Opinion: There should be a horsepower limit for all new cars

Tons of power doesn’t equal tons of fun. You know it makes sense

I spend way too much time thinking about it. When I am finally appointed supreme overlord of planet earth with special responsibility for transportation, what will be the first law I pass? (delusional egoist? Moi?)

Instant exile for anyone with their fog lights on when it’s bright and sunny outside, obvious. Instant exile for anyone who leaves their car parked parallel with the front wheels not straight. But I have a new law on my list recently, and it’s a big problem: a horsepower limit for all cars. A strict restriction, for all new cars, anywhere in the world. Supercars, sports cars, no exception.

What I know might sound a bit draconian and funny, but I think it would be the opposite. A horsepower limit is just what the world of fast cars needs. Not for ecological reasons, but for reasons of driving pleasure. It is well known that there is far too much horsepower sloshing around at the moment. And horsepower is heavy. Not just the engines to generate the stuff, but the brakes and suspension to contain it. Hit a horsepower limit and manufacturers could use all that development capital and intelligence to make their cars easier and more interesting to drive.

The question is how accurate should this PS limit be? Again, since my appointment as Supreme Commander currently looks far from guaranteed, I’ve spent far too long agonizing over the exact number. And then I remembered: There is a historical precedent here! Because from the late eighties to the mid-noughties, Japanese manufacturers had a so-called “gentleman’s agreement” not to sell cars with more than 276 hp – at least in their home market.

Officially at least, this agreement had nothing to do with promoting innovation, but only with demonstrating the car manufacturers’ great concern for road safety. It’s not clear how they settled on exactly 276hp as the golden number, which with Japanese cars of 275hp still has the ability to make a nasty mess of anything they collide with.

But I think 276 hp might be a tough number. Fast enough for reasonable speed, rigorous enough to require reasonable innovation. And if you think that’s not enough to rip off any real performance, remember: 276 hp is pretty much the exact output of the original BAC Mono. I rode the original BAC Mono and can report that it wasn’t what you would call “underpowered”. And yes, the Mono was a single seater, 560kg street racer, but tell me if Ferrari or McLaren took a lot of money on R&D that they spend on getting more and more performance out of their powertrains they could don’t they invent a two-seater supercar that weighs less than 600 kg?

Forget the inevitable 1,200hp, 1,600kg hyper-hybrid that will follow the SF90: how much do you want to see what a half-ton Ferrari supercar looks like? And how much do you want to drive it?

#Opinion #horsepower #limit #cars

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