ride Comfort
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