A year ago, I bemoaned
the fact that a really stupid horsepower
race was under way.
Every time a new car was introduced,
it had more horsepower than the out
going model. Sometimes fuel economy also
increased, on the other hand,
it's obvious that fuel economy COULD have
been given priority, however, if you ever needed
proof that the car manufacturers
are out of touch with reality, the race for ever
more power is still on.
Gas is more expensive than ever and because everything
else costs two arms and/or legs, much
more painful to purchase.
Many consumers are switching
to fuel-sippers. Regardless, cars are
more powerful than ever.
Even cars that aren't here yet
are going to be more powerful than ever.
Examples? The new 911 Turbo
is up 20 hp. The M5 is growing in displacement
and probably leaping in power.
MB's upcoming Gullwing will
be in the 750 horse ballpark. Audi's S4 will
be dropping two cylinders, but gaining 10 hp and
gobs of torque. And that's just
The 2009 Maxima is up to 290
horses. The 2010 Mustang, despite losing
its big-block 6.2-liter Boss V8, should grow to
5.0-liters and make much more
than 300 horses. Then there's that Camaro
SS which very well might have over 500 horsepower,
the 550 hp CTS-V and the 638
pony ZR1. These are just off the top of my
Is "more POWA!" the future,
or has the entire industry been caught without
pants and excuses?
Common sense HAS to prevail
in the horsepower race that
is still underway in the Western world.
Showing an illustration of the
FIAT at the top of this page is merely to illustrate
that fun and horsepower are not necessarily
the same thing. Ask anyone who
raced or rallied a Mini Cooper back in the
Equally, that old war horse
of a 1988 Chev Celebrity that I still use
for carrying stuff, gives me 28 mpg and is excellent
use to which I put it. This
weekend, for instance, I managed to transport
a ten foot tree in a three foot pot, home from
by opening the tailgate and
the backward facing seats. That old 2.8
liter GM V6 banger will go forever and does all
that I want it to.
Sunday mornings, out comes
the 944 and off I go for a different kind
of motoring on my own. Nevertheless, the Porsche
delivers 30 mpg, 200 Km/h
and road holding and brakes that are still
second to none. All this with 170 horsepower. If
I want to out run
a G35 on a twisty back road,
I wait for the first substantial bend in
the road, then out brake and out corner the 300 horsepower
monster. If he (she) happens
to have a gas guzzling automatic transmission,
so much the better. Select second gear
Equally I'm also driving a
99 Infiniti G20. 33 mpg is standard and although
the brakes and road holding don't come close the
Porsche, it's still a fun car
to drive fast from point to point.
Giving the likes
of Clooney or Cowell 1000 Veyron horsepower
is like Napoleon invading
Russia, it's bound to result in disaster.
and is completely
unnecessary. (Iraq, anyone?)
Most of us agree
that even if the entire planet
swapped from a vehicle putting
out more than 200g/km of CO2
which emits less
than 110g/km, such as a Toyota
Prius, not a lot would change
on the global weather front.
Yet, if you listen
to any politician - or worse
still, the popular media - us drivers
are dooming the planet to be drowned
and then fried!
Now, don't get
me wrong. I think the industry
working on improving fuel efficiency,
but I also reckon people
need to try and
keep things in perspective.
should be a voluntary limit on
cars' horsepower or power to weight ratio,
before the do-gooders force
a stupidly low one on us
One TV channel
recently opened its' six thirty
'show' by revealing that there was now
"no doubt" that it is humans who
are causing climate
change. However, in the item,
leading environmental scientists
- mostly operating on politically
(which tends to dry up if they
give the wrong answers) - said that
they were only 90 per cent certain
that it was down
to motor vehicles.
So there's a
one in 10 chance these potentially
biased people are wrong. Clearly
some doubt then.
But before I
go on to quote every page of Michael
Crichton's State of Fear - a great
novel, backed by plenty of factual
far more common sense than anything
failed US presidential candidate
and eco-warrior Al Gore has
ever dreamt up
- I'll get to the point I am trying
to make. You see, even though motorists
like me are sure we are doing
to the planet, there are those
who will poke their noses in and
spoil our fun, whether we agree with
them or not.
That's why I
think we should voluntarily bring
in a maximum limit on horsepower
figures for cars, before some
minority forces some
stupidly low limit on us. I don't
want to spoil anyone's fun, but today's motors
have more than enough performance
- 300 horsepower in a family
sedan is obscene.
with even more, could do more
harm than good with the accompanying
This idea came
to me after driving some first
class hot hatches, such as the Mazdaspeed3.
This car, among others,
to drive than some supercars from
a couple of decades ago. It is controllable,
enjoyable and can
rocket from 0-60mph
in under seven seconds, which
means it's easily fast enough for
Not only would
my plan give motorists some 'responsible'
publicity, but it also saves
the car companies from all the cost and
bother of forever
pumping up the power figures
with every successive model.
Each new Audi RS4, BMW
M3 or Porsche 911 Turbo simply 'has'
to have more bhp than its predecessor.
In reality, this
can't go on forever.
For much of the
time, you don't get to use much
of these cars' full potential,
as the mass of modern-day computerized
'aids' they are
fitted with rush to interfere as
soon as there is a glimmer of traction
loss or slip angle.
So what's the
point in having it in the first
Now, I haven't
done a detailed survey of outputs,
but any form of limit should
work on a sort of sliding power-to-size-to-weight
And once all the manufacturers
have got their models up to the
respected benchmark figure, they can
development solely on improving
the efficiency and safety of future
Which means we
can keep what we all want - performance
- and yet get cleaner, greener,
safer cars... which cost less to