Cars come with different drive settings nowadays. These little settings can simply increase the steering wheel effort, handicap the vehicle for better predictability in regards to fuel economy and power delivery, soften the suspension and steering for better comfort, and of course the ever increasing forms of Sport-Sport Plus-Track-Race-Ludacris modes. However, there is one particular setting that stands out among them all for me. I usually get one of these cars as a rental and find myself wondering aloud, “What in flippin’ ferrets is a Normal mode?!”
You’re designing a vehicle, you place all of your time, talent, and treasure into making it the best riding car it can be. You build a test facility at the Nurburgring in order to find the limits and fine tune the vehicle’s handling, performance, and durability. After running 6,200 miles on the Ring, honing in on the suspension setting that allows a vehicle to run 90-95% of its best lap time without a liter of Cola toppling over in the cupholders, everyone decides to call this agreed upon metric of vehicular success “normal” mode. Normal, because that is exactly the term I would use to describe the initial interaction I want everyone to have with my product.
Then I’m left wondering, “Is this normal mode for a Honda Fit, or Hondas in general, or general subcompact car driving dynamics mode?” What is normal, baby don’t bore me...don’t bore me, no more.
Thankfully some brands have realized how asinine it is to have normality as a feature. Many premium vehicles now default to “Comfort” mode and you move up to “Sport” mode from there. However at Bentley, only one mode falls in between Comfort and Sport, it’s called Bentley Mode. Now how badass is that?! Doesn’t this tell you that the vehicle is supposed to be in this setting, and everything else is just a momentary supplement to how the vehicle was developed to be?
I’m just saying, luxury automakers understand that no one wants a “normal” car, ever! Not even for a trip to chez Target or le Fuddruckers. We need a term for the commodity brands though because there won’t be anything above Sport Mode. Perhaps we will see Eco, Tour, and Sport modes replace the excitement that is the wonderful opportunity to have your vehicle perform at full “normal” instead of half-assing average like a college student.