What Does Sport Mode Do in Cars?

Posted by Charlie Maniates | January 15, 2020

Activating Sport Mode triggers a series of adjustments that dials up your car’s performance ability by altering responsiveness and handling, thus making it “sportier.” But what exactly happens behind the scenes when you press that button?

Sport mode has a direct effect on your car’s throttle, steering, engine, transmission and suspension. See how each of these components change when you flip the switch to Sport Mode:

1. Throttle Responsiveness and Acceleration Increase

Sport mode is designed to enhance acceleration, so you’ll see a noticeable difference in how your throttle responds and enables your car’s ability to achieve more rapid acceleration.

2. Steering Tightens

In additional to increasing throttle responsiveness, Sport Mode also increases steering responsiveness for improved handling. This change helps you navigate through tighter turns while still maintaining control of the vehicle.

3. Engine Revs Higher and Gear Shifting Slows Down

Most automatic transmissions are built to shift at lower revolutions per minute (RPM), but Sport Mode overrides this to allow the engine to rev higher. By shifting at a higher RPM, you’ll be able to accelerate longer and more quickly than your car typically allows.

4. Suspension Stiffens

A looser suspension will allow for changes to your car’s ground clearance in order to accommodate for road blemishes and provide as smooth a ride as possible. The suspension will stiffen with Sport Mode enabled to enhance handling by improving tire grip and reducing body roll, the weight transfer of your vehicle to the outside of a turn.

Though It’s Fun, Sport Mode Does Have Drawbacks

Car shoppers who are considering models with Sport Mode should know that these enhancements aren’t flawless. Most notably, driving in Sport Mode will negatively affect fuel economy to account for the added performance. You may also be in for a bumpier ride if you have Sport Mode enabled on a rocky road. Finally, your engine can wear down more quickly and require more regular maintenance if you use the mode frequently.

It’s also important to know that Sport Mode can vary by vehicle. Thrill-seeking drivers should test it in each vehicle they’re considering to see how they feel about the experience before making a buying decision.

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