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Porsche's Active Ride Dampers All but Eliminate Body Roll

2025 porsche taycan
We Dive Into Porsche's New Suspension TechPorsche

From the July/August issue of Car and Driver.

The difference between adaptive and active dampers is akin to a robot gaining sentience. Whereas an adaptive system can only change its damping in response to an input, an active system can push back against one and move the suspension, theoretically allowing for the car to leap off the ground. This summer Porsche adds an active damper system, dubbed Active Ride, to the options menus of its 2025 Taycan and 2024 Panamera E-Hybrid model lines. The German automaker says it will also continue to roll out new features that make the most of the technology's capabilities. One possibility: using Active Ride to raise a tire off the ground to facilitate wheel changes without a jack. For now, the system's ability to essentially smooth rough roads and drastically reduce body motions, allowing the car to harness the grip of all four tires better, remarkably improves the ride quality and lateral performance of so-equipped Porsches.

Porsche sources Active Ride's trick dampers from ZF, which calls the tech sMotion. These units build upon ZF's twin-tube CDC (continuous damping control) setup, which adjusts compression and rebound damping independently. A hydraulic circuit connecting the upper and lower chambers, with fluid pushed from top to bottom or vice versa, is responsible for the active part of the equation.

porsche active ride dampers
ILLUSTRATION BY JIM HATCH - Car and Driver

The system operates in real time, making adjustments 13 times per second. Rather than having a stored pressure source, it uses electric motors and a high-power battery pack. This is why availability is limited to the 800-volt Taycan or 400-volt Panamera E-Hybrid.

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Active Ride weighs around 40 pounds more than the equivalent adaptive setup. It also consumes energy. On extremely bumpy roads or during high-performance driving, Active Ride's electrical draw can be as high as 34 horsepower.

The active dampers pair with a single-chamber air spring that's responsible for maintaining the vehicle's ride height when parked. Once you're moving, air pressure is reduced and the dampers take over more of the spring duties. There's no need for anti-roll bars either.

Porsche's biggest hurdle with Active Ride was making sure the system felt congruent, and a team of about seven people toiled for three years on the setup's calibration. To create a better dialogue between car and driver, the team incorporated some slight body motions into the system's dynamics, because it turns out that keeping a car perfectly flat feels perfectly wrong.

Each corner has a dedicated electric motor and pump that can generate a force of up to 2248 pounds, enough to manipulate the vehicle easily. The maximum suspension travel is about 5.5 inches.

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