30 Jan 2013

Power - Can you ever have too much?

There’s an old saying “Absolute power corrupts."  Just watch Jeremy Clarkson on a Sunday night to see a graphic demonstration of this theory.

First off, lets understand what power actually is.  Power, as we understand it, is the combination or torque (the ability to accelerate to speed) and power (the ability to maintain a speed).  The Power most people describe is actually torque, that thrust in the back you feel when you put your foot down.

Lets take a great example of the above saying - the Mercedes SLS AMG, 560-odd bhp and 470-odd ft/lb of torque.  Not astounding figures on their own.  I mean, the same kind of numbers come from the Gallardo Superleggera, but the way the SLS uses its power is spectacular to say the least.  In fact if I’m honest the SLS seems primarily designed for 2 reasons; 1) putting a massive terror-tinted grin on the drivers face and, 2) turning very expensive sticky rear tyres into smoke and noise.

On the other side of this is the aforementioned Gallardo Superleggera - a lightweight, sharp Italian 4-wheel drive track day car that uses its power in a totally different way to the SLS.  It precisely delivers it's power and torque through a basic 4wd system, maintaining maximum levels of grip at all times to deliver a very quick driver experience and you still have enough tread on the rear tyres to get home again.

So, in essence, the point I’m making is the answer to the original question is no.  A good example of this is the Pagani Hauyra - 730bhp and the fastest road legal car to ever lap the Top Gear test track, and by a margin too, so power, if harnessed properly, is a very good thing.

But, just to balance this out, let’s welcome the original Vauxhall Astra VXR.  240bhp front wheel drive and a very understeery chassis, a perfect example of how not to use power.  This car, as is well documented, wastes nearly all of its power through understeer and wheelspin (with the traction control off of course.  With it on, it just misfires every time you put your foot down as the electronics cut in).

So, to give my conclusive answer to the question. NO you can’t have too much power - you just need to be able to use it properly. After all with 8500bhp, a top fuel dragster can accelerate with the force of 7G, cover a ¼ mile in 3.5 seconds with a top speed of over 300mph, so lastly all I have to say is, POWER ROCKS.

Article by 'Tash'