If you are a driver there is a chance that you tried both sports and 4×4 cars. And you definitely know there is a huge difference in driving them. As a sports car driver you need to know that even though some skills may apply to both types of driving, most of what you learned while driving sports cars will be useless in off-road driving. Sports cars and 4x4s are almost completely different from a design standpoint. What makes a good off-road car is terrible for sports cars, and vice-versa. In this article, we will cover some key differences and similarities between these two types of driving that will help you ease your transition from the sports cars.
If you are a passionate sports car driver you know that your outfit needs to be as light as possible. Your shoes need to be thin so you’ll have the maximum pedal feel, and your clothing light should be loose in order to avoid any movement restrictions.
But when you are off-road driving you will need completely different equipment. Instead of thin shoes and light outfit, you will need strong boots, gloves, and layers of clothing. You will be spending a lot of the time in the mud, rocks, and snow trying to get your 4×4 unstuck.
The difference between off-road vehicles and sports cars is huge when it comes to their shape, size, tire type, weight, etc. Sports cars need to be as low as possible to get maximum traction and they have almost no suspension. For 4x4s, suspension needs to be flexible and their body needs to be high from the ground so you don’t hit the obstacles on it. When it comes to engines off-roaders need strong engines with a lot of torque and sports cars just need a lot of power.
Tires are the biggest difference between the two. When you want to get the best performance out of your sports car, Tyreright says that you need wider tires with high-speed thread. But if you want to be able to overcome any obstacle during your off-road drive your tires need to be tall and strong with chunky thread.
Driving Position and Steering
This is the hardest thing for people to unlearn. Sports car drivers are used to have their seat really low and their shoulders and back pressed against the seat, but when you drive 4×4 your seat needs to be as high as possible and closer to the steering wheel because you need to have an unobstructed view of what is in front of you.
When it comes to steering sports car drivers use fixed steering technique, which leaves your hands fixed on the wheel in 3 and 9 o’clock position. Your hands remain in almost the same place during the whole ride, never shifting positions. But off-road steering is a whole different story. For off-road driving you should use the shuffle-steer technique, both hands are on the wheel, but unlike the fixed steering your hands are constantly shuffling and changing positions. Even though you are moving at very slow speeds in order to keep your wheel straight you will need both of your hands. Also, a lot more strength is required to steer heavy 4×4 with low-pressure tires in the mud than the light sports car at top speed on the track.
Also, one of the biggest difference between off-road and performance driving, and what sports car drivers should keep in mind when they go for an off-road ride, is how you look on the track or road ahead. Performance drivers look far ahead of their current position because they move at high speeds and it is the matter of seconds to them. But when you are off-road driving it may take you even an hour just to pass a few meters. You need to have a mental picture of the obstacles in front of you and beneath you, so you can build a plan for your next steps.
Similar Techniques and Driving Skills
Not everything is different when driving 4x4s and sports cars, there are some techniques that transfer well and out of which you can even benefit as a sports car driver. If you are a performance driver, you’ll probably know how to corner and maximize your exit speed. This can come useful when you are ascending a muddy hill and your momentum needs to be steady. Also, sports car drivers are experts for aligning your car for the next few turns. Even though you don’t need to think that much ahead when off-road driving, a quick repositioning for the path ahead can make a huge difference.
The two skills that both types of drivers have are, planning ahead and driving outside the comfort zone. Performance drivers will set up the right gear and speed before they enter the turn and so will the off-road drivers. It doesn’t matter if you are on the racing track or the rocky hill, planning ahead will benefit you in both situations, the worst thing you can do is to start changing gears in the middle of the turn or hill climb.
Driving outside of your comfort zone is what makes a good sports car and off-road driver. You need to have confidence in your skills when you come into a corner at high speed and make corrections to keep your car on the track. This also translates to off-road driving when you slowly bring your 4×4 down the muddy and slippery hill or through deep waters.
As we can see off-road driving and performance driving are almost completely different things. But they are similar enough so that people who enjoy one type can learn the other with a little practice. You will get a great pleasure from using your already acquired driving skills and learning new ones in the process. So next time you decide to switch to the 4×4 and go for an off-road ride remember this article and you will have a much easier time overcoming your obstacles.