Opinion: Why excess is the new normal
Ferrari 812 Superfast
The Ferrari 812 Superfast is a performance benchmark… for now
A 316bhp, front-drive hot hatch and 789bhp super-GT make for a week of excess.
Both offering amounts of power unthinkable a few years ago, treading where cars have barely trod before, as what was once unfathomable starts to become the norm.
And they will. Away from the fanfare accompanying cars like these, what sticks in my mind is what honest, modest engineers say about horsepower, when pressed. The most memorable thing I’ve been told this week was by Ferrari chief test driver Raffaele de Simone, who said: “If you have control, it’s never enough.”
More power will arrive, then. And if you can’t get your head around it, electronics will, to make more and more oomph ever more manageable.
It’s pretty much the same thing that Maurizio Reggiani, Lamborghini’s lead engineer, told me on the launch of the Aventador SV. More power, he said, isn’t about low-speed acceleration. That already offers sub-three-second times to 62mph and sub-eight to 124mph. Certainly to 60mph your street tyres can’t offer a lot more than that.
But it’s acceleration above those speeds, Reggiani said, where more power gives you a greater advantage. Many cars get going quickly, but only the fastest keep going and going. Until, quite possibly, you put a limiter at the top end.
At some point in the next year or two, Bugatti managers will have to go to the Volkswagen Group board and make a case for the Chiron’s replacement. Do you think they’re going to suggest making it slower?
Only McLaren, perhaps, is wondering whether too much is, indeed, too much. It is wondering what to do with the replacement for the 720S, as it probably has been for a while. And I don’t yet know whether it has decided to continue the path, but I suspect it will.
Because no matter how much the idea of, say, a Ferrari 250SWB or McLaren F1 reincarnate appeals, it is a high-risk strategy.
Not enough power?
Last week Honda brought its new Fireblade sports motorcycle along to the Civic Type R launch and, while I was standing there wondering what various sensors did, a bloke from Honda came over to explain. Superbikes with 1.0-litre engines are still the performance benchmark, like they have been for a while. They are the bike equivalent of motoring’s supercars: the 488GTB or 720S.
These days it’s expected that a superbike will turn up to the party with 200bhp. The Blade has 189bhp. Which is surely, I asked the man from Honda, not a big deal, right?
But apparently it is. When it comes to the dreadful bragging rights, which I have never quite understood (maybe I don’t have enough to brag about), the Fireblade is perceived as being a little undernourished.
Baffling. I ride a motorbike that had only 65bhp when new 15 years ago, and even though I expect it has lost a few along the way, I can still overtake pretty much whenever I like.
So, a week of excess? I’m afraid I exaggerated. A week of the new normal. Get used to it.
Source: Autocar Online