The Future Of High Performance?

SVT's John Colletti was recently quoted as saying future SVT products would focus on weight reduction instead on increased horsepower to
gain better performance. And now it seems Audi is talking the same talk. Will future high-performance Mustangs see their horsepower capped at maybe only around 300 ponies, but those ponies only needing to propel sub-3,000lb of curb weight?
With the recent spike in world oil prices, and the probability we'll never see gas much under two bucks a gallon ever again, I think the chances of flyweight Mustangs in our future are a certainty.
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For two and a half decades, Germany's top three prestige automakers, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz have battled it out for the first place in terms of speed, horsepower and acceleration with their performance divisions. With battles waged in nearly all vehicle sizes, body styles and price ranges, the trio of high-speed German supercar-makers has made the ‘80s, ‘90s and what we've seen of this new millennium an interesting spectacle.
Say goodbye to the RS Cars - Audi's pulling out of the HP race.
No true automotive enthusiast could deny any sense of excitement upon the news of the original superwagon, the Porsche-tuned Audi RS2. Designed by Quattro GmbH, no other factory-produced compact wagon could top its explosive power and rawness. Nor can anyone turn a blind eye to the power-overloaded antics of Benz's latest assault of super-luxury vehicles powered by twin-turbocharged V12 powerplants. BMW's most recent rendition of the M5 is perhaps the quintessential supersedan, built with an F1-inspired V10 and a 7-speed paddleshift sequential gearbox has been seared into the minds of many.
The RS6 might just have been the end of the line for high-HP Audis.
But the competition, particularly the one-upmanship seen over the five years is short lived - Audi has officially pulled out of the horsepower race. Stephen Reil, General Manager of Development at Quattro GmbH, the man responsible for procuring Audi's RS models, commented on the issue saying, "continuing to increase the power outputs is not the way forward. With more power the car normally gets heavier and then you need more power again." Weight has always been considered the mortal enemy of the sports cars; it deteriorates ride, numbs handling, reduces cornering agility and compromises braking abilities. The vicious cycle is often repeated time after time with every generation that passes. Audi's decision to concentrate on other areas will hopefully shed years of weight gain on upcoming vehicles.
BMW has also pledged to drop the horsepower in favour or reducing weight and improving handling.
Another critical issue involved with the horsepower race is getting the power to the ground. Riel bashed the rear-wheel driven competition whose recent releases include the 507 horsepower BMW M5 and the 603 horsepower Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG saying, "with a rear-wheel-drive car, all you succeed in doing is lighting up the yellow traction control sign." While Audi has never had such a problem thanks to their innovative permanent all wheel drive system, could this be a sign that Audi will be moving away from AWD?
The new super Audis will be badged under a new name.
Unfortunately for fans at the Audi camp, vehicles likes Quattro's latest project, the 450 horsepower RS6 may no longer be on the up-and-up on the horsepower race. But Audi's choice not to strive for top spot in the power count doesn't necessarily mean that future hot Audis will be any slower than the immediate competition. Riel said that Quattro is aiming to develop cars that blend the best of the high-power output world with "outstanding driving dynamics and road handling."
Audi doesn't want to end up cars that essentially only light up the traction control light.
A key idea to delivering Riel's goals of improved dynamics comes not from Quattro, but from Audi. Earlier this year VAG boss Bernd Pieshstrader encouraged Audi's engineers to improve the way that their cars handled and rode. The way that their engineers solved this problem was to shift the engine towards the center of the car, a technique often seen in purist sports cars to improve a car's weight distribution while reducing the mass slung over the front wheels which leads to better handling and braking.
With better handling and less curb weight, Audis may not lead in power, but they'll leading in driving excitement.
On what car will Quattro exercise their new school of thought? Analysts say that the next vehicle up for the supercar treatment is the A3, however a hotter version of the new A6 is also said to be on the way. Rumors of it utilizing Lamborghini's 5.0 liter V10 to counter the new 507 horsepower M5 could very well be proven false if Riel's statements are indeed true. But there is one thing for sure – we will know the vehicle when it arrives; a new naming scheme for high performance Audis is being created, one that steps away from the R and S logo types.
---end of article---
NoOp comment: Maybe the recent "delay" of the 500-horsepower Lightning pickup has a lot to do high gas prices, hungry horsepower, and big curb weight?
Patrick '93 Cobra '83 LTD
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Actually it only has to do with those three things in the fact that they may not sell well. All said and done, they still need to make money. Those three things are the reasons why they may not sell well.
I'd like to eventually get my wife a G35 coupe, but seeing how they need to run on premium fuel, it may become less of a reality.
Steve 72 Skylark Custom455

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High performance will always be around in one form or another, as there will always be some kind of demand for it.
The rumored demise of the Lightning's got nothing to do with gas prices and weight per se; it's all about profit margins. Apparently, the bean counters at Ford have determined that the Lightning won't turn a high enough profit.
Joe Calypso Green '93 5.0 LX AOD hatch with a few goodies Black '03 Dakota 5.9 R/T CC
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Why not?
Steve 72 Skylark Custom455

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see
those
that
make
they
Apparently,
Hell if I know. You'll have to ask Ford.
Joe Calypso Green '93 5.0 LX AOD hatch with a few goodies Black '03 Dakota 5.9 R/T CC
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Because high gas prices will depress the sales numbers.... if enough aren't sold, then the profit margin will be low or non-existant. For the manufacturer it is ALL about profit..... All businesses are in the business of making money... some make cars, some make toasters, some sell stocks. The bottom line is that a profit must be made.
Production numbers.... the more of one item made means that each item costs less to make. The catch is that you have to sell them all. The demise of the Lightning will be market driven.

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...which is pretty much my point.
There will be a group who would always by them, but they're probably the same group that already has the 2nd gen Lightnings.
If they're going to sell to such a small group, then the profit per truck needs to be more. Thus the price gets to be too much and they won't bring in many new buyers.
On top of the cost to buy is the cost to operate. Well, from a gas standpoint, we're paying about double what we did when the 2nd gen's came out.
The cost to operate them will push down the number sold, therefore the amount of money per truck would have a hard time making it worth the cost.
With the price being so high, you can't market it to the guy who wants to buy an F-150, but with the more powerful engines. And once you reach the Lightning price, who would use it as a truck anyhow?
Steve 72 Skylark Custom455

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And we're left waiting to see how Joe is going to pass the blame on to Ford....

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Blame for what? Ford's simply trying to make more money, just like everyone else. I just think it's a shame that they're bailing out of performance vehicles.
Just saw a TV commercial last night for the new era of Fords, or whatever. Didn't leave too much of an impression because I didn't even remember the theme. Anyway, they highlighed the 500, which looks like a rehashed Taurus. If this is the new future or era or whatever, it's pretty bleak.
Joe Calypso Green '93 5.0 LX AOD hatch with a few goodies Black '03 Dakota 5.9 R/T CC

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Patrick wrote:

We can only hope.

Good reason to wait before buying.
--
.boB
1997 HD FXDWG - Turbocharged!
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Well considering the oil situation and such, the US is going to get a pretty decent wakeup call soon. There's no country in the world that wastes more gas than the US does, and size is not the reason for this.
We're obsessed with owning the biggest car with insane amount of HP, to then drive it at 15MPG down the highway at 70mph, never even remotely touch the potential of the engine. The people like everyone in this group that actually do drive their cars to the limit, are far and few in between compared to the average SUV/Truck owner out there.
Gas prices are only gonna go one way, and that is up. Which means that while a 400HP engine is nice, seeing it in production cars will probably be a rare thing in the future.
As you're saying, lowering the weight is most likely gonna be the focus to allow lower HP cars, less gas consumption, but still comparable performance speed/acceleration wise.
Ultimately however, combustion engines are doomed and need to go..while there's still some oil left in this world.
The real future actually are having 2 or 4 independant electrical motors, perferably four, one per wheel. One company actually is releasing a production car with this model (2 and 4 motor versions). Running purely on hydrogen. Only exhaus is water..
Performance and range comparable to your average 4 banger out there.
Got about lil over 20HP per wheel...but the "catch" about it is, that these motors have full HP, and full Torque, at 0 rpms. And especially torque, they have a lot...and of course, no drivetrain losses, no need for a transmission, nothing.
Of course, a system like this isn't modifiable except for putting in larger motors..which is something I personally don't like =) However, it is the only true actual future there is, performance or no performance.
Oh and, the US *REALLY* needs to get a decent public transportation system into place!!! Getting some of these SUV's off the road would help.....But since the proposed high speed train in florida, is being referred to as the "Devil Train", and the government is full-force fighting it....I suppose, we'll all continue driving gas guzzling SUV's 'till the oil runs dry...
Stephan 1986 Pontiac Fiero SE 2.8L V6 Automatic 215 40ZR17 Yokohoma ES 100 Front 235 40ZR17 Yokohoma ES 100 Rear
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Stephan,
I agree with you on just about every point you make. The sole exception is that the people like us are the ones who benefit from those who buy more car than they ever use. All of the secretaries and recent college grads who buy 6-banger Mustangs keep the platform viable... the others looking for performace keep the GT around, and those with enough cash and affection towards the car kept the Cobra around for 10 years.
I definately agree with the public transportation problem, and not because I work in that business. If they offered a train to take me to work and back, I'd ride it. More time to sleep/work/play games/watch TV/etc.
On the performance modding side of the electric car... you could probably tweak the inverter settings some to provide a little more horsepower, but those should be pretty well set from the factory. I'm assuming that it's using the hydrogen fuel cell to make DC power and that they're using a DC-AC inverter. This method of powering a motor offers so many benefits that diesel locomotives use the 1000+hp diesel engine to power a generator, which is then inverted to AC. Electric train systems running AC are converted into DC and then back into AC because of the frequency control. Being able to control frequency and voltage to an AC motor make for a much more controllable powering operation and more efficient than a DC powered motor.
The SUV market is going to be hard to supplant though. I know a lot of people (my mom included) who have purchased large vehicles because it makes them feel safer, and to see around the other idiots on the road (who are also driving SUVs). It'll be hard to sell those people a car that runs on 4 20hp electric motors and a fuel cell. They hybrids are getting better, but I believe the Escape is the only one even remotely large.
JS

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Fully agree with you on that!

Not to mention cheaper. No wear/tear on your car, tires, no gas, etc.

Yep, that's precisely how it works.

Well see, its a viscious cycle in a way. The more larger cars you put on the road, the more people want larger cars to feel safer, and in doing so, they are putting more larger cars on the road, and the cycle repeats.
And I dunno, I personally...like to be as low to the ground as possible =)
Now I agree, sure..more metal around you may be "safer". However, a vehicle that size also isn't exactly what I personally consider to be very manouverable. As far as I'm concerned, the best way to survive a collision is not to have one. And to accomplish that, bigger...is not better.
Now europe on the other hand I think is taking the small concept a bit too far when they start having cars that need all sorts of electronic control to even keep them on the road, because they're so small a leaf blower could tip them over...that too, scares me =)
Well anyway..time for me to head to bed...
Stephan 1986 Pontiac Fiero SE 2.8L V6 Automatic 215 40ZR17 Yokohoma ES 100 Front 235 40ZR17 Yokohoma ES 100 Rear
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