You may have heard the terms “grip” and “roadholding” from fellow enthusiasts or friends. Perhaps you’ve come across this term in car magazines.
People sometimes use these terms interchangeably.
But do grip and roadholding refer to the same thing?
IN SHORT, NO
Grip and roadholding are related, but they definitely do not mean the same thing. You cannot substitute one term for another.
WHAT IS GRIP?
When we talk about grip, we refer to how good the car’s traction is on a particular road surface.
Grip is of course largely determined by a car’s tyres. This is why you can improve your car’s braking and cornering performance by swopping your stock tyres for high-performance tyres.
THEN WHAT DOES ROADHOLDING MEAN?
Roadholding refers to the car suspension’s ability to maintain directional stability on various road surfaces.
In a way, you can think about roadholding as a car’s ability to hold onto the road.
Our road surfaces are far from perfect. From ruts to poorly patched sections and potholes, these imperfections present challenges to cars and their suspension.
If a car has good roadholding, the suspension will be able to deal with these imperfections and enable the car to maintain its directional stability.
For instance, you have the steering wheel pointed straight but encounter a series of ruts. If your car has good roadholding, your direction will remain unchanged.
In contrast, a car with poor roadholding will be thrown off course, requiring the driver to fight to keep to his intended direction.
This how grip and roadholding are “the same” but not quite. Good roadholding requires grip.
WHAT GRIP AND ROADHOLDING HAVE IN COMMON
From the above examples, we now see how grip and roadholding are somewhat the same, but ultimately different.
Good roadholding requires good grip.
However, what helps to determine a car’s grip and roadholding is its suspension and how it is tuned.
The job of a car’s suspension is not just to provide a comfortable ride.
It must also deliver (at the very least) decent handling, help the tyres exert grip (which improves acceleration and braking performance) and provide directional stability.
This helps improve overall safety.