This new Ferrari's 789bhp output is shocking, but only for now
Matt Prior
10 March 2017

Ah, welcome,  Ferrari 812 Superfast.

You’ll be the new Ferrari, won’t you? Your CV suggests you’re super, and I have no doubt believing you’re almost certainly fast. Sit down, make yourself comfortable, and answer me this: how much, exactly, is too much? Power, I mean. I always thought your predecessor, the F12, had a more than ample 730bhp. Then the F12 tdf turned up with 770bhp. And now you sit here, placing 789bhp on the table, while reassuring me that this unending power growth is absolutely fine. So, where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Honestly, dear reader, where does it all stop? Sometimes in the media we confidently predict that a certain power output will be the end of things. The pinnacle. The ultimate. The McLaren F1. The Bugatti Veyron. And then what happens?

An everyday McLaren rocks up with more power than an F1, and there’s about to be a new Bugatti with 1492bhp – almost 50% more than the first Veyron. It’s time to admit that we were wrong and that there won’t be an end to it. Don’t get too used to the 812’s 789bhp. Not because it represents an apogee from which we’ll sensibly return, but because 800bhp is right around the corner.

It turns out that cars, you see, just mirror life, where unending growth, power and complexity are the overriding trends. With due apologies to any creationists, once we were amoeba, yet now many of us stand over six feet tall. The first computers used to crack wartime codes were the size of rooms, but add all the computing power of every wartime computer together and you’d barely have enough oomph to play a video of a cat falling off a shelf.

Power growth is all around us, and it has been since the dawn of times. How many calories do you – dear reader, not Ferrari – consume a day? I wouldn’t like to guess (you’re looking well), but I’ll bet it will be more than the average of, say, 100 years ago. The thrust of an Airbus A380 knocks aside anything Louis Blériot would likely have imagined. More power. More force. More lifeis as inevitable as the arrival of the morning sun.

The average family car? Thirty years ago a middling Ford Escort would have had 74bhp from a 1.4-litre engine. Today you could comfortably double that. As recent as 1991, a luxury car like a Mercedes-Benz S-Class with a 5.0-litre engine made around 250bhp and 288lb ft. Today you can buy an S-Class with almost as much power as a McLaren F1 – enough to make a Vauxhall Lotus Carlton feel like a pram. The Carlton once offended the world; today nobody is outraged that a Tesla Model S can give you, silently, 603bhp and 713lb ft.

I once asked a Lamborghini engineer how much was too much. There is no figure, he said. Acceleration at low speed is already limited by traction; more power gives you better acceleration at high speed. And if that much speed all sounds a bit hairy? Well, there’s more computing power to deal with it and more efficiency and complexity to mean it doesn’t consume the planet at an any greater rate.

So, frankly, we had better get used to it. And look forward, I suppose, to the day when your average family hatchback will have 500bhp.

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Comments
16

10 March 2017
To put it simply, acceleration and power - in combination with aerodynamic traction aids -- facilitating acceleration and g levels so substantive; that people ride in 'em rather than driving, as necessary reaction times shall probably become greater than human mind is capable off. So future of super cars, hyper expensive joyrides.

12 March 2017
There are only three sorts of power. 1. Not enough power. 2. Enough power. 3. More than enough power. There is no such thing as 'too much power', that is why cars come equipped with a throttle, not a switch, so you can use as much power as you need. Sometimes you can call on more than you need for fun, but it is wasteful.

10 March 2017
The question is how much power is too much? The narrative doesn't address the question, it's just notes power levels have increased across the board; it doesn't offer any opinion as to whether we are at or have passed any sensible threshold. Even the suggestion that "the average family hatchback" (itself an oxymoron) "will have 500 bhp [sic]" is offered without the obvious caveat - it will be uninsurable by its "average" and average income driver. A shame because the question is a good one against a backdrop of BHP lunacy. My next door neighbour owns an SL65 AMG; he doesn't use it in the winter months because as he puts it, the traction control just lights up all the time - as it might as the electronics struggle with 738 lb ft and 621 ponies. Too much? If you're paying top dollar for something unusable then I'd say so.

10 March 2017
We are addicted to power, when in truth the fun in driving a car has far more to do with communication, and the feeling that you are part of the machine, not just a passenger. Yet cars get heavier, tyres get wider, power goes up....... But driving pleasure decreases. Less weight, narrower tyres, a manual gearbox, no electronic to interfere would all help. If you can get the weight down enough, and the tyres narrow enough you can even dump power assisted steering. Yet when Toyota and Subaru go a long way down that route with the GT86, no one buys it. All most people who buy a performance car want is big power, so we get what we deserve. Sad isnt it

10 March 2017
Autocar has news about the forthcoming BMW M5 today, which will have 4WD to harness its 600bhp. To me, this suggests the car now has too much power. M Division was never about 4WD was it?

10 March 2017
If carrying passengers particularly children, then enough power for about an 8 second 0 to 60 is enough. Instead of chasing power, I wish they would devote as much time and energy to chasing comfort. Why are £40k cars of today less comfortable than 40 year old Citroëns, Renaults and Peugeots.

 

10 March 2017
Christian Von Koenigsegg just said that the One:1 can spin it's wheels accelerating at 186mph if it wasn't for the traction control keeping it in check. So I think 1340bhp is around about 'too much'.

10 March 2017
For road driving, far more important than peak power is peak torque and the spread

10 March 2017
For road driving, far more important than peak power is peak torque and the spread

10 March 2017
Well....perhaps that wasn't strictly true for charming fellows like one Mr A Hitler or Mr J Stalin but when it comes to BHP then that stuff is truly a means to an end, NOT an end in itself. I want 'power' to make my journey highly enjoyable which might not include paying preposterous quantities on insurance and fuel and risking my licence to boot. Having power beyond the capabilities of tyre, road conditions, driver and/or the law is surely a fool's errand...?

BertoniBertone

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