Real Performance for Your Dollar
Ford Mustang GT500. Supercharged 5.4L V8 from the Ford GT with 500hp and 480lb-ft of torque. A monster right? Wrong. A 4.5s 0-60 is too slow for a 500hp car. That is what 3,920 lbs worth of God only knows what will do to your car. That is 1960’s performance numbers, not 21st century ones. A collector’s car it may be, but it doesn’t fit well with the new age performance battle. People call everything these days a horsepower war. What? It isn’t a horsepower war, it is a performance war. It doesn’t matter how many horses you’ve got under the hood, it’s what you and the car can do with them.
Corvette Z06. 7.0L V8 featuring 505hp with 470lb-ft of torque. 0-60- 3.4s; now that is impressive. It only weighs 3,162 lbs. The Z06 performs as well as cars twice and three times as much, with its powerful engine and low weight.
But let us add another character to the mix. 3,704 lbs and 3,726 lbs respectively. 4.0L V8 with 414hp and 295lb-ft of torque. Yes, I am talking of the new BMW M3. 0-60 in 4.1s for both coupe and sedan form. How does BMW push so much performance out of such a small engine? Well they have been doing that for years. The current M3 beats up on the RS4, Lexus IS-F and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. Each car has more horsepower and torque. But BMW makes do with its engine and the aerodynamics of the car.
In today’s world bigger is better. The bigger the engine, the better the sound. But now it has changed ever so amazingly. It doesn’t matter if you have a V12, V10, V8, V6, Inline 6 or even a 4-banger. You can still produce enough power to perform better than most of the cars out there. Go ask Nissan how they made the new 3.3s 0-60 GT-R with 480hp or so from a 3.8L Twin-Turbo V6, that weighs, now get this, 3,800 lbs. How does this happen you ask? Easy, it’s called engine efficiency and aerodynamics. The new GT-R beats up on the Corvette Z06 and the Porsche 911 Turbo because that is what it was meant to do. All of the older generations of the GT-R were great, but this car was engineered to be bigger, heavier and still better. It is what the Japanese have been doing lately. Making more with less.
Car companies today can make big gains in performance from lower horsepower and heavier weight, due to how much performance they can squeeze from their engines #1, and #2 how efficient the engine can be at extreme levels of temperature, movement and the likes. Cars are increasingly getting heavier, and we have seen this because of regulations for safety. Now thanks to the CAFE standards, the automotive world will have to make more of smaller engines and higher cost, weight saving materials. Don’t expect the Corvette or the Mustang to be carrying any more weight than they already are, and should I say don’t expect big Detroit muscle either? Only time will tell on that.
The Europeans have always been doing more with less. While the American crowd is still saying that there is no replacement for displacement, while they are right, “the times, they are a-changin’” as Dylan said. Corvette has already said they are looking at turbo and supercharging for the next C7, and looking for smaller displacement and more carbon fiber. It’s easy to say that the good ole’ days of strictly fiberglass Corvette’s is over.
Why though, are the Germans and the Japanese making due with more weight and less power? It’s just like I said, it is all about the efficiency of the engine and the aerodynamics of the car. You can have a car that weighs 3500-4000 lbs complete a 3.3s-4.5s 0-60, simply because the engine pushes it well enough at first to cut through the air, and then the air goes along and smoothly floats past the car, thanks to the aerodynamic engineering and ingenuity. You have to have smooth lines, and places for the wind to flow along, not get hung up on. The drag coefficient of a sports car is just as important as the horsepower that lights the tires up.
Let us not forget though, the driver accounts for a lot of the performance capabilities of the car. Now with modern electronic aides, I can rocket a 599 GTB Fiorano with the F1 transmission to 60 mph and above in about the same time that Michael Schumacher can. This is all to do with the computers that shift the gears faster than I could manually, stiffens and softens the suspension and dampers depending on current conditions and controls the differential as well. But, if we start to go around turns, I couldn’t extract have the amount of ability out of the 599 as Schumi could. As much as I would love to say that I could, I can’t, and neither can you.
So remember when you are going to buy your next sports car, sports sedan or whatever you are going to get, check not just the performance of the car from what the factory says, look at the weight, the feel to you, the lines of the car. Put that all together, add in the amount of power it puts down, and bam, you have your performance car. To me personally there is no reason why a Mustang GT500 should be only .2s quicker to 60 than a 3373 lb BMW 135i. No replacement for displacement you say? Well I say there is no replacement for creativity, ingenuity and true engineering done on the track, to make a car better than its competition.
Remember guys, always drive safely. I have been witnessing a lot of reckless and foolish driving lately. Let’s keep the roads safe, and maybe, just maybe, we can finally get roads that are worth it to drive on, and roads that have a higher speed limit. A license is a privilege, not a right.
Remember to keep checking out my blogs on BMWBlog.com. Soon you will see more videos of me with cars, and news features. Also, don’t forget to check out the forum. It is up and running, and waiting for you to introduce yourself.
Photos courtesy of: Mustang GT500, Corvette Z06, BMW M3, Nissan GT-R
Real Performance for Your Dollar