"Faster, faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death . . . " -- Hunter S. Thompson
In a recent post, we talked about average cars becoming so good that it was getting harder to differentiate them from the luxury brands. Well, the high-end makers are finding a way out . . . and it is horsepower. Says The Wall Street Journal's Joe White: "In an era when a car’s appeal seems largely defined by greener-than-thou engines and cooler-than-thou infotainment apps, luxury auto makers are looking for buyers who value a decidedly more old-fashioned attribute: hard-driving horsepower."
But while those gilt-edged ponies, usually somewhere in the 400-600 range, are out of reach for many people, the price is clearly coming down with the debut of the Hellcat at around $60,000 for a 0-100-0 time under 13 seconds and a 204-mph top speed. The question is where all of this power will be used, save for the track. In our congested suburb, it's not all that unusual to see a 500+ horsepower Mercedes AMG or Bentley Continental GT toodling along at 30 mph. Even our weekend sports car -- never tracked -- has trouble breaking its average of 32 in the 'burbs.
Where will it all end? U.S. government fuel mileage regs are becoming more stringent as greater efforts are underway to address climate change. Speed-related fatalities still represent a third of all annual U.S. highway traffic deaths. Owners are usually not trained to deal with these amounts of speed. And yet, the horsepower still keeps coming. The question now is whether GM and Ford will sit on their hands or challenge Chrysler's supremacy by fielding a mega-Camaro and ultra-Mustang.
Bench racing: Bragging more about your car's horsepower than actually using it.