True petrolheads will be OK with the 2030 combustion engine ban
Things were going downhill anyway
Yesterday the British Prime Minister outlined plans to bring forward the UK's ban of combustion-powered cars from 2040 to 2030. This means car makers won't be able to sell petrol or diesel powered cars and vans from 2030 – though it's likely plug-in hybrids with a decent electric-only range will remain on sale until 2035.
This news has evoked a mountain of Internet Rage from petrolheads. After all, modern petrol engines are the lifeblood of our passion, aren't they?
I'd argue that they're not, and haven't been for some time – and that the ban on petrol engines really isn't that big a deal for enthusiasts.
When did you last drive a properly amazing combustion engine?
The sad fact is that modern petrol engines are already on a one-way trip to Dullsville. In the past two years alone we've seen some of the industry's most vaunted petrol engines castrated by emissions regulations in one way or another. Petrol particulate filters are a great way of cleaning up tailpipe emissions, but they've also turned an Audi R8's 5.2-litre V10 from a soaring soprano into a geriatric church hall choir with a bit of a sniffle.
Jump from a pre-facelift 2016 R8 and bang it through the gears and I can guarantee you'll feel some sort of juicy tingle in your loins. Do the same in the post-facelift car and you'll think you've got wax in your ears. The pops, bangs and searing treble notes have mostly gone. It's still a fantastic engine, but it doesn't sound half as glorious as it used to. Even the mighty naturally aspirated Porsche six-cylinder hasn't escaped the Great Muffling.
Pre-facelift R8s sound a lot better than this, the current-gen car
The down-sizing of engines for emissions reasons has also made cars less exciting to drive. We're now at an age where the most exciting car of the year – the Toyota GR Yaris – has an engine you could only really describe by saying, "It makes you go fast while making some sort of noise". A naturally aspirated and zingy four-cylinder engine from the 2000s wouldn't keep up in terms of power, but it'd make you grin even more.
Sure, turbocharging is making cars faster at the same time as reducing whatever bad things it's meant to reduce, but that's another problem of its own. Try wringing a BMW M2 CS out through the gears on a UK road and see how your love of the (muffled) noise at 7,000rpm competes with your need to keep a driving licence.
Isn't this just an old-man whinge?
Probably. I am quite an old man.
But the point remains that in 10 years time when the ban kicks in, things will be even worse than they are now.
We won't be whinging about losing a few pops and bangs from an Audi R8, because we'll be fully accustomed to driving such delights as a four-cylinder Mercedes-AMG C63.
And 10 years is an absolute age in terms of even stricter emissions regulations. If you can think of a technology that'll remove the fun from thrashing an engine, it'll probably be full-on legislation by 2030 anyway. Bureaucrats will probably find a way to outlaw remaps or, I don't know, instigating 700rpm rev limiters when in neutral.
Let's be honest – the future of the petrol engine is pretty bleak. So it's time to find solace in electric performance cars. Which can undoubtedly be entertaining.
For starters, I recommend hammering a Porsche Taycan into a roundabout at 70mph and seeing if that doesn't put a smile on your face and a whiff in your seat.
And even if that doesn't do the trick, you can always just keep hold of your current petrol car. Methinks values of 2016 Audi R8s are going to soar right around December 2029…