Monday, March 16, 2009

Come on manufacturers

Whenever a new car is out, be it a supercar or a sports car, the manufacturers are quick to sing praises of its zillion horsepower capability and its nought-to-hundred times. I’m passionate about automobiles and I make it a point to read automotive news from a variety of sources. Now I’m getting a bit tired about all these “it smokes to 100 in less than 5 seconds and has a monstrous 500 Nm torque” things. I mean a Ferrari  F430 can do 0-100 in about 4.5 odd seconds. A Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder can do 0-100 in 4.5 odd seconds. A Porsche 911 Turbo can do 0-100 in 4.5 odd seconds. A BMW M5 can do 0-100 in just under 4.5 seconds. An M3 can do 0-100 in just over 4.5 seconds. A Chevrolet Corvette C6 can do 0-100 in about 4.5 seconds. The Audi TT RS can do 0-100 in about 4.5 seconds. An Audi RS6 Avant, a station wagon for the love of God, does the same 0-100 in about 4.5 seconds. I hope you see how little the numbers tell us the story: a luxury sports saloon (M5), a people carrier (RS6 Avant), a track tool (F430) all just about share the same times. Each car mentioned above is unique in its own way and the 0-100 times tell absolutely nothing about their character. I think it’s just plain pointless all this numbers thing. Numbers, for me, explain only a very little part of the car; they're definitely not telling anything about the uniqueness of the car unless you’re comparing an eco-box to a sport sedan. Leelakrishnan can tune pretty much any car to do 0-100 in 4.5 seconds. It’s nothing different to talking about top speeds of European performance cars when you know that all are speed limited to 155 mph.

My point is that the manufacturers of performance cars, sports cars and supercars should talk more about what their car can do in addition to the usual, engine muscle stuff. Talk about the skidpad times. Talk about the slalom times. Measure how stable your car is in a corner of such and such radius at such and such speed, normalize it with your rival cars and post it. Do a stint of 20 laps in a race track and boast (with numbers) how consistent your tyres and brakes are. Testers rate how a car feels on the limit. For example, the Veyron is said to be so much more stable at 320 kph than, say, an SLR. I ask the manufacturers to quantify the so called feel. Now that sort of a quantification of a wide range of performance parameters will help a 430 Scuderia owner laugh off a ZR1 owner.  There are so many other factors that can help the discerning customer feel good about the choice of his exorbitantly expensive wheels.

Car and Driver recently tested a Corvette ZR1 and says it does 0-100 in less than 4 seconds. How is Ferrari (or Lamborghini or Porsche) going to tell normal people like me that its car is so much better than the Chevy?

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Anonymous said...

I go along with what you say. Sadly, all but a few look for the performance figures when they study a car. Aw, Heck! Only those who are earnest auto buffs are athirst for almost everything rite from the aero package of the car to the material of the tyres.

S R I R A M said...

And I hope for the sake of those people manufacturers start comparing their cars in a variety of parameters.

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