DSC Sport Module Worth it for your Focus RS?

I finally had the chance to take and test the DSC Sport Module for my 2016 Focus RS at my local autocross.

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Although I don’t tout myself as the fastest or the most experienced autocross driver out there, I can hold my own and consistently take the upper 25% in PAX standings. (more about PAX)
I wanted to see what kind of benefits the DSC Sport Module have for the stock dampers for the Focus RS to make it more active damping based on the car’s ECU inputs for G-force, braking, etc.

I used a similar technique that I heard on a car podcast with some auto journalists sharing how they test performance parts and changes on cars. I did a on/off replacement of the stock control module and swapped with the DSC Module every other run, starting with the stock module. The autocross group I run with, ERSCC, allowed us to drive six runs for that day’s session.

The placement of the control module in the Focus RS isn’t in a bad spot to remove and replace. It takes a matter of seconds for me to swap parts due to the fact I already have my interior bits unscrewed and just need to pry apart and snap it back together in the hatch area.

The course was a pretty fast one, integrated with two 180 turns, and two slaloms(one short 3 cone, and a longer 6 cone pass). The average time was between 40-41 seconds between all the drivers that day. The parking lot we ran on is known to all the local autcross clubs to have dips, expansion cracks, inclines, declines, sandy debris, and pebbles all over. It makes these courses interesting to see how one deals with weight transfer through all the corner transitions, which I think is great for testing out the DSC control module on my Focus RS. Anyways, on to the good stuff, the data.

For all of the runs I ran the car in Track Mode, ESC off, and Sport mode for the dampers. The Focus RS was running 18×8″ OZ Racing Omnia Wheels with Yokohama ADVAN A13C 245/40/18. Here are the results:
Run 1 (stock) : 42.423s
Run 2 (DSC) : 42.277s
Run 3 (stock) : 41.846s
Run 4 (DSC) : 41.792s
Run 5 (stock) : 40.259s Video
Run 6 (DSC) : 39.916s Video

As you can see, I wasn’t very consistent with the elapsed time for each run, but consistent with improving my times as I learned to manage the course after every sequential run. So in this case, I’ll break down the improvement times for each run with their respective part installed: Stock vs DSC comparing the first with the second, and the second with the third run respectively (run 1/run, run 3/run 5 and run 2/run 4, run 4/run 6)

Stock time decrease
Run 1 and Run 3: 0.577s
Run 3 and Run 5: 1.587s

DSC
Run 2 and Run 4: 0.485s
Run 4 and Run 6: 1.876s

The data isn’t very conclusive, but again, shows some sort of consistency. Comparing the delta of the first two runs with the stock module vs the DSC module show a half second of difference between the two. Continuing the trend, comparing the second set of times show an improvement of at least 1.5 seconds but a little bit more for the DSC. That last delta for the DSC module, I believe shows more my driving adjustments to the course and also going “balls out” for the last run rather than any changes to the module.

I honestly didn’t notice too much of a difference in my inputs of the suspension, as I was concentrating more on getting a more smooth run to make up time in the slaloms and try to beat some of the fastest and more experienced drivers in the club.

So, in conclusion, I have no conclusive evidence, except I need to learn how to drive in autocross courses better. haha.
But really, I think for the limitations of the stock dampers for variance in change is what is really holding back this module to becoming a huge improvement for performance applications, but for daily driving use, I believe in my experience has shown much improvement.

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The Driver User Experience

The driver’s user experience. That sounds a little bit repetitive, mechanical, and awkward, but I think it describes what I want to publish in my little corner of the internet.

I am a car enthusiast. I enjoy the look and design of them. I like the sound their engines and exhaust pipes emit at different RPM intervals. I like how the new car smell differs from a BMW to a Japanese econo-box. I scrutinize the shifter feel after a perfect rev-match because it’s not “notchy” enough to my liking when I do the 3 pedal dance with my feet. I long for a curvy, traffic-less road. I adore on/off ramps. A third gear pull to speeds enough to break the law is as enjoyable as the sound and smell of squealing tires from low speed doughnuts and drifts. These are common feelings that car enthusiast share. But I want to cover the driver user experience (UX).

What do I mean by driver user experience?

There are so many things I could describe that compile together as driver user experience. From the radio button layout to the menu selections in the car’s navigation screen. How about the front and rear visibility of the car’s surrounding and how well it works with the rear view camera or the parking sensors? It can be the exhilaration of acceleration combined with noises from the engine and the reality of what the speedometer shows. From the cupholders doing their jobs in turns due to size and fitment to how secure you feel in the seat as you feel the car’s weight transfer in corners to urge you to go faster. It’s the quirks each car has that make you wonder, “what were the engineers thinking?”. From the moment you get in the car and power the engine to the moment you step out and everything in between – that is the driver user experience.

This will not just be automotive related reviews. I do not want to spit out facts and figures of 0-60 mph in x.x seconds. That is easily regurgitated with a quick Google search. I want to critque the user experience in the automotive industry.

Software and it’s digital user experience is quickly making their way into our cars. Screens that manages almost everything, from climate control to engine monitoring. With more software UI/UX integrated into cars these days, it is necessary to bridge traditional, mechanical, analog UX to modern digital UI/UX. I want to find the UX quirks that most cars have and explain how the user flow or design could be better.