Take away their roundness and, as Austin discovered, you take away their usability.
Manufacturers continue to fit them, though, because they think they look cool.
Except Lexus. No, Lexus says it’s using one on the LFA because it offers a genuine improvement in driver involvement.
This is a fib.
“With 28mm cut away from its lower half, the flat-bottomed design creates a higher rotational centre closer to the steering wheel’s centre of gravity, making it less affected by centrifugal force,” reads Lexus’s extensive cobblers.
Notwithstanding the fact that if Lexus wanted to keep weight off the wheel, it wouldn’t have put a start button and stereo controls on it, I have worked out roughly how much weight flattening the rim shaves.
It’s not a lot.
Squaring off 65 degrees from the circle saves, in the carbon fibre rim itself, about two grams.
(A one penny piece weighs three and a half grams, by the way.)
There is also, true, some weight saved in the spoke. By reducing the bottom spoke’s length by 28mm, I reckon Lexus has genuinely saved about 30g.
However, Lexus proudly also says it has – to that very spoke – added “a weighted lower end [to] mitigate the moment of inertia that occurs when winding off lock and returning the wheel to the centre, providing the driver with a more natural self-centring steering feel.”
In other words, Lexus removed some weight from the bottom of the steering wheel. Before adding some weight to the bottom of the steering wheel.
Frankly, this sort of bloody nonsense has to stop.
The next car that arrives sporting one of these infernal flattened wheels loses half a star from its rating.