James Watt & the Buick Verano

As we haven’t had the chance to drive the 2012 Buick Verano and as it would be churlish of us to make any assessments of a subjective nature vis-à-vis the ride and handling of the vehicle (i.e., “Buick,” for those of a certain generation, as well as the generation that preceded that one, connotes a certain notion of ride that is somewhere between cloud, yacht and La-Z-Boy), it is interesting to note that the rear suspension deploys a Z-link design which, as the folks from Buick point out, “is based on the Watt’s linkage, a device invented by James Watt in 1784 to drive a steam engine piston in a straight up-and-down motion.” Not exactly something that smacks of the 21st century, but there it is.

As we haven’t had the chance to drive the 2012 Buick Verano and as it would be churlish of us to make any assessments of a subjective nature vis-à-vis the ride and handling of the vehicle (i.e., “Buick,” for those of a certain generation, as well as the generation that preceded that one, connotes a certain notion of ride that is somewhere between cloud, yacht and La-Z-Boy), it is interesting to note that the rear suspension deploys a Z-link design which, as the folks from Buick point out, “is based on the Watt’s linkage, a device invented by James Watt in 1784 to drive a steam engine piston in a straight up-and-down motion.”

Not exactly something that smacks of the 21st century, but there it is.

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To be fair, the Watt’s linkage has been long used in suspension setups and something that has been refined during the past couple centuries.

And the quick gloss on the subject:

The Z-link is a short, pivoting center link with a ball joint on each end; it is located just behind the rear wheel center line. The lateral links from the wheels are bolted to the ends. When the car goes into a corner, there is increased lateral stiffness. When on a straightaway, the suspension travels up and down for comfort.

Explains Matt Purdy, Verano vehicle performance manager, “By using a Z-link on Verano, we were able to achieve the crisp chassis dynamics, a smooth ride, and hushed road noise that Buick customers have come to expect. Z-link and other chassis refinements implemented on Verano are expected to deliver unmatched ride quality in the luxury compact car segment.”

Speaking of James Watt—the man for whom the unit of power known as the “Watt” is named—he is also credited with developing the concept of horsepower. So it seems that he is as relevant today as he was back in the late 18th century.