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We’ve reached peak car

1 year ago

Writer:

Andrew Frankel | Ti co-founder

Date:

9 April 2021

‘Peak car’ is a phrase I used on the Ti site last week in a story about McLaren, and a few were kind enough to get in touch to say that both the name and idea behind it resonated with them somewhat. So if you will forgive the indulgence, I thought I might delve a little deeper here because I think it is a real issue that has yet to be focused upon by the wider world.

So what do I mean by ‘peak car’? When I started this job in the late 1980s even the fastest cars were not very fast and, more than that, they were not very good. Ferrari’s production flagship when I joined Autocar in 1988 was the Testarossa, and today you can buy family hatchbacks with more power that would not only walk away from the fastest Ferrari of 30 years ago in a straight line, but also enjoy an even greater advantage in corners. The point is that back then, we all looked forward to cars accelerating harder and cornering faster because we knew we’d enjoy them more if they did.

But I don’t any more, and for two reasons.

First, very few principles are indefinitely extendable: sooner or later they tend to turn around and bite you on the arse. I think the first time this fact came powerfully to mind in an automotive context was when doing a launch control start in a Bugatti Veyron in 2005. It accelerated from 0-60mph in around 2.6sec and from 0-100mph in not much more than that. Was it an electrifying ride? Did I instantly stop and do it all over again? I did not. Truth is, it made me feel slightly sick.

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