Could Porsche be abandoning the quest for ever-more horsepower?
In recent years, the automotive horsepower race has brought the type of under-bonnet grunt to the masses that would previously have been unheard of. From hypercars that now regularly nudge at or even surpass 1000bhp to hot hatchbacks threatening the 400bhp mark, manufacturers have been threatening each other with ever-increasing amounts of thrust from each new vehicle that emerges from the design studio.
It’s all getting a bit silly, especially when the vast majority of these cars will be driven mostly on the road. No one can use north of 500bhp on public streets; those that reckon they can should be swiftly re-educated or have their licenses revoked.
To get the most out of driving, you need tactility. Emotion. A feeling of agility through the corners, and responsiveness through feet and hands. Think rapier, think precision instrument. Sure, it’s fun to wield the sledgehammer of power from time to time, but ultimately monster horsepower at the expense of balance is a one-trick pony.
When will this arms race end? Who will be first to throw caution to the wind?
Well, it looks like it could be Porsche. Andreas Preuninger, head of Porsche’s GT division, told the UK’s Car magazine: “I’m not a believer in this horsepower monster, up, up, up, more, more, more. For my personal tastes, around 500bhp is enough, because 700-800bhp calls for bigger brakes, sturdier suspension, it gets heavier and heavier logically.”
Preuninger stops short of saying that the next GT and RS models would come down in power, but he suggests that, as far as Porsche is concerned, the horsepower war is one no longer worth fighting.
This is to be welcomed. Recent years have seen performance cars get larger and heavier, so requiring more and more admittedly-clever engineering to keep the feeling that drivers want. But you can’t fight physics. Preuninger’s assertions, coupled with the increased focus on lightweight technologies across the industry, brings hope that sports cars won’t, in a decade time, have 1500bhp but weigh north of two tonnes. There’s no engineering in the world that could make such a machine as fun to drive as something light, boasting only as much power as it needs.
Let’s hope that other manufacturers are starting to think along similar lines.