How Fast is Fast Enough?
I remember when the Ferrari F430 was released in 2004. As the model replacing the 360 Modena, it moved the game on significantly with the first instalment of Ferrari's ‘Manettino’ switch on the steering wheel and its far more sophisticated paddle-shift gear box, amongst other things. With 483bhp it was no longer a ‘baby’ Ferrari and would run with anything this side of a monster R34 Skyline. I don’t remember many negative comments circling around magazines and forums about the 430.
Fast forward only nine years and the performance and speed offered by the Fezza is laughed at by the German super saloons. Leading this group of galactic wagons is Mercedes, and also the main inspiration for this article. Watching a review of the new E63 AMG the other day made me realise just how fast this power game moves forward. The face-lifted Merc now sends 577 – yes that’s pretty much 100 more than the F430 – to its rear wheels in the UK. ‘4Matic’ four wheel drive is available on the continent, but due to our right hand drive needs, we get the pleasure of managing more power than a modern Italian supercar has with two wheel drive.
My question, then, is this: when is this power hiking going to end? I am by no means complaining, I think it is fantastic that you can experience such performance without compromising any practicality at all. However it doesn’t seem all that sustainable. Each new incarnation of a model comes with more power than the last, which can’t carry on forever. I can only think weight will continue to come down and as technology advances further in terms of gear boxes, engine management and stability aids, performance can carry on improving without the bhp figure rising, too.
With the rate of progress we have seen in the last 10 to 15 years, you can expect to see the next M5 or E63 to chuck out well over 600bhp. If you’d have said a large saloon capable of carrying a family and their pet to France would have more power than a 575M or a Murcielago, my first thought would have been ‘where did you get those pills?’ But at the same time, I’m sure they will be returning 30+mpg, which you can’t knock for the level of performance you get from such a machine.
It will definitely be interesting to see where the need for more power leads. Something to keep your eye on no doubt.