Modern cars are fantastic, but there’s so many settings these days! The thing a lot of people want to know about is, what is sports mode? What does sport mode do?
Sport mode is becoming more and more common in non-sports cars these days. The problem is, not everyone knows what it does or how to use it effectively. In this article, we’ll break down what you need to know about your vehicle’s sport mode feature and when you should or shouldn’t engage the SPORT button. Let’s get right into it!
What Does Sport Mode Do?
It’s human behavior to be curious when it comes to modes and settings for things. You see a button in your car, you want to know what it does! Does it make the car more powerful? Does it make you faster?!
At a very basic level, sports mode increases the responsiveness of the car. In short, this could mean that the throttle becomes more sensitive or the gearbox revs out higher when driving in a more spirited manner. Regardless of the effect, the idea behind sports mode, is that it should give the driver a more engaging experience, which is usually achieved by making the car faster or creating the perception that it is.
For basic cars, that aren’t really sports cars, such as a basic Ford sedan, the sports mode might just make the steering wheel feel more weighted, hold the revs longer in a gear as you accelerate and downshift more aggressively. In the off chance on these non-sport type cars, the engine horsepower may also increase, giving the car more acceleration.
In a sports car such as a BMW M3 or Mercedes C63 AMG the sports more has a real effect on different components of the car. For example, sports mode will cause the transmission to shift gears more aggressively hence allowing the driver to change gears faster, the suspension will also firm up, allowing for a more responsive and direct driving feel.
On the performance side of things, there’s usually a few different levels of sports mode in these cars, which change the settings from softer to a more intense experience. This is particularly true when it comes to the engine performance. The sports mode will employ more power to the car enabling it to accelerate quicker and give the driver more responsive performance than what the comfort modes would provide.
Sports mode in these types of cars is what really brings them to life and allows you to experience them in their best form. Some cars even have enhanced sport modes such as Sport+ and even Race Mode. These take the original sport mode configuration and increase the performance of everything even more. But these are all set by the manufacturer, it’s also quite common to give the driver the ability to individually select how they want each component to perform in an individual mode as well.
Suspension In Sport Mode
It’s important to note that not all cars’ sport modes will give you the same things. However, some cars’ sport mode will alter the suspension response as per what was mentioned above.
Generally, vehicles will have a suspension that is fixed and with one setting. It’s designed this way to balance out evenly for the handling to be as agile as possible, the handling to be perfect and the drive to be comfortable, which is what the manufacturer had originally envisioned in the first place. But, it’s not always the case that one size will fit all. With a fixed suspension setting the car will need to compromise to be able to balance between daily and performance driving. On any car with adjustable suspension according to mode, you will have a more dynamic driving experience.
If you take a look at a Cadillac for example, it has a setting known as magnetic ride control. This allows drivers to have a softer driving experience or you can opt for a sharper drive. With this type of adaptive technology to suspension, you can really decide what type of response you’re hoping for. The biggest and most bulky of cars can end up feeling like a tiny sports car, or at least attempt to emulate the feeling to an extent.
The overall body of the car seems to feel like the weight spreads itself out more when in sport mode, particularly if you’re going around bends. The car feels more stable, it seems to allow you to relax a little and do less work, and overall just feels like an easier, more comfortable drive.
When employing sports mode in sports or supercars, the effect it gives is a more dynamic ride. The sports mode will usually enable a harder suspension setting, that will give more direct handling whilst improving grip so you can attack a road or track as quickly as possible.
Sport Mode: All Wheel Drive
Sport mode can also affect the way the all wheel drive will perform. The rear wheels tend to have more power sent to them, adding to the precision of the vehicle’s handling. For example, an all wheel drive car may usually have a 50-50 split of power sent to the front and the rear wheels in its normal mode, but in sports mode the car could be configured to sent 20% of the power to the front wheels and 80% to the back. And, this ratio isn’t always fixed, there’s cars out there that are able to manage this power split on the fly and vary it according to where the grip is needed.
In essence, when sport mode is enabled for an all wheel drive vehicle, you can move around those corners far easier even with the throttle pushing the pace.
Sport Mode: The Sound
Some vehicles will have the sound of its exhaust completely change when they’re put into sport mode. Some cars even have the sound of the engine synthesized and sent through into the car’s speakers, giving the driver a more fuller driving experience in this mode.
Other cars might have an automated exhaust valve that is opened when sport mode is enabled. This will enhance the sound of the car by allowing the exhaust to by-pass portions of the exhaust that muffle what comes out. For example, instead of the exhaust flowing through the quieter pipes in the cat-back, it will send the flow straight though, resulting in a much louder and sonorous exhaust note being produced.
This hand in hand compliments sports mode, as a louder sounding car, gives the sensation of the car being faster than it is.
Interior Display In Sport Mode
Some cars including the newer BMWs and Mercedes, when sport mode is enabled, will completely change the dash display and create a sort of sport/racing HUD.
The areas of where the speedometer and revs used to be will change, the color might have changed to a more neon looking red or blue. It’s a pretty cool feature, and it makes you feel as if you’re in a different car as it differentiates between the different modes.
Safety Features From Sport Mode
Some vehicles even set you and the car ready for the performance that the sport mode can do. The steering wheel height might change, along with the driver’s seat and headrest. What is most important though, is the different driving aids and how they’re effected by sports mode.
The major player here is the traction control, sport mode will usually reduce the traction control, this is mainly to ensure that it doesn’t interfere as much when driving more aggressively with the car and it also also for maximum power to the wheels. Of course, it will still intervene so the car doesn’t just do a burnout or drift when you apply the accelerator.
Although there’s some settings that turn off traction completely, which is where you need to be fully alert as a driver. Sport mode may also reduce the input from the ABS system, this is advantageous as ABS isn’t always an aid to the driver, for example when braking hard on track, ABS can become confused and not allow you to fully apply the brakes when attacking a corner and braking late, resulting in the ABS system sending you off the track.
These are some of the best features sport mode has, but it can be dangerous depending on the driver.
Sport mode can be a great feature, although it will give you a bit of additional wear and tear and give you poor fuel consumption, the pros far outweigh the cons. With sport mode, you really get to enjoy the car as it was intended, in it’s highest form. It gives us the flexibility to also engage sports mode when you feel like it, allowing you to use the less harsher modes for every day driving making the car a better all round package.
Sports mode has so many added benefits, especially in more advanced performance focused cars. Without it, us car enthusiasts would need multiple cars to do our daily driving and performance driving, but with the developments in technology today, manufactures are able to achieve a much more balanced package to meet all your needs.
Now we’ve answered the question ‘What does sport mode do’, you know everything there is to know about sport mode and how it can effect all of the different aspects of a car.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some frequently asked questions
How Does Sport Mode Differ From Eco Mode?
Sport mode allows the throttle to have a much sharper response when hitting that gas pedal whereas eco mode has the complete opposite of this.
Eco mode will make the throttle open much slower and the gas pedal feels like it has little response to it and is far more resistant. This is for obvious reasons, sports mode wants to provide maximum performance but consequently uses more fuel to do so, where eco mode is the total opposite, aiming to use the least amount of fuel by ensuring the engine is powering the car as efficiently as possible.
Does Sport Mode Make Me Use More Gas?
If your acceleration is increased, the horsepower, the torque and overall performance, this means the engine will be working harder. Like with humans, the more energy we use, the more energy we need such as water or foods.
The same applies to cars with sport mode. The mode will almost certainly lead to higher consumption of fuel. So, if you’re not into that, best stick to eco or standard modes!
Are There Any Other Cons To Enabling Sport Mode?
When weighing up pros and cons to using sport mode, you’ll probably find yourself ticking more boxes in the pros section than the cons. However, aside from fuel consumption, I guess you could argue that the overall engine life could be reduce, or at least the components could wear faster. This is due to the increased load on the engine and its components, but sports cars are developed to be able to handle this and will usually hold up quite well, but some weaker components may deteriorate faster than usual.
After plenty of abuse in sports mode and making that engine work overtime, it could reduce the overall life span of the car. Having said that though, the more modern the car, the better they are at developing systems to withstand the consistent work and abuse they’re taking. In fact, they’re being built for that specific usage.
Below is a supporting video that answers the question, what does sport mode do, from another perspective but essentially with the same points that were highlighted in this article.