Many vehicles in the modern age, both "sports class" and traditional, are starting to employ a special mode known as Sport Mode. This mode can usually be activated via a switch or a button toggle and is able to trigger regardless of what state the car is in. Much like Cruise Control, you can activate Sport Mode while you're zipping down the highway.
But what exactly is Sport Mode, and what does it do? Is it bad for your vehicle to have it on all the time, and is it really going to make things noticeably different? We collected some valuable information about the ups and downs of this mode to help you better understand exactly what it has to offer.
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8 Pro: Increased Torque & Horsepower
You've likely heard the word "torque" thrown around by car manufacturers and dealers but what exactly does it mean? In scientific terms, torque is the amount of "turning power" you have. Imagine that you're working with a wrench and you're turning the tool to tighten a bolt. By calculating the size of the wrench and adding in the "amount of force" you're putting on the tool in a perpendicular manner, you can discover the amount of torque.
These same principles apply to your vehicle albeit in a slightly more complex manner. Torque in this instance refers to the turning power of the internal combustion engine. Although it's too much detail to get into here, the basics have the combustion engine connecting to the wheels and axels through the driveshaft.
We'll get into the benefits of higher torque in a moment but an increase in horsepower will give you an overall boost to your vehicle's max speed.
7 Pro: Increased Acceleration
This is where our lesson on torque comes into play. The greater the torque being applied by your vehicle, the faster the vehicle is able to pick up speed. This is referred to as acceleration. While top speed concerns itself with maxing out the speedometer, acceleration is concerned with the "amount of time it takes to increase speed."
When you're sitting at a full stop and press down on the gas pedal, the car will begin to accelerate. A vehicle using Sport Mode will have a greater accelerating speed, meaning you can "jump off the line" faster than the same vehicle that is using a standard driving mode.
6 Pro: Stiffer Suspension
In a traditional, everyday setting, your vehicle's suspension is responsible for giving you as smooth a ride as possible. A flexible suspension is going to change the "height of the ride" and ground clearance of the vehicle as you hit imperfections in the road. SUVs and trucks make use of hearty suspension systems to help them climb effortlessly over difficult terrain and obstacles.
By activating the Sport Mode in your vehicle, you'll gain a stiffer suspension. This can help with tire grip (when accelerating) as it pushes the tires harder to the ground and will also reduce something called "body rolling" when your vehicle is traversing a corner. With a softer suspension, the body will actually roll outward slightly when cornering. While the average everyday driver will likely not notice this change much, it's still worth noting.
5 Con: Fuel Consumption
The sudden change in your vehicles acceleration, response time, torque, and horsepower doesn't just happen without consequence. The biggest drawback of activating Sport Mode (or constantly leaving your vehicle in this mode) is that your miles per gallon rating will suffer. It's going to take extra fuel to keep up with the sudden power demands, and although it may not seem like much of a difference in the beginning, it can add up over time.
This is why many car manufacturers have added a Sports Mode via button toggle. By allowing you to turn Sports Mode on and off at will, you're able to get the best performance from your vehicle without having to stuff extra money into the pump each week. While Sport Mode can actually lessen fuel consumption, it is mostly a balancing act.
4 Pro: Tighter Steering
There's a reason that sports cars are used in some races. These vehicles are often tuned to be as quick as possible but also offer superior handling to other vehicle types. By remaining as low to the ground as possible and featuring a finely-tuned suspension, some sports cars can take corners at an alarming rate of speed.
Tighter steering makes it even easier to traverse these turns and activating Sports Mode in some vehicles will ensure that your steering becomes as responsive as possible. Most of you aren't going to be racing up a mountainside or navigating a complex series of twists and turns at 70 miles per hour but it's still nice to know that you can tighten up your steering with the simple push of a button.
3 Pro: Better Throttle Response
An increase in acceleration is pointless if your throttle can't handle the change. Thankfully, popping on Sport Mode in many vehicles will cause a direct change in how the throttle responds to you. You'll notice a distinct difference in the amount of time that it takes the car to "get up and go" and the increase in both throttle response and acceleration works wonders on the highway.
In fact, one of the best applications for Sports Mode is to activate it when you feel the need to overtake another vehicle. The increase in horsepower, torque, and response will have you zipping up and past anyone at a much faster pace.
2 Pro: Shifting At Higher RPMs
There are many people who will buy a vehicle with manual transmission just so they have full control on when the vehicle shifts out. Most automatic cars and trucks shift at a lower RPM, which takes away from the overall performance capabilities of the vehicle. Sports Mode remedies this by overriding the traditional automatic transmission settings and shifting at a much higher RPM.
This means you're getting the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to performance and you'll be able to accelerate farther and faster before the car changes gears.
1 Con: Engine Life
It's best to take this last entry with a grain of salt because most car manufacturers are going to be aware of the desire for their customers to use Sports Mode as often as possible. Engines are built to withstand a lot of abuse in the modern age, specifically in sports cars, but it is still important to note that activating Sports Mode is going to put a greater strain on your engine.
Of course, this isn't something that would matter short-term, but overuse of this mode for a prolonged period of time could wear down your engine faster than it may in a car that does not use Sport Mode. It's definitely something to keep in the back of your mind.