Interior Seat Cushion Car Upholstery

Drivin’ L.A. with Andrew Chen: the Importance of Proper Seating

Whenever there’s a conversation about cars, the topic of discussion inevitably veers towards a battle of horsepower and 0 to 60 mph times, and it’s no accident that these are also the details that manufacturers highlight in commercials and brochures.

People love to have things to compare, but the truth is, horsepower is difficult to accurately measure with just your body. Having driven many different cars, the only differences I can easily sense are in scales of magnitude — 300 HP is fast, 400 HP is really fast, and 500+ HP is almost too much for the road. Let’s be honest: my “butt-dyno” isn’t attuned to small variances in horsepower.

And if you want to get really picky, the forces we feel from quick acceleration are actually attributed to torque, not horsepower; so these types of debates are kinda invalid anyways…

But the one thing that I absolutely can sense every single time I’m in a car is how comfortable the driver’s seat is. Our most intimate and constant contact with a vehicle is through the seat, but few people have opinions about it, and most just accept whatever seating option the manufacturer has included without question.

An uncomfortable or ill-fitting seat is often a major contributing factor to fatigue, yet we’re more worried about if the seat offers cooling and heating.

I find it interesting that we’ll spend a lot of time trying out a variety of couches to find the perfect one for the living room, but will happily take the default seat in a car as long as it meets our material preference, which is usually leather.

Despite the fact that seating doesn’t often make our checklist when shopping for cars, a lot of thought and technology still goes in to the design of arguably the most important feature of the cabin.

One company that’s continuing to innovate in the automotive seating space is RECARO, and they also happen to make my favorite seats, which can be found in the Nissan 370Z NISMO. The shape and support provided by these sport seats make it feel like they were made specifically for me.

RECARO’s storied motorsports history and its ability to deliver a premium seating experience is one of the reasons why many manufacturers offer their seats as either standard or optional equipment in high-performance vehicles. You can find RECARO seats in cars from Porsche, Aston Martin, Cadillac, Audi, and many other brands.

And for 2018, the company is making its technology even more accessible with the debut of the RECARO Performance Seat Platform (RPSP), which allows vehicle manufacturers to address the performance, comfort, and safety requirements of customers with a lightweight and modular design.

Using a body-shaped composite structure and a unique foam, each seat carries less weight and is half as thick as traditional designs, resulting in more passenger space and improved power-to-weight ratio for the car.

Comfort aside, improving seat technology has the potential to enhance a car’s overall performance as well as fuel efficiency, which is especially important for not just sports cars, but also electric vehicles, where weight-saving solutions are desperately needed to offset heavy batteries.

Racing enthusiasts have understood this strategy for a long time as seats are often the first items to be replaced when a car is being transformed into a track-only machine. And it’s this never-ending quest for the lightest and strongest materials that pushes manufacturers like RECARO to continue to develop innovative solutions, many of which eventually make it into consumer vehicles.

So the next time you’re talking about performance or shopping for a car, look past the marketing speak and pay attention to the details and technology — like those found in seats — that are making an unseen but important impact.