This looks interesting for those who want to stay with AIRmatic once the CORE's dry up.
There is a trade-off, that we all should be aware of. I'd heard conflicting information from several sources about possible lost functionality, so it was time to ask Arnott themselves. Thanks to ArnottDoug for this information about the new-design struts.
Q1: "I just recently learned from another member that with the newly-manufactured AIRmatic struts, we lose the ability to adjust between soft, "sporty 1", and "sporty 2" settings. Also, we can no longer raise the car and lower it with the new-design ones. Is this true?"
Arnott designed new struts do not provide the active damping functionality found in the O.E. Airmatic struts but do allow you, and the car's level sensors, to raise and lower the vehicle. Our remanufactured struts provide all O.E. Functionality. The Coil Spring Conversion kits do not provide leveling or auto damping.
Our Arnott designed new struts ride somewhere between the comfort and Sport 2 settings and provide the luxury of air springs and auto leveling - but for far less money than a new OE strut. They are built from the ground up with all new components including a custom valved shock.
We typically make these for older cars where the vehicle's value has dropped to point where it isn't worth replacing the strut(s) with new strut from the dealer but the owner wants to maintain the luxury and adjustability of air ride.
Q2: "Does that refer to the ability to select the firmness or softness (Comfort, Sporty, or Sporty 2) manually with the dashboard switch, or does "active damping" refer to something else that the computer does automatically?"
Both. Active damping includes your ability to select the ride and the computer which might firm the ride on turns, etc.
Again, thanks to ArnottDoug for this info.
So, we have the following for functionality:
1.) we do maintain the ability to raise and lower the car,
2.) we lose the ability to choose between Comfort, Sport 1, and Sport 2 (it's basically fixed at Sport 1), and
3.) no more auto-adaptation of the suspension when going into corners and such.
Now, is this a problem in the real world? That's the question.
For me, the answer would be no. Here's why.
Since I happen to like Sport 1, that would work out well for me. All of my W220's are set at Sport 1 for this reason, and my best friend also prefers Sport 1. Others may differ; my Dad, for example, preferred "Comfort" on his car. My mechanic buddy preferred "Sport 2" for a while on his S500, but he has now settled on "Sport 1", which he has discovered that he also prefers. Depends on your personal preference.
Regarding the computer no longer automatically firming the ride on turns, etc., that doesn't necessarily need to be a deal-breaker, either. I happen to have a Strutmasters coil-spring conversion on my '03 S600 TT, which is the ultimate in "manual damping". It's very comfortable in cruising, kinda like "Sport 1", and also does pretty well in corners, as long as you have the front anti-sway bar installed. My car does, using AIRmatic lower control arms. So, I've not found it to be a problem in even spirited real-world driving. Since all AIRmatic cars do come with the anti-sway bar, the lack of computer-controlled automatic adaptation to driving conditions shouldn't be a problem with these new-design AIRmatic struts, any more than it is with my coil-spring-equipped car.
So, real-world, I think we'll be fine with these once the CORE's eventually dry up.