The phrase “the horsepower wars” is one that’s only really been properly established over the last decade or so. The release of the Bugatti Veyron humbled the more mainstream supercar industry, while acting as a catalyst for smaller companies who saw it as an opportunity to get themselves on the map. The result was a torrent of horrendously engineered death-traps built to give the companies behind them the media attention that came from outpacing the fastest car in the world in some way or another.
That is the very essence of the horsepower wars: makers building outrageously powerful cars in order to duff up their competition. And nowadays, with everyone trying to better everybody else, something which you can only describe as a perpetual conflict with no resolution ensues.
The trouble with focusing your battle purely on horsepower is when everything that is most important in a car is neglected in favour of absolute performance. For it is not how hard acceleration can squeeze your spine against the back of the seat that makes driving great - it’s the process, the involvement, and the fun. Power is not always proportional to pleasure. And from my perspective, a 493bhp Porsche 991.2 GT3 is miles more pleasurable to drive than, let’s say, a 1887bhp Rimac C_Two.
Don’t get me wrong, powerful megacars are something at which we are all duty bound to kneel and worship. They are the purveyors of performance beyond any descriptive power, and a source of immense wonderment. But such machines are not necessarily where the happiest driving memories are made.
Due to how each and every automotive genre is in a state of constant evolution and competition, it means that the point of maximum enjoyment in cars is trickling down the hierarchy. While that may be something of a blessing for people looking to one day afford a car that’ll bring them huge amounts of pleasure, it also speaks ill of the churlish power ladder manufacturers are climbing.
It’s like a game of hop-scotch where everybody playing attempts to jump to the next highest number above the one that’s already occupied. Everything that’s most important is forgotten in favour of the number. And that is the trouble with the horsepower wars in a nutshell.
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