1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Power wars, your thoughts?

Discussion in 'Motors' started by Mr_Sukebe, 26 Jan 2006.

  1. Mr_Sukebe

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 23 Dec 2002

    Posts: 9,060

    Location: London

    Here's a question for you chaps. What do you think about the "power wars" that have gone on in the last few years?

    Think back just 5-10 years, and supercars were running around with "upto" 400hp (excluding serious cars like F1).
    The last few years have seen a massive increase in the number of VERY powerful cars. Think of the S series Audis, M series BMs, the monstrously powerful AMGs etc.
    Put it another way, it's now possible to buy an Astra with more power than a standard Boxster.

    So is it a good thing?

    I'm going to argue that it's not.
    Whilst it looks great on paper, think about the following:
    - To produce more power, you need either a bigger engine and to slot on some big turbos, intercoolers etc. All of those typically add weight
    - Whilst you now have a faster car, better have bigger brakes, wider tyres, strengthened gearbox, again adding weight
    The result is often a car with masses of grip, plenty of straightline speed (remember that drag/power is the limit for top speed, whilst acceleration is related to weight/power) but with some key side effects. The weight reduces agility of the car and economy. Just think of how lardy cars like the C class AMG are. If the car is front wheel drive you have to control the torque steer. The measures taken to control torque steer seem to often have the effect of numbing steering feel.

    The other key element of the car is the environment in which it's used. Here in the UK we have:
    - Gatsos
    - Lots of traffic limiting speeds down most roads
    - Where roads are quieter (e.g. less used A and B roads), visibility is usually the deciding safety element, not mechanical grip.
    Just where does a 300hp super saloon fit into an equation combining the above conditions? To me, seemingly very badly if you're looking for fun.

    Strikes me that the solutions are:
    1. A relaxed car that's very good at cruising well in comfort, with aircon and all the electronics and safety aids you want. A smooth economical diesel being a good option if power is not really that necessary.
    2. A lightweight sports car with more emphasis on fun than speed.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Bear

    Capodecina

    Joined: 24 Oct 2002

    Posts: 12,586

    Location: Bucks and Edinburgh

    I would agree on the roads, its pretty pointless but it has been seen that track days are now becoming very popular these days, and can only see it getting more so.

    You dont have to go fast to enjoy yourself, even with a fast car. Sometimes it can be fun seeing how fast you can go round an empty roundabout where you're not doing more than 30mph (not drifting BTW).

    It reminds me of when I was running in my old 125 bike. Because you couldnt go very fast, I used to try and not lose any momentum and carry the same speed through all corners, roundabouts etc. so you didnt have to accelerate up to speed again. No speeding involved but was a great laugh.
     
    Last edited: 26 Jan 2006
  3. Stonedofmoo

    Soldato

    Joined: 24 Oct 2002

    Posts: 6,245

    Location: Portsmouth

    Whats even more pointless is all this power is nearly always put down through RWD. RWD cannot handle that power and so it's reigned in by traction control

    Whats the point in that?!

    Why dont they design these powerful cars with AWD.
     
  4. Tesla

    Capodecina

    Joined: 19 Jan 2003

    Posts: 17,405

    Location: Bristol, UK

    What makes RWD not able to "handle" it but FWD can?
     
  5. Stonedofmoo

    Soldato

    Joined: 24 Oct 2002

    Posts: 6,245

    Location: Portsmouth

    lol FWD can handle it even less. ALL modern cars with any real power have traction control which again simply cuts back the power when the wheels start to lose traction. It's an inefficient system

    The only true traction system is AWD as the power goes to every wheel. Even this can be overcome with enough power, but of the 3 systems it has the best chance.

    The simple reason you dont see it on most cars is it takes a lot of money to design a car with AWD that can handle this sort of power.
     
  6. thebrasso

    Soldato

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 5,312

    I'd guess developments in engineering and the use of advanced driver aids (various sorts of traction control systems, limited slip differentials, powerful brakes, tyre improvements) have made more powerful cars within the limits of the average British driver.

    Whether the technological developments putting powerful cars in the hands of ordinary motorists is a good thing is questionable. I think driving is about personal responsibility. If you drive like an idiot, bad things will happen. Thats what it comes down to. Trying to limit the mainstream access to powerful cars is like trying to stop people watching adult films IMO.

    Car makers producing such powerful saloons, such as the M3, Audi RS4 and up to luxury models such as the AMG series, the M5 and Audi RS6 are making full use of this technology to try and tap a sector of the market. People who seek a combination of performance and comfort. People who want a potent car that can do 0-60 sub 6 seconds and go past 155mph whilst still being like sitting in an armchair (unlike driving, say a TVR).

    I'm no mechanic but very few performance cars utilise FWD systems these days, if you look at Honda and the CTR or ITR (examples I can think of) whilst being performance cars these aren't in the same league as say an Audi RS4.

    To me the current road environment negates the possibility of legally and safely using the power of such performance cars. I can rarely push my 169bhp Civic because it will hit triple figures quite quickly.

    As I said, the luxury performance cars seem to meet two needs: performance and refinement. Albeit at a cost.
     
  7. Simon

    Capodecina

    Joined: 21 Oct 2002

    Posts: 23,243

    Location: Berks / Moscow

    Plus it bumps up the cars price, adds weight and kills economy.


    A lot of it is the 'Jones's' effect where people just want the most powerful engine. Safety restrictions also mean cars are getting heavier so need more power.
     
  8. Stonedofmoo

    Soldato

    Joined: 24 Oct 2002

    Posts: 6,245

    Location: Portsmouth

    lol yeah sorry I was going to elaborate on that last statement further but just as I did the fire alarm went off and we all had to stand outside in the freezing cold for 15 minutes
     
  9. Simon

    Capodecina

    Joined: 21 Oct 2002

    Posts: 23,243

    Location: Berks / Moscow

    Lol, unlucky. I always forget about our test at work on a Thursday, Heart attack anyone?
     
  10. Fusion

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 10,460

    Location: Notts

    I'm in the 'power wars are silly' camp. Those primarily to blame are the Germans. Just take a look at Mercedes' most expensive models these days. CL 65 AMG, 604 bhp, 738 lb ft of torque. Yet it's only 0.4 seconds quicker to 60 than the 500 bhp CL 55, and probably not that much faster to 100 (which arguably is irrelevant given you cannot even approach triple figures legally on British roads). They're heavy, laden with meddling electronic driver aids, which if disabled would enable you to rip the tread off the tyres in no time.

    BMW announce that the new M3 will have a 400 bhp V8, so Audi slap a 420 bhp high revving V8 in their RS 4. Merc will no doubt be planning a revised C-class AMG with a stonking supercharged gas guzzler that will knock both the bimmer and the Audi off their perches.

    The build quality of modern saloons is so good that, even at the electronically limited speed of 155 mph, I dare say you can hold a conversation in the cabin without raising your voice levels. Today, some of these German uber-mobiles can crack 200mph derestricted, but even on a flat, straight autobahn, that's a tremendously scary speed. I'm betting, that there aren't many that can safely travel at that velocity, and let's face it; why would you want to? You'd probably be averaging in the region of 5 mpg and ultimately all you'd be doing is driving in a straight line, hardly exploring the handling capabilities of the vehicle.

    We've seen that lightweight, cheap to buy, cheap run hatches such as the Clio 172/182 can be a revelation, but quite often there are other, often overlooked gems on the market. I'd snub a Fiesta ST for a Sportka (stop sniggering at the back). A mate of mine owned one, and it's certainly the most fun car I've been in for a long while, yet it has only 94 bhp, does the 0-60 sprint in a shade under 10 seconds and hits the limiter in 5th at an indicated 112 mph.

    If you want to cover massive miles at high speeds, buy a big diesel saloon. You'll still have stacks of power, yet you stand a good chance of actually being able to afford to run it. If you want fun without sacrificing your license, look beneath the surface at certain superminis. I hear the Ignis Sport is a right laugh, and not because it looks funny.

    It's easy to see why many on this forum enjoy older motors, but not all modern cars are laden with nannying electronics. You can still be relatively old school, without resorting to a thrashed banger.
     
  11. Lashout_UK

    Capodecina

    Joined: 2 Mar 2004

    Posts: 11,777

    Location: SE England

    Yup! Driving my car's great fun, because it can be on the limit below the road legal limit, and you can happily rev the knackers out of it and have a blast, even step the tail out if you feel so inclined......

    It also feels much faster than it is - when I accelerate hard to 60 everyone in the car will remark 'eesh, this is fast, shouldn't you slow down!'....so you can get the feeling without actually doing it :D
     
  12. Mr_Sukebe

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 23 Dec 2002

    Posts: 9,060

    Location: London

    I guess what really confuses me are the implications of buying some of the bigger "monster saloons" that are around.
    Look at what typically happens with say a big Audi. Guy the "sports" version with more power than your average diesel electric locomotive and they will also have ride quality that knocks your teeth out. Just where is the "luxury" in that.
    For me, I guess I see luxury as that of a traditional Bentley, ie. relaxed, quiet, almost stately progress.

    Surely the optimum method would be something like a 530 diesel with a refined, economical diesel and preferably NOT sports suspension or ultra low profile tyres.

    Does this simply mean that we have far too many buyers with too much money and too big egos?
     
  13. D4VE

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 23 Oct 2003

    Posts: 8,899

    Location: Hampshire, UK

    Well, improvements in suspension geometry etc have made even FWD cars very good at putting power down.

    Was amazed to find how well my brothers 306GTi 6 copes without an LSD, and the Civic type R doesnt have one and thats 200 bhp!
    When the Maestro turbo came out with 150bhp is was a phenomenom to have that much power through the front wheels.
    Now there are cars like the Astra VXR and Vectra VXR (>250 bhp), Saab HOT Aeros, Megane 225 etc all in the 200bhp+, mark and are probably doing a pretty good job of putting the power down.

    A while back merlin posted a video of a Civic type R a DC5 ITR and some other cars blasting round the track.
    The scobby didnt win, neither did the supposedly "superior" RWD cars.
    The winners were the FWD cars. more WHP, less weight - faster car.

    However, I wouldnt expect a FWD Audi A6 or Saab 9-5 to be very nice off the line. Lots of weight to shift so traction is very difficult.
    I'd much rather have a BMW or Merc. A luxury/executive car should be RWD or maybe AWD in my opinion.
    The 5 series is beautifully planted even in very wet conditions and pulls nicely off the line with no fuss, thats what the car is about and thats why its RWD.
    Its about the right tool for the job.

    But as said already, to justify AWD you need big power and this aint cheap.
     
  14. William

    Capodecina

    Joined: 26 Jul 2003

    Posts: 10,948

    Location: Derby


    I think that is older cars in general, they feel unsafe. When I am a passenger in my friends Morris 1000 doing about 60 I am praying that the wheels stay on. :p
     
  15. Rilot

    Don

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 20,321

    Location: Wargrave, UK

    So how come F1 cars are 800bhp and RWD? Surely they would drop the power and lose the TC if the RWD layout was incapable of coping with the power.

    The thing is, 2WD cars do spin their wheels when getting off the line with lots of power. What matters is when they are moving and doing the 50-70mph, in-gear sprint.

    What about bikes? I have a comntact patch about the size of a postage stamp but I have no trouble putting 180bhp down on the road.
     
  16. Alibaba99

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 29 Jun 2004

    Posts: 2,318

    One advantage that decent power does give you is the ability to overtake if someone is doddering along a main road at a speed massively below the limit (normally with a queue of others behind who have forgotten to overtake) and do this safely.

    My Saab 9000 2.3T isn't an out and out performance car by any stretch of the imagination (it does produce 260lbft at 2000rpm though :) ), yet its ability to overtake cars 2 or 3 at a time without difficulty is staggering.
     
  17. Stonedofmoo

    Soldato

    Joined: 24 Oct 2002

    Posts: 6,245

    Location: Portsmouth

    Is it not obvious?

    It's weight. An F1 car weighs next to nothing compared to an executive saloon, as does a bike.
     
  18. D4VE

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 23 Oct 2003

    Posts: 8,899

    Location: Hampshire, UK

    Yup weight is the key factor here, a very light FWD car can have much more traction than a heavy RWD car.
     
  19. Simon

    Capodecina

    Joined: 21 Oct 2002

    Posts: 23,243

    Location: Berks / Moscow

    For grip you need weight too though. This is why the Rover 220s are good as they have a massive cast iron lump over the front wheels, Light engine fwd cars don't grip very well as the acceleration ***** the weight 'easier'.

    Bikes are like Rwd cars but dont have much intertia to overcome and hence dont' wheelspin much. i bet 80% of the weight of the bike is on the back wheel
     
  20. karoshi

    Hitman

    Joined: 29 Sep 2003

    Posts: 683

    Location: midlands

    easy, if fits right in my garage ;)

    (actually my 'super saloon' only has 209bhp at the moment but i'm planning work to the engine that should see it edging close to 250hp





    option one, sorry but diesels suck.. i admit that this is my own personal opinion based on my own personal experience.. and it's an opinion that will probably get me slated on this forums but they suck..

    no matter how smooth the diesel is it's *never* as smooth as a comparably priced / specced petrol

    no matter how economical it is you still have to fill the tank, and every time you do you'll wind up smelling like a trucker for the rest of the day

    i've driven several 'modern' diesels recently including an Audi A4, Rover 75, Omega DTI and a Freelander TD5 and whilst they are all reasonably comfortable cars they are ruined in my opinion by engines that, no matter how technologically advanced and refined they are, started life in the arse end of a boat and should have stayed there.. again i realise that this is by no means a conclusive documented study but i've no wish to drive any more diesels to expand on my experiences.

    the one thing that they all have in common? turbos.. "hey lets nail a turbo unit.. one of those things that only becomes a benefit after 3000rpm.. to an engine that only gets to 4500rpm before large parts of it start to dislike each other.. joy :(



    option two, the lightweight car with more emphasis on handling than speed.. i'd go for this but for one fact.. i'm not a lightweight person..

    if by some happy fortune you managed to wedge me into a lightweight sporty 2-seater (i'm thinking about 4 pounds of butter, one industrial spatula and a long runup :) ) then:

    - you'd never get me out of the damn thing again

    - the passenger side wheels would have far less contact with the road surface thant he designers intended

    - it wouldn't get above 3rd gear due to the engine not being able to pull that amount of weight through the taller gears

    :D

    i like my big, implausible super-saloon..

    i like the way it struggles to apply all the power it has through it's rear wheels.. often failing and producing moments of excessive noise & smoke and making it necessary to watch the road through the side windows

    i like the way that if i wanted it to it'll cruise at double the motorway NSL.. the fact that i don't do that is immaterial.. and actually points out that i'm a gentleman, restrained and austere..

    i like the fact that i can fit my 22 stone frame into my big four-door saloon without employing several people to grease parts of my anatomy that i (and they i guess) would rather not have to touch

    i like that it'll do stupid speeds, spin tyres up, go sideways and make lots of noise if i wanted to and still have four leather armchairs, a 6 speaker sound system and double glazing


    :D