Peter De Lorenzo on supercars:
Manufacturers are perfectly capable of throwing vast quantities of money around to develop a supercar. But what if, instead of the coterie of $1 million supercars we’re seeing now, we had a new wave of supercars designed around the elegant simplicity of an advantageous power-to-weight ratio?
“Simplify, then add lightness,” famed Lotus designer Colin Chapman once said. Known for his visionary racing and street car designs, Chapman exploited the concept of an advantageous power-to-weight ratio time and time again, often resulting in brilliantly innovative – and winning – solutions that made history.
A supercar based on the concept of exploiting an advantageous power-to-weight ratio would do wonders to advance the cause of our future mainstream automobiles. And even though the current supercar manufacturers can point to the strides made in reducing the weight of these new high-performance machines – especially McLaren – the fact remains that redefining the concept entirely would result in even more gains.
Let’s take power, for instance. Instead of the usual gamut of V6s, V8s and V12s, I’d like to see these next wave ultra-high-performance machines powered by smaller displacement 3- and 4-cylinder engines of no more than 2.0-liters delivering 300-350HP. With that – and thanks to their lightweight (2100 lbs.) specification target – these machines could deliver blistering performance close to the current stable of ultimate supercars, while using demonstrably less fuel.
Redefining the supercar equation would allow auto manufacturers to translate lessons learned from these radical next-think supercars to the vehicles we will eventually drive too. Imagine the average 4,000-lb. luxury sedan weighing in at 3,000 lbs. Or a crossover that formerly weighed 5,000 lbs., tilting the scales at just 3,500 lbs.
Yes. This. Exactly.
The fun-to-drive quotient of low weight to high power must be ruthlessly exploited for and by the masses, or CAFE will take all the fun out of driving.