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Revhead Ramblings: The Weight War Is On

Horsepower is done, we’ve seen manufacturers battle for the crown of the most powerful car and technically the Devel Sixteen has won (or at least it will if/when it makes it to production.)

The thing is though, despite the claims from the manufacturer, there wasn’t all that much coverage. I don’t think we can even comprehend 5000bhp, our current hyper cars are pushing boundaries with 1000bhp and they’re starting to struggle. It seems now manufacturers must turn their heads to another variable that has a huge bearing on a vehicle’s overall performance; weight.

If you look at some of the fastest lap records, they’re often by cars that resemble scaffolding, they’re then fitted with modest engines to keep weight down and the results are astonishing. For the rawest driving experience, you can’t get much better than a Caterham or Ariel Atom.

Speed is Too Accessible Now

It’s a matter of what the manufacturer intends the car to be, if it’s made for the track, power isn’t everything; a good power to weight ratio is everything for posting low times on the board. If, however they’re looking for outright speed and bragging rights then power is the crucial factor. The latter option seems redundant, particularly now. If I were to drive a Bugatti Chiron and plant my foot for six seconds, I’d have my licence taken away.

Obviously, the Chiron isn’t a fair example, it’s performance figures are justified, it was built purely for the purpose of speed. The same can be applied to an Audi RS3 though, bury my foot into the carpet for 10 seconds and I’ll find myself surrounded by four concrete walls by the end of the day. How can you go out for a drive in your lovely fast car knowing you’re only using six tenths of its potential? I’d much rather go out in a Fiesta ST and use every last bit of horsepower than scratch the surface of an AMG.

Less Weight Equals More Fun

An example I read online said a BMW M2 can lap Laguna Seca in 1.40, the same time as a stripped-out MG Midget. Which would you rather be in though? Once you’ve driven truly rapid cars, you’ll come to respect those focused on weight saving even more. It’s ok being able to rip your face off by putting your right foot to the floor, but carrying speed through corners and braking later and later as you learn the track is a much better experience and can only be achieved with weight saving.

Overall

This goes some way to explaining my feelings towards Tesla. The Model S and X may be fast, but they’re years away from capturing the hearts of true enthusiasts. They may put a Porsche to shame over a quarter of a mile but what would you spend a day lapping a track in? Straight line speed is fun, but cornering takes skill and an understanding between the car and driver.

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