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Discussion Starter #1
I had read somewhere, and had asked if anyone knew for sure, if the ED had the Brabus suspension from the ICE 451. Someone said that was an long unverified rumor. In looking through the parts catalog, it seems there are four front springs for the 451 ED:

- 451 without electric, without Brabus
- 451 with Brabus
- 451 Electric
- 451 without Brabus, without Electric, but with code K19

and two types of shocks:

- with Brabus
- without Brabus

In the rear, there are three springs:

- 451 without electric, without Brabus
- 451 with Brabus
- 451 with Electric

and again two types of shocks:

- without Brabus
- with Brabus

So it seems the EDs have their own springs that are not Brabus but probably use the same shocks as the non-Brabus cars. Does anyone know what the spring rates are?

I'm also looking for manufacturer's suggested alignment settings. Does anyone know where I can find that?

Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
In my continuing quest to improve the handling behavior of my Smart ED, I've been tinkering a bit. After over 600 miles, my main gripes are too much steady state understeer, and a strong feeling of reluctance to turn in/initiate a turn. Secondarily, I'd like a bit less body roll but without increasing at least the front spring rate much.

To try to address just the understeer issue, without changing the control feel, I swapped the front and rear wheels. Above moderate speeds, I seemed to get traction management interventions, since I now reversed the 1% rolling circumference stagger with the OEM wheels. I normally run 30.5 PSI front, 34 PSI rear, and with the wheels reversed, I ran 28 PSI front and 36 PSI rear. This definitely creates a bit of a tail happy balance especially when hard on the go pedal, but there's still a strong sensation of being reluctant to turn in. I think that's from just the general heaviness of the steering combined with the slow steering ratio and that there is just so much understeer baked into the standard suspension. Nothing I could do with reasonable tire pressures affected this.

I've just about exhausted my search for a set of front and rear sway bars. My next move will be to take it to a shop to determine how feasible it would be to make a custom bar for the rear.

In the meantime, I've also been trying to find actual specs on spring rates and have come up empty. I found a post from 2015 in which Smart Madness says the ED and Brabus use the same suspension, but the parts catalog says they have different part numbers. Smart Madness has takeoff Brabus springs so I would think they would know with certainty, but the take-off springs are bronze and my springs are black so there's obviously at least a paint difference.

It seems like it would take a pretty significant increase in rear spring stiffness to increase the speed of weight transfer in the back to eliminate the feeling of being reluctant to turn in, which is why I think going with a rear sway bar is the way to go. It feels if I can get the weight transfer to happen sooner in the back, it will improve the handling feel and transitional behavior even if it reduces the overall grip by a bit.

Is anyone else even interested in what I'm pursuing? Any suggestions or ideas?


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Narrow front tires have more to do with under steer than suspension. I would expect the factory setting of the power assisted steering has the most dominant affect on perceived slow turn in. Wider front wheels/tires reduce under steer. Lowering springs would remove body roll. Others have report negative handling traits after installing heavier sway bars.

If I owned an ED I do not think I would modify any of those items.
 

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Wide tyres generally stop understeer and replace it with oversteer. My car was an understeering pig until I put 195/50/15 tyres on it on all four corners. Now it literally does a drift when I go past the limits.

The ED suspension is not a Brabus suspension. Someone recently found this out an interesting way by installing the ED suspension to an ICE. It gave the car what appeared to be a 3" lift. Well, the Brabus suspension lowers, it doesn't raise. So at that point it became clear that the ED definitely uses a beefed up version of the standard ICE suspension. That does make logical sense, the ED throws around a bit more weight than the ICE.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I didn't do a good job of explaining what I was after in my prior post. So let me try again.

There are three separate aspects to overall handling behavior. There's the control feel/vehicle feedback that is how it feels when you turn the steering wheel and what sensations you also get back from the way the vehicle reacts. There is the actual cornering behavior which is whether it understeers or oversteers at the limit and during limit transitional maneuvers. Then there is the physical limit of grip in actually turning a corner, basically how much cornering force can be generated.

I'm primarily interested in just the first, which is how it feels to turn the steering wheel and the responses that I get in return. It's kind of like how a Miata is lauded for being a great driver's car, yet it doesn't have the most grip or best limit behavior. It just feels eager to turn in and feels happy when doing so, even if it gets ragged when you try to drive it at the physical limit.

These are inter-related and it's impossible to alter one without altering the others, but I want to place the emphasis on enhancing the steering feel and vehicle feedback, even if that means total grip is lowered or limit-behavior is compromised. Because while I'll scoot around quickly, I'll never drive this at the limit on a city street, so I want to maximize the pleasure of the driving experience. And to me that means making it feel more eager to turn in, and at least at 8/10ths, feel like there's minimal understeer.

And I forgot to mention too, that I think a contributing factor is that the front track is 100 mm narrower than the rear. The weird sensations of loading up against the outside wheels at an angle that is different than a normal vehicle probably contributes to the weird sensations, and probably creates some real world handling issues that they had to compensate for. Wheel spacers for the front are probably necessary for what I want.

Thanks for all the input, and if anything more comes to mind, please let me know.

By the way, I'll find and repost that message from Smart Madness regarding the Brabus and ED suspensions later when I'm at my normal computer.



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Either your driving feel is extremely touchy or mine is Fred Flintstone-like, because I am perfectly happy with the way my ED's handle and feel.

Len
2014 ED Coupe 11,500 miles
2014 ED Cabriolet 600 miles
 

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@InjuredAgain You need to PM "DrKillerBee". He has both an ICE smart coupe and a smart EV. He has the Brabus suspension on his ICE, but it is not a Brabus model. He regularly tracks the ICE and is a driving instructor for a sports car racing group. He also has a Miata.

It sounds like the two of you have a lot in common and he can probably be a great help in advising you on the proper EV suspension setup.

Good luck.
 

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Running the same size tires all around, my cars still under steers at the limit, be it with 145, 175, 185 or 215s.

I never liked the assisted steering in the 451, I bought a car without it for that very reason. Short of installing a manual steering rack, I do not think anything your try will get you what you are looking for. If you start limiting rear traction, you are just going to have to drive the car slower to keep it in a straight line.

Second option, go buy a different car to drive aggressively.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
@InjuredAgain You need to PM "DrKillerBee". He has both an ICE smart coupe and a smart EV. He has the Brabus suspension on his ICE, but it is not a Brabus model. He regularly tracks the ICE and is a driving instructor for a sports car racing group. He also has a Miata.

It sounds like the two of you have a lot in common and he can probably be a great help in advising you on the proper EV suspension setup.

Good luck.
This is perfect! I'll contact him. Thanks for the lead!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Running the same size tires all around, my cars still under steers at the limit, be it with 145, 175, 185 or 215s.

I never liked the assisted steering in the 451, I bought a car without it for that very reason. Short of installing a manual steering rack, I do not think anything your try will get you what you are looking for. If you start limiting rear traction, you are just going to have to drive the car slower to keep it in a straight line.

Second option, go buy a different car to drive aggressively.
I'd actually prefer a bit less steering effort. Higher steering effort often makes a car feel reluctant to turn in unless it has a razor sharp reaction to steering inputs, which the Smart doesn't have partly because of the slow steering ratio. Spending money on a new steering rack is probably not cost effective and with an unknown benefit because I can't know for certain if it is possible to reprogram the steering assist.

Limiting rear traction is exactly what I want to do. That's what a rear sway bar would do! But also like I said above, I'm good with changing the steering feel and feedback to something more favorable to me even if that reduces absolute grip. It's more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow, right?

I've got a Corvette modified for running on track, so I'm not trying to duplicate capability, just enhance feel and response. Here's a pic of the two of them:

 

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If SmartMadness is right about that, it would mean 451 smart EDs have worn two types of suspensions. The "lift kit" suspensions being fitted to the EDs with the Tesla battery pack (< or = 2011), and the Brabus suspension being fitted to the later EDs (2012+). That's an interesting factoid there...

Even more interesting, the "lift kit" ED suspension appears to have the same part numbers as the standard ICE suspension. I wonder if eBay is the only way to obtain them??
 

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If SmartMadness is right about that, it would mean 451 smart EDs have worn two types of suspensions. The "lift kit" suspensions being fitted to the EDs with the Tesla battery pack (< or = 2011), and the Brabus suspension being fitted to the later EDs (2012+). That's an interesting factoid there...
Not a surprise as in the evolution from the (Tesla HV) Gen one/two BETA ED a lot of odd ball parts were used - don't believe that any of the early BETA ED's were "sold" but rather scrapped or parted out at the end of their lease?

The current 451 Gen three PRODUCTION ED (MY13-16) not only rides on a unique suspension but some of the build measurements have been fractionally altered - tridion pan width and seat height when compared to the ICE version.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
It does kind of make sense that some interior locations have been altered to accommodate the battery pack, whether just the added thickness or a change in mounting locations due to the battery pack structure. It does not make sense (as has been said) that the Brabus and ED suspension is the same, just based on vehicle weights and the ride heights that result. It may be that the ED springs have the same coil thickness but is considerably longer to accommodate the extra weight and to create a normal ride height despite the extra weight. I can't really envision any way the springs could be nearly the same static, unloaded length.


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If you can get the VIN of a Brabus in the 2013 - 2015 era, you can compare it to the suspension on your ED. That will answer all your questions and end the speculation.

Actually with this site, you may not even need the VIN:

https://nemiga.com/cat_spares/epc/smart/f/

Len
2014 ED Coupe 11,500 miles
2014 ED Cabriolet 600 miles
 

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Not a surprise as in the evolution from the (Tesla HV) Gen one/two BETA ED a lot of odd ball parts were used - don't believe that any of the early BETA ED's were "sold" but rather scrapped or parted out at the end of their lease?
While some folks protest this, I starkly remember that smart couldn't find people to lease all of the 250 or so Phase II EDs, so some dealerships just decided to sell them outright at the cool price of $42k-$43k.

Still trying to find the original thread where we made that discovery, but here's me mentioning it back in 2012

http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums/f4/looking-2011-electric-drive-smart-car-44509/
 

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Discussion Starter #17
If you can get the VIN of a Brabus in the 2013 - 2015 era, you can compare it to the suspension on your ED. That will answer all your questions and end the speculation.



Actually with this site, you may not even need the VIN:



https://nemiga.com/cat_spares/epc/smart/f/



Len

2014 ED Coupe 11,500 miles

2014 ED Cabriolet 600 miles


I've already used a parts lookup, which is why I know there are separate part numbers for Brabus and ED suspension pieces as I described in the first post of this thread.

It does sound like what I need to do is one of two things.

First, I can find out if a rear sway bar is compatible with a DeDion, and if so how to get one custom made. If #1 fails, second is to measure corner weights of my ED, calculate its center of gravity and rough location, measure the original spring rates, and then have some custom springs made based on some of the calculator spreadsheets that autocrossers and track racers use when making suspension changes. That's more complicated but a guestimate should have roughly the same margin for error as having a custom sway bar made.

The ED saves us so much money in fuel costs that I should hopefully be able to convince SWMBO that it is money well spent to update the suspension.


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While some folks protest this, I starkly remember that smart couldn't find people to lease all of the 250 or so Phase II EDs, so some dealerships just decided to sell them outright at the cool price of $42k-$43k.
To my recollection, only seen one "owned" Gen two ED.

And Mr. T said it best - I PITY THE FOOL . . .
 

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So what we own are Gen 3 ED's? Is that what it means when I see "451 ED3"?
Yes.

2007 - Gen one London (corporate lease @ $499 per month) only a test w/100 ED's complete with Tesla HV batteries. Oops, MM is correct as these had sodium-nickel chloride Zebra batteries.

2009-12 - Gen two (Tesla HV) three-phase roll-out, 250 leased at $2,500 down $599 per month 48 mo/37,282 mi. Car2Go also brought in 300 vehicles.

2013-16 - Gen three, our first drive in a "cobbled up" 451 ED prototype was in Atlanta 6/1/2013 . . .
 

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