I don't know if you've noticed, but cars keep getting bigger and heavier. There's no mystery to it; safety became a selling point, and airbags and energy-absorbing crash structures take up room and add weight. Naturally, we would expect that power would increase along with mass to prevent next year's model from being slower than this year's, but they're actually getting faster, too.

Consider the Golf GTI. When it launched in 1976, it had 110hp (81kW) and took 9.2 seconds to reach 62mph (100km/h). The 2018 version is exactly twice as powerful (220hp/162kW) and takes just 6.5 seconds to complete the same test.

This trend intensifies as you go up the performance ladder; despite the occasional call for a truce, the arms race continues in full swing. The conventional wisdom—which I myself have peddled on these very pages—is to wonder whether all this progress is actually a good thing. When Formula 1 cars grew too fast for the tracks upon which they raced, the sport moved to new, purpose-built tracks that could contain those speeds. But our roads haven't really changed; if anything, they're usually a lot more crowded than back in the day.

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