Should supercars be easy to drive?

Just because they can be easy does not necessarily mean they should be.

11w ago

I suspect there are few activities more thrilling than lion hunting.

Next to injecting heroin, putting one’s life on the line to tackle one of Mother Nature’s apex predators must provide quite the adrenaline rush.

Nonetheless, I have often thought that if one were serious about testing their mettle then they should retire the security offered by firearms and Land Rovers and go at it alone with their bare hands. After all, what defence does a lion have against a bullet travelling 2,600 feet per second? Hardly a respectable match, if you ask me.

So-called ‘Big Game’ hunters are nothing more than cowards. To paint them as anything else is terribly misguided.

Which leads me to the McLaren 756LT.

I recently read a review of the 765LT which suggested that it may be “too much: too much power, too much speed, too much to keep up with”. While the time I have spent in the driver’s seat of a McLaren 765LT matches the time I have spent stalking lions in the African savanna, I cannot help but feel they missed the point.

Should supercars be easy to drive? I am not asking whether supercars can be easy to drive. The latter is a question of plausibility, one I know to be true. The former, however, is a question of permissibility. There is a difference.

When the Porsche 930 Turbo was released in 1975 it was promptly branded the ‘widowmaker’. And for good reason: it was a bloodthirsty machine hellbent on hospitalising anyone who took the reins. That was its brilliance. Remember, the 930 Turbo initially had just 193kW (260bhp). Or less than Toyota’s GR Yaris hatchback. Oh, how things have changed.

Groundbreaking developments in driver-aids and tyre technology have enabled manufacturers to push the performance envelope to new heights. Face-tearing acceleration figures, once the reserve of fully-fledged hot rods, are now being achieved by Bob the accountant in his Tesla on the way to work. Long, flowing drifts are as easy as twiddling your Ferrari’s manettino then letting the car sort out the rest (alright, not quite, but you get the picture). Technology has turned mortals into driving gods.

TL;DR: Supercars have become suck-ups and people have become soft.

To see the extent of this change, just look at the 930’s modern-day successor, the 992-series 911 Turbo. Here is a car with well over 600bhp (641bhp, to be precise), is capable of sprinting from 0-100km/h in under 3 seconds, and yet is no more taxing to drive than a Golf GTI. Indeed, when Chris Harris drove it for the first time he praised it for its exciting blend of “ruthless speed” and “endlessly engaging” handling, and in the very same breath declared it “unintimidating”. That last adjective troubled me.

Manufacturers should care less about flattering drivers and instead focus on producing dragons worthy to be slain...

David v Goliath

Admittedly, my supercar-driving resume is not exactly comprehensive. Hence this essay’s premise depends on the honesty and integrity of reports from automotive journalists the world over. Nonetheless, it seems to me that far too many supercars have become easy to drive in a bid to flatter their cashed-up owners. As a consequence, people have become increasingly flippant when referring to such mesmeric machines. This is particularly evident when people gripe that the latest supercar has “only” 500bhp or cannot manage 0-100km/h in under 3.5 seconds.

I am not for a moment suggesting that supercars should be suicidal to drive. Airbags, traction control, and stability programs are, emphatically, Very Good Things. You do not want to be slithering about uncontrollably when tootling through town. I am, however, suggesting that manufacturers should care less about flattering drivers at the limit of adhesion and should instead focus on producing dragons worthy to be slain. Advanced driver aids have infused drivers with a false sense of reality.

Upon driving the McLaren 765LT, American journalist, Matt Farah, exclaimed, “McLaren probably shouldn’t be allowed to sell this car to regular people.” He went on to clarify:

“State authorities probably should set up some sort of tiered licensing system, whereby people who want to drive a thinly disguised race car on public thoroughfares will need a bit of extra training and certification.”

Whether he was speaking literally or merely emphasising the big Mac’s license-shredding performance matters not. People need to be aware that when they purchase a supercar, they are — to put it bluntly — taking ownership of a road-going weapon.

Fifteenth-century French moralist, Francois De La Rochefoucauld, put it best when he said, “Flattery is a sort of bad money to which our vanity gives currency.”

Maybe the 765LT isn’t “too much”. Perhaps other supercars are simply too easy.

What do you think? Get shouting in the comments below!

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Comments (73)

  • I take to old school Lamborghini approach. They a should be scary and bite.

      2 months ago
    • I concur, Richard. I'd much rather something to wrestle and tame.

        2 months ago
    • However, I remember driving an early 930 and it was one of the most frustrating cars I’ve ever driven. I nailed about 1 corner in 10 and spent the others either going way too slow, or with armfuls of opposite lock crapping myself. It wasn’t...

      Read more
        2 months ago
  • I agree, supercars should be like the GMA T.50. But, the biggest reason why others aren't making cars like this is probably because most (not all) customers are too lazy to put in the effort of changing gears themselves, and enjoying the driving experience. That's a real shame, because it takes away the 'super' in a 'supercar'. Amazing article!

      2 months ago
  • And you're confident Hades didn't coax you into writing this article?

      2 months ago
  • I'm sure you've noticed the countless amounts of supercars getting trashed on public roads. The only way these manufacturers survive nowadays is to cater to the lowest common denominator. Unfortunately that leaves their products open to anyone who can afford such machinery.

    I completely agree whenever you do have the means to purchase something such as this, you should be given a mandatory course and instruction on how to operate your vehicle. At least a week, if not 2, on how to properly operate and extract the performance the vehicle is capable of.

    Otherwise, said person is purchasing this as a status symbol. Which is about 90% of all their clientele. C'est la Vie...

      2 months ago
    • "The only way these manufacturers survive nowadays is to cater to the lowest common denominator." -- This pains me to read, but I suspect that you are entirely correct.

      Great comment.

        2 months ago
  • Back in the olden days, even as close as two decades in the past, Supercar experience meant struggle and exhaustion and not comfort or luxury. But this was also when real drivers existed.

    I do not claim to have any Supercar experience of sorts, but i highly agree, things should be more thrilling and engaging than going from simply easy to simply scary with the press of a pedal. And it may not feel as scary once you've known how well the computers will handle things, unlike a raw car where you are responsible each second.

    I believe this is the case with pretty much all cars by now.

      2 months ago
    • I like the way you think, mate.

        2 months ago
    • That's exactly how it should be. There should be nothing easy or comfortable about the experience. Not long ago, driving a ferrari or lambo was for the driving experience, not just raw speed.

        2 months ago