Colouring-in Team

Are modern cars too fast?

I love cars. And I love fast, too. Fast and cars, together, in harmony. LIke 'hot' and 'chocolate'. LOVELY. But there's a problem: modern cars are just too fast. Too fast to enjoy in (relative) safety, too fast to thrill at sane speeds, and too fast for the powers that be not to notice.

There's a terrific video on the Autocar website right now - a triple test of the new Mercedes A45 AMG, the BMW M135i, and the Golf GTi. All fabulously fast and capable cars. You can see just how fast by looking at the speedo needle in the footage - at several points Steve Sutcliffe hits three figures, apparently without drama, and well within the limits of the car. A few people pointed this out in the comments. Now I'd probably love to do 120mph in a car that capable over a lovely Welsh B-road. However (aside from the fact that that trio of cars is probably worth more than my house), I'm not sure I ever should, and there's a point to be made here about how fast modern cars are.

For us mere mortals with normal reaction times (Steve is a former racing driver), a car that makes it a doddle to hit 3-figures on a B-road is probably asking for trouble. The best brakes in the world won't make up for how long it takes most of us to spot the sheep in the road and move our foot over to the brake pedal.

Basically, there's a lot to be said for cars that make 60mph feel exciting. It bothers me a little that, should I ever encounter one of those cars being driven at speed over the Black Mountains, the chances are it won't be being driven by an ex-racing driver, or a motoring hack with 30 years fast driving under his belt. The chances are it'll be driven by a moron with lots of money and no talent.

The last such incident I can recall was a brand new Focus ST coming the other way over a bumpy B-road. He went too fast into a bend, seemed to lock a front wheel momentarily, understeered, and only at the last minute swerved to avoid hitting myself, my wife and our daughter head-on in our 40 year old car. As I say: more money than talent.

I really do dislike the relentless encroachment of ever-lower speed limits on my driving pleasure. I don't want standard 50mph limits on B-roads. I don't want speed cameras everywhere. But while there is a market for this type of car, you know that the only way the authorities are going to respond is with lower limits and SPECS cameras as far as the eye can see.

If you're at all into cars you probably already know the story of how our national 70mph limit came into being. Although the official reason was a spate of incidents that had recently occurred in poor driving conditions, it is widely believed that a major cause for alarm within the government was when AC tested the Cobra on the M1, and is alleged to have hit 180mph.

The point I am inelegantly attempting to make here is that, when it's so easy to buy and own a car that can casually do twice the speed limit on a B-road, bad things will happen, and sooner or later the authorities will have to respond.

Categories: Cars, Comment

Tags: speed