Now it's time to get behind the wheel of the test mule and see if all this technology translates to an accelerating yet enjoyable driving experience. After all, we were getting into the ultimate driving machine. So the KW DDC Plug and Play definitely had its hands full if it was going to impress us. The engineers at KW threw another little surprise at us and also installed a DDC ECU system in the test mule, which meant the car's damping settings could be controlled through either the DDC ECU or the factory controls. This was a pleasant surprise as this would let us do a true back to back test and compare the reaction times and damping control of both systems.
Our test drive started at the KW headquarters, which is in a relatively rural area with lots of windy roads surrounded by long stretches of forest that are broken up by small towns. If you're the type of person that loves nothing more than a long drive to clear your mind, this is where you want to be! Being that some of the towns are quite small, some of the roads are not as well kept as others, which gave us the perfect test bed to feel the difference in the damping settings. The DDC was in comfort mode as we started making our way through the towns and the car's ride comfort was near stock, with greater control under cornering. A welcomed surprise and a testament to the engineering hours that go into the development of the DDC systems since they not only come with upgraded shocks, but also higher spring rates than stock.
After getting a good feel for the car in Comfort mode it was time to start switching through the settings. One touch of the factory selector near the shifter and we were immediately in Sport mode and instantly feeling the effects of the PWM flow control solenoid valves. For those of you who do not have as finely tuned butt-dynos as ourselves, the DDC Plug and Play system interfaces with the factory display to let you know exactly what mode you're in (Comfort, Sport, or Sport+). A very nice touch indeed that truly retains the factory feel of the OE adaptive damping systems while giving you all the benefits of having upgraded KW suspension components. The effects of the changed damping settings were even more apparent when we started going through the bumpier roads in Sport+ mode. I honestly did not think the difference would be very noticeable since it's not like we were changing spring rates, but the car's behavior definitely went from a civil factory like ride to a planted, corner gripping machine when going from Comfort to Sport+ mode.
We went through the exact same test route and settings using the supplied DDC ECU push button selector instead of the factory selector and we could not tell the difference between like settings selected through the factory controls or the DDC ECU push button. The time it took for either system to make the damping change was also undetectable to our butt-dynos. Both DDC Plug and Play and DDC ECU systems delivered the same level of damping adjustment and instantaneous reaction times.
Once we made our way to the nearest Autobahn it was time for a little high speed testing. The ability to change your damping settings on the fly really shine in these conditions. A comfortable ride isn't necessarily a good thing all the time, and traveling 100mph+ is definitely one of those times. With zero need to stop or get out of the car we were able to put our test mule into Sport+ mode and completely transform its handling characteristics. No longer were we feeling uneasy as we floated through the small wavy sections of the Autobahn, the car now inspired confidence and begged to be driven faster.
As we neared the end of our road test and were on our way back to KW headquarters, we were met with some of the wet stuff. Let me tell you that as great of a performance modification that the KW DDC systems are, they are an equally useful safety feature. The ability to change the handling characteristics and balance of your car on the fly to meet driving conditions is extremely handy.
All in all both KW DDC systems we tested on the KW test mule performed flawlessly and exceeded our expectations. The DDC Plug and Play system is an amazing kit if your car has factory damping control. Where else are you going to find a kit that not only plugs right into the factory harness, but also retains the use of the factory controls and display!? And for those of you who do not own a car with a factory damping control system, the DDC ECU is an equally great product with the same level of performance and the supplied DDC ECU button allows for an OE feel/look to your car's interior. And let's not forget the even greater level of adjustability that can be achieved with the DDC ECU App when the optional W-LAN module is added to any DDC ECU system. The KW DDC systems' default damping settings are also well balanced and fast acting. I was personally a huge fan of Sport mode for daily driving, Comfort mode was a tad too soft for my liking. Though it can be said the DDC systems are also age adaptive, since something tells me Comfort mode will be much more attractive and more frequently used as I put on the years.
Will the KW DDC systems transform your car into the ultimate multi purpose machine? For most, yes! But the bar the average MotoIQ reader holds a performance machine to is not the same as most. So no, the KW DDC systems are not the perfect solutions for those of us who want to have a full tilt race car wrapped in the lovely comforts of OE compliance and refinement. But lets face it, that's a FAR fetched fantasy. However, they are the closest thing any OE or aftermarket manufacturer has come to making that fantasy a reality.