They weigh less than steel brakes and don’t wear out anything like as fast, so why am I still not convinced that carbon ceramic brakes are the way to go for the average high performance road car?
Two reasons: price and feel.
The price issue seems especially hard to justify. Most car companies that offer carbon ceramic discs as extras tend to charge around 10 grand for the privilege. Yet I watched an interview during free practice one for the F1 race at Monza last weekend, during which the head technician from AP Racing stated that a set of carbon brakes for an F1 car cost just £5000. So how come they cost twice that for a road car?
Secondly, the lack of feel at low speed that tends to go hand in hand with carbon ceramic brakes is, depending which manufacturer you’re talking about, either bad, dreadful or not really a problem.
Porsche and Ferrari have got this particular issue pretty much licked: most if not all their respective cars fitted with ceramic discs manage to respond crisply underfoot, no matter how slowly (or fast) you may be traveling. But the last time I tried a McLaren fitted with £9770 of optional carbon discs, for instance, the pedal response at low speed wasn’t great.
There was a dead patch under light braking that was/is strangely typical of the breed. And the first time you experience it, and subsequently stand the nose into the floor because you panic then brake way too hard, you might well wonder where your 10 grand has gone.
On the other hand, if you do lots of track days and like to drive like a mad person on the public road – and also like to boast about the fact that your car has “the same brakes as a Formula One car” – carbon ceramics are probably worth the investment.
Mostly, though, I reckon they’re for people who have a slightly wonky sense-to-money ratio.
And ultimately, you could even argue that carbon ceramic discs are little more than a tidy earner for the car manufacturers – although in Ferrari’s case it is admirable that they come as standard, no matter what.