Too Much Power? Really?

It’s only happened once — I walked out of a movie barely half an hour in. I’d had enough of it. The performances were fatigued and the plot was scattered. I couldn’t muster enough courage to sit all the way through. 

Howbeit, I have walked out of a movie midway more than a few times because of shouting, howling kids in the movie hall. There’s really no end to their unruliness. They are a horror and I hate such kind with a passion. Their parents even more so. I’m not alone in this — it visibly affects every single person around. There doesn’t seem any limit to how much such devils can spoil a cinematic experience. But there’s a limit to how much one can tolerate.  

I drove out — tyres bargaining with the engine in a desperate effort to find some traction. A while later, I settled in a steady cruise and was enjoying the drive. The mood had turned over.

This is what driving can do — make you forget even the most unpleasant experiences and form a smile on your face. But that smile can turn into a worrisome frown if the recipe isn’t right. Fidgety suspension, improper gearing, vague steering — it takes only one thing to not be right for things to wrong. 

About eight-or-so years ago I drove a Ferrari F430. Not just any F430 — this one was tuned to 700+ horsepower. It was violent in every way. The engine felt barbaric — impatient to smash your head into a wall. The otherwise fantastic chassis felt humiliated by it. And I looked like I’d had bathed in my own sweat. 

Driving that monstrosity was a tiring work-out. Thought I’d make notes after my time driving it but my hands were trembling till well beyond a week from that day. 

And that’s when I’d questioned — just how much is too much power? 

I’ve heard and read a lot of people complaining that cars these days are becoming irrationally powerful. But there’s a peculiar thing about progress — it usually makes things better. 

The 330i from BMW is a fantastic regular car. About 260 horsepower and 400 torques — it’ll sprint to hundred in under-six seconds. That seems more than plenty fast for a daily if you enjoy being behind the wheel. For the more focused power devotees there’re always things from BMW’s M division to pick from. I’d pick the M2 Competition in a heartbeat. There’s the small issue of money, but I’m sure a robbery will sort that out. 

The debate around too much power should be reserved for the absolute supercars — the ones at the top. And the electric hypercars that are coming out every 2 weeks. 

Things should really be about ‘usable power’. It’s more fun to be able to extract most of a car’s power rather than drive using 30% of the engine’s capability. You’ll probably never be able to use last of the pleasurable 800 horses of a McLaren Senna, but you can put down a large amount of its total power on the road in something like the Octavia vRS for example. 

But there’s a small hurdle — it’s called road. This thing — road — is quite important. You drive on it, after all. But more often than not, across a large part of land, roads are traffic infested and badly built. With anything other than a track day — a rare event in itself — chances of properly driving and enjoying a car are pretty bleak unless you own a whole mountain range and have carved out amazing blacktop around it. 

The point, however, was around power. I believe there’s nothing like too much power till the time it’s managed well. Supercars will always be ‘super’ — the shameless pursuit of power figures, exotic materials, otherworldly performance are exactly the things that make them so. It’s the more mainstream performance cars that matter and the most ordinary ones even more so. Such cars bring masses into the fold of driving enjoyment.

The most crucial link to enjoyment is the driver. Some are more naturally gifted than others, some learn to get better. But you really have to be good at driving to enjoy it. And when you do, you learn to appreciate power — whatever amount there is.

So what I mean is that if you can adjust to the excessiveness around — if you can learn to live with it — even that crying, howling kid in the theatre would be tolerable.

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