By on July 17, 2019

We’re living in a golden age of performance where somehow, despite all the focus on electrification and sport-utility development, you can still buy a nearly 800 horsepower coupe off the showroom floor for less than six figures. All of the so-called “Detroit 3” manufacturers are offering supercharged V8’s that start with the Camaro ZL1 and Corvette Z06’s 650 hp and top out at the Challenger Redeye’s 797 hp. The new Shelby GT500 falls in between, with 760 hp.

Are they the fastest iterations of each of their respective platforms? Yes. Does that make them the best? No. In fact, they become inferior in the process.

Now, before we go any further, let me clarify that I’m a road racer and vehicle dynamics engineer, not a drag racer or powertrain engineer. As such, I tend to value a car’s handling more than its straight-line performance. If acceleration or top speed are your main priorities, then my argument will mean little to you.

Dodge, in particular, has catered to the drag racers with the Challenger Demon and 1320 Drag Pack models. Those packages were offered with suspension tuning and tires that were specific to the job of getting off the line as quickly as possible. If drag racing is your thing, then more power to you. Those are excellent tools for the task.

In the case of the Camaro ZL1, Corvette Z06, Shelby GT500, and Challenger Hellcat Widebody, they all come with tires and suspension tuning that are clearly intended to make the cars perform well around corners. Therefore, we can conclude that these cars are designed for drivers that put an emphasis on handling.

Here’s where all those models go wrong. The pitfalls of adding the supercharger are not worth the benefits. Yes, they’re faster. But there are enough compromises made in the process that they outweigh the straight-line benefit.

Now, we’re not talking about competition cars. Even in competition, most sanctioning bodies classify autos by power-to-weight ratio or by limiting engine output. So, no significant benefit is gained by going faster in a straight line. You’d just get bumped to an appropriate class. We’re talking about street and track-day performance vehicles. So-called “drivers’ cars.”

Adding a supercharger onto their naturally-aspirated counterparts takes away from the overall satisfaction of driving these automobiles. The naturally-aspirated cars I’m referring to are the Camaro SS 1LE, Corvette Grand Sport, Challenger and Charger Scat Pack Widebodies, and Shelby GT350. Each of these cars are not only lighter, but have lower and more rear-ward centers of gravity. The superchargers, themselves, are mounted on top of the engine, creating a greater roll moment — and thus body roll — which is primarily carried over the front axle. Adding in the mass associated with the additional air and fluid-cooling line plumbing, as well as additional radiators, the Camaro, Challenger, and Charger gain nearly 200 pounds in their supercharged versions. That’s about 5 percent of their total mass hanging out high over the front axle.

The result of this is multi-faceted. First, the increase in roll needs to be dealt with through increases in roll stiffness, which come with compromises to ride quality. Secondly, the response time of the front-end is lengthened as there is more mass to move. Even if stiffer bars, springs, dampers, and/or bushings are used to recover the initial steering and handling response, it still takes longer for the complete load transfer to take place among the tires. Thirdly, once the weight transfer is complete, the front tires need to carry most of that additional 200 lbs of load. Again, this is being exerted from high in the engine bay, increasing the roll moment. The same factors apply to braking, as well.

So, what does this actually mean to the driver? Much of my direct hands-on experience is with the Chargers and Challengers, as I was a vehicle dynamics engineer for that platform for a time. Using them as examples, the Hellcat models have slower steering and turn-in response, take longer to take a set in the turn, and have considerably more corner-entry understeer than their 6.4L Scat Pack counterparts.

Of course, on the way out of a turn, it is more difficult to manage wheelspin when trying to apply the additional power of the Hellcat. Thus, the driving style required to best negotiate a turn is to use heavy trail-braking, over-slowing and rotating the car at apex, and straightening out the exits to apply as much forward propulsion as possible. It’s not exactly the stuff that sports cars are made of.

The L-platform cars might be the most extreme example among the pony cars, but the same principles apply to the others. As much as the development engineers try to quell the impact of the added weight, the differences are there. The Corvette tries to actively compensate for the added mass of the Z06’s supercharger by swapping to a carbon-fiber roof and hood, which the Grand Sport does not get. As a result of the entirety of their weight-offsetting efforts, the Z06 limits the mass increase to just 96 lbs, or about 3 percent.

There are additional compromises that come with the inclusion of a supercharger, most namely among them being heat. The supercharger that enables the elevated power levels creates tremendous heat through the compression of air, requiring that it be expelled by use of an intercooler. The airflow through an engine bay is already being commanded by a multitude of radiators and heat exchangers. The addition of an intercooler and potentially enlarged oil, water, and transmission fluid heat exchangers means that inlets and outlets need to be opened up, which all add drag. Managing temperatures is incredibly difficult, as evidenced by the issues seen with the Z06.

The 650 to 797 hp available from the supercharged pony cars provide propulsion like a jet on take-off. While we can first question where one could sensibly use this power on public road, I’d venture that the engines just aren’t as much fun in application. For one, applying full power through the entire rev range is rarely possible on the street and you certainly can’t do so for very long when it is.

Even when you can, the constant thrust of the supercharger’s flat torque curve can make it feel less exciting. Kind of like in a plane, when you’re a few seconds past the initial surge when the brakes are released. It’s still accelerating quickly, but the sensation of it tapers off. An engine that builds more power in the upper rpms — and falls slightly as the revs drop on upshift — might not be as fast, but feels more exciting and rewarding to run through the gears.

The additional power of the top Camaros, Corvettes, Mustangs, Chargers, and Challengers all come with significant costs. The added mass of the superchargers leads to suspension upgrades that may add even more mass. Larger tires, wheels, or brakes would contribute to mass increases, as well. Additional heat expulsion in the engine bay requires plumbing and heat exchangers which — you guessed it — add mass.

All these factors bring with them the most obvious form of cost, and that’s calculated in dollars. I’m not going to pretend that fuel economy matters here. But, with the added power comes engineering, development, and component costs that are sunk into simply trying to offset the impact of the larger powerplants.

The supercharged cars are faster, but only in acceleration. Roughly speaking, the first half of the power gains may simply offset the losses in handling and braking. The second half of the power difference then goes to actually decreasing lap time. I’d call that a 50 percent return on investment.

A “driver’s car” is typically one that has a proportionally balanced power-to-grip ratio, with great handling performance. The best drivers’ cars of the group are then not the fastest versions, but the top naturally-aspirated versions. So, if you’re shopping, save yourself a few bucks and go with the Camaro SS 1LE, Corvette Grand Sport, Shelby GT350, or Charger or Challenger Scat Pack Widebody. You can PayPal me a 5-percent tip on your savings in exchange for your added enjoyment.

When you see a driver of one of the cars above, tip your hat to them, because they probably get it. I think they deserve the recognition more than the driver that just bought the fastest or most expensive version.

 

[Images: FCA, GM, Ford]

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87 Comments on “The Fastest Version is Not the Best Version...”


  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    This.

    A good friend of mine was complaining that the Mustang Shelby GT500 now comes with an automatic. My response: “Just get the GT350. It’s manual-only, it’s probably more fun, it’s less expensive, I bet it handles better, and you were never going to be able to exploit the GT500’s extra power, anyway.”

    The top-dog cars are meant to put up competitive performance numbers and track times for their respective brands, and that means forced induction and letting computers do a lot of the work. They’re not the “fun” ones, anymore.

    Or, hey, do what everyone always says to do and buy an MX-5 Miata.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    One of the things I loved about my wife’s dearly departed 2003 Mini Cooper S was the way you could wind out the engine. The higher the RPM, the greater the power. It was fun to push the engine to the redline, shift, and do it again. And since it wasn’t the fastest car (in a straight line) there was plenty of space and room to drive it hard.

    The later turbocharged models had a power delivery that fell off after 5K-ish and just weren’t as fun to drive. Of course the extra weight of the Clubman and Countryman that I owned didn’t help either.

    Just another reason why I enjoy my 2014 V6 Mustang. It isn’t particularly fast, compared to its V8 brethren, but that 3.7L engine is a lot of fun to wind out.

    • 0 avatar
      Robotdawn

      I’ve said the same thing about modern stick shifts. Something is lost when you have so much horsepower it doesn’t matter when you shift, and you are at the “speed limit” before you wind out 2nd gear.
      Those 100 hp NA 4 cylinders I had in the 90s were much more fun. You had to work it to run up to 65 with any alacrity, and that was the fun.

    • 0 avatar
      Jerome10

      So much this.

      There is NO FUN in really fast cars honestly. Even a turbo 6 BMW is so dang fast that you’re at 80+ in seconds. And you go around corners and nearly any gear is appropriate.

      Then I jump in an old Miata, or other older modestly powered car, particularly with a stick shift, and being able to wind out a few gears before putting your license at risk is so much more rewarding.

      The few faster cars I’ve driven with a manual in the last few years, I find I prefer about half throttle acceleration. I can enjoy the push, I can hold the gears a bit, enjoy the sound. Full throttle you shift every half-second, all thrust/no build… again not really much fun.

      I hate 3 cylinder engines, but on a back road some of the funnest cars I’ve driven have been the VW Polo and Ford Fiesta with 3 cylinders and a stick. Super lightweight and you can beat the snot out of them. A hoot.

      IMHO the power and acceleration numbers at this point are just stat racing and bragging rights. The days of needing more power to safely merge or hold speed up a grade are gone by decades. Econoboxes can do it all just fine.

      NOTE: This ignores engine feel. I still prefer the feel of a 6 or 8 even if the turbo 4 has all the power you’d ever need.

      • 0 avatar
        Lockstops

        Very well put.

        My 987’s 245hp and 270Nm for the approx 1300kg was really nice, no complaints at all. And the NA boxer-6 soundtrack was heavenly no matter if it was way down on power compared to others of its breed. Except for a big minus from the gearing. And gearing is increasingly worse on modern cars due to idiotic emissions test cycles dictating that high gearing in order to get falsely lower numbers saves car companies massive amounts of money and sells those cars. Well, it was slightly disappointing when drivers of more powerful Skodas very often felt the need to really harass me and rub it in how much better their car accelerated from the stoplights.

        I love 3-cylinder engines (those and then 6, then V12, then the rest with 4-cyl at the bottom of the list), and even a relatively light BMW 1-series with its excellent RWD chassis was so much more enjoyable to actually drive than probably the majority of the world’s very powerful cars.

        Even with the fundamentally excellent Porsche 987 I ended up selling it much earlier than I planned after I noticed that I enjoyed driving a family member’s old 1-series with about 120hp slightly more in much of everyday spirited driving (BMW was much more nimble, tons more feel, and the Porsche only came alive chassis-wise at over 9/10ths). And the costs of ownership&use were more than halved.

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          I sound like a broken record on here responding to this type of comment, but anyone who hasn’t felt a hard 3-4 redline shift throw you back in your seat at 120 mph in a 600+ hp car should experience it at least once before denigrating cars today as “too powerful” or “NO FUN”.

          Is a Miata or 3 cylinder Fiesta fun? Sure, in its own way. But unless your commute is literally nothing but traffic and city streets you can find a way to have fun in a powerful car too.

          I drive 100 miles a day of open, straight, flat highway. A light, tossable car is wasted on me.

          • 0 avatar
            Flipper35

            Yes, but a light tossable car that will chirp the tires on the 3-4 shift at 120 is fun everywhere. Though I don’t go that fast with the kids.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            I’ve ridden litre class sport bikes (pre-traction control nannies) and it is exciting to be able to loft a front wheel or worry about rear wheel spin at 160 kpg (100 mph). Acceleration is mind boggling/blowing. With that being said, in most circumstances it becomes an exercise in controlled terror.
            My current 32 hp DRZ400 supermoto tops out at 154kph (95 mph) and is in many respects much more fun than litre bikes. You have to flog it to go fast but in many instances cornering speeds are much faster. You flog it not fear it!
            It is an exercise in mind-numbing boredom to ride it on a fairly straight open highway but that kind of road is boring regardless of what you ride.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “If acceleration or top speed are your main priorities, then my argument will mean little to you.”

    This is accurate. I will give up handling for more acceleration in nearly 100% of situations so most of what you wrote got a “don’t care” from me.

    **HOWEVER**

    “An engine that builds more power in the upper rpms — and falls slightly as the revs drop on upshift — might not be as fast, but feels more exciting and rewarding to run through the gears.”

    This is also accurate.

    • 0 avatar
      retrocrank

      I’ve seen several high HP cars ball it up on the inside of Turn 1 exit at MidOhio, cars that Miatas could outrun between Madness and Carousel (but of course got eaten alive on the way back to Madness).

      Who had more fun?

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “Who had more fun?”

        Probably the ones that didn’t wreck their car. However, the only tracks I’m ever going to be on are 1/8 or 1/4 mile long so performance at MidOhio or any other road course matters zero to me.

        People should buy the vehicles that fit what they want out of it.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          Is it possible to get enough tire under these cars to use all their power off the line?

          • 0 avatar
            nrd515

            Well sure, it’s possible, look at the youtube videos of Challenger Hellcats or Demons racing and there are some that launch very hard and Do a nice 60 foot time, but the tires that all it don’t last long at all, so it’s an annual or close to it thing of buying tires. On my Scatpack Challenger with only 485 HP, I’ve been unable to actually hook up well at all on a start running the stock 275 size Pirelli P-Zero Nero tires. The closest I’ve come is launching in 2nd gear (On the 8 speed auto)and rolling up the power until just before the 2-3 shift. If I’m lucky, there is just a chirp and it keeps on pulling from that point on. But at least part of the time, the 2-3 shift breaks the tires loose to the point it slows the car down noticeably. My friend had a 2010 Challenger SRT with a 440 CI blown motor making more power than a Demon, but with a lot of mods to the suspension and chassis. It wouldn’t hook without some pretty big slicks on it. But when it did, it was a lot of fun. He has a ’17 Scatpack now, and says it’s more fun in general and definitely rides better than “Big Orange” did.

        • 0 avatar
          retrocrank

          No argument there.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    At least on the Zeta ZL1 part of that weight is countered by a much bigger differential that required big changes to accommodate, slightly beefier rear end components (half shafts), not to mention wider rear tires. Maybe not 200 lbs to counteract the front 200 lbs but it certainly closes the gap.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Big NA cars like the C6 Z06 and Viper are the best of both worlds. It’s by far my biggest automotive disappointment that there’s no currently available equivalent.

  • avatar
    retrocrank

    I’ve got 70 year old sports car that’s got a fully balanced engine with a high lift cam, but otherwise stock. Maybe 60 hp at the flywheel. At the helm the driver’s elbow is maybe 18 inches from the ground, or less. Not much in the way of body work to fend off SUVNs. Steering wheel right in the chest, used to suggest to the car where you might want to go. Believe me, winding that thing out on public roads is plenty exciting and it all happens at under 50mph….almost legal in town.
    And can be totally disassembled and rebuilt in a couple of weekends with a minimal set of tools. I can take a lot of jet rides for the cost of a 700 hp car that isn’t serviceable or repairable without a Cray.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    Best is a subjective term

    You can apply this scenario to more affordable cars and trucks as well.

  • avatar
    Tummy

    I traded my 2016 Tesla Model S 75 for a 2018 P100D. The handling feel is the same (not great in either version), energy consumption is about the same, yet it’s night and day difference in performance (5.5s 0-60 vs 2.4s).

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    There is something sad and desperate about a car like a Hellcat. It just doesn’t make any sense. Abysmal fuel economy and handling for power you can’t use on the street. What is the point?

    And even track focused cars like the ZL1 and ZR1 need big race tracks to even begin to stretch their legs.

    I suppose man has always bought things to serve as penis prosthesis, but in the auto world it seems we’ve reached a point of complete absurdity in the HP arms race. What is the point of a street car that requires a runway for safe WOT pulls?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “What is the point?”

      raceosw.com/dragway/

    • 0 avatar
      ahintofpepperjack

      “What’s the point?”

      Because we can. Does there have to be a point?

      “Abysmal Fuel economy and handling”

      The Hellcats get 20+MPG on the highway, and most reviews I have read actually state that the cars handle fine.

    • 0 avatar
      2drsedanman

      “but in the auto world it seems we’ve reached a point of complete absurdity in the HP arms race.”

      I was thinking the same scenario applies to trucks and their never ending goal to “out torque” the other guy.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      The funny thing is that it’s always guys worrying about this phenomenon. I was friends with a girl who hated Lamborghini drivers, but then I found out that her first husband had Lamborghinis. It didn’t stop her from marrying him. I’ve also seen how college-educated, fit, professional women respond to bro-dozers. They babble and blush. As for the Hellcat, a recent employer kept one around. More people of both genders were enthusiastic about that grey Challenger than any other car we had, and we worked on everything from a RHD Skyline GT-R to an H1. Just abut everyone knew exactly what it was too. I don’t want one, but I certainly don’t resent people who do. It isn’t like I’m paying for it as with a Tesla.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @todddatlas: It isn’t like I’m paying for it as with a Tesla.

        Yes you are: https://www.factcheck.org/2011/06/chrysler-paid-in-full/

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          Everyone paid their share of the Fiat bailout, including people who buy their cars today. Everyone who doesn’t buy a Tesla has to pick up the slack for the parasites who drive them.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        I have had more girls ask for rides in the Cobra replica than guys by a very wide margin.

        If my daughter could buy any car she said she would get a Charger Hellcat. Boy wants a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon in yellow with a body colored freedom top. He is almost 10 so he has some years to save up.

    • 0 avatar
      Jon

      because many (almost all) modern performance enhancements on your average every day commuter car have their roots in motorsport.

      A lot of manufacturers use their “racing” division as a type of R&D for certain features of their mass produced vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I don’t think SRT has any current motorsport connections

        It supposedly stands for Street & Racing Technology but I only see it used for street racing.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          “It supposedly stands for Street & Racing Technology”

          Sucks at Racing Teslas

          • 0 avatar
            Illan

            as a 300c SRT owner. this made me chuckle :). also no lies detected if its a tesla P series

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            No lies from a dig, but my SRT product and me would be happy to face a Tesla 60-130…

          • 0 avatar
            MoparRocker74

            Who cares if a Tesla is technically ‘faster’. Theyre quiet, sterile, and idiot proof. Zero driver involvement at all. About as much fun as sending an email on a computer. For that matter, a V6 Camry will smoke a Miata. Which one is a fun drivers car, vs which is an efficient and economical transportation device?

            NO car will get you from point A to point B faster than a jetliner. How much ‘fun’ is that?

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          They are still heavy into drag racing. Take a look at Leah Pritchett.

    • 0 avatar
      Illan

      Hi sportyaccordy,

      why dont you drive a hellcat
      some cars dont make sense on paper, but when you drive them their experience can change the way you see them.

      i honestly i want to Drive a Mazda Miata, BMW M3, VW GTI and Porsche to see whats all the fuzz they are about.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        You know a dealer that’s giving out Hellcat test drives? Wow. Back in the day I sold Chevys, and we basically required a prequal to take out a ‘Vette from anyone the dealer principal didn’t know personally. And that was a wise precaution – a Toyota dealer down the street let a guy and his buddy out in a Supra Turbo, and that test drive ended with a balled-up Supra Turbo and a dead buddy.

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          It’s possible.

          I test drove my GT500 before I bought it, and later traded it in on my Viper which I also test drove. In the latter case, no one from the dealership even went with me, they let my wife and I go together. I didn’t have to show any money or even that I was financially able to purchase the cars before they let me go in them. Just showed some legitimate interest in purchasing (no verbal commitments of any kind though).

          Just this week BMW put on an event and let people loose in M cars at the local dealership. My wife got to take a new M5 out alone and I drove an M2. Again, no promises or commitment. And I’m definitely not buying an M5.

          I’ve never driven a Hellcat but I can’t imagine it being any more difficult at the right dealer.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I think the supercharged versions of these cars are bought more as investments (or shiny objects to show off) than driving instruments.

    By the way, am I the only one who’s enjoying Anthony’s stuff?

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    As much as I like cars like the GT500 or Hellcat, I’ve told friends that in reality i’d rather own the Mustang GT or GT350, or Charger SRT. I don’t want a car that you have to baby it by going easy on the gas pedal or you’re always just turning your tires into powder. Where’s the fun in that?

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    @Anthony, I’m very glad you came on here to say this. For street driving and track days, there is such a thing as too much power, because of the compromises all that motor require.

    The most fun car I’ve ever driven had all of 113 hp. It also weighed 930 pounds without fuel or driver.

  • avatar
    JMII

    “The Corvette tries to actively compensate for the added mass of the Z06’s supercharger by swapping to a carbon-fiber roof and hood, which the Grand Sport does not get.”

    Incorrect – all C7s come with carbon fiber hoods and roofs. However they can have the optional poly transparent roof. Weight saving is 6lbs on the carbon (16 vs 22). The hood and roof may not look like carbon because they are available in both painted and exposed carbon versions.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    A great read.

  • avatar
    volvo

    I completely agree that outside of straight line competition HP is a distant second to balance and handling.

    During my Gearhead phase (1962-2005) my favorite cars were
    1965 Lotus Elan – Balance and Handling – Minimal power
    1969 BMW 2002 sedan – Great balance with adequate handling for era
    1986 Porsche 928S – Balance, Handling and power
    Probably any Miata although I never owned one.

    Have had a little track time in properly set up Mustangs and formula fords. The low horsepower formula fords were not only faster on the road course but lots more fun.

    And I do enjoy Anthony’s insights.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Brings a story from my own driving experience to mind. About 10 years ago, I tested out two BMWs in one day – a manual 335xi and an M5. The salesman was clearly stoned, as he let me out in both un-chaperoned. I liked the 335 far better.

    Don’t get me wrong – the M5 was bad-a** fast (fastest thing I’ve ever driven, matter of fact), and it was highly entertaining, but it became obvious fairly early into my drive that the car’s capabilities vastly exceeded my driving abilities. And the only way to experience what I did was on a wide-open stretch of highway – how often does that happy circumstance ever happen?

    (Answer: almost never.)

    Meanwhile, the 335 was a lithe, quick, playful companion in normal traffic conditions. It FIT me.

    A great driving car isn’t necessarily the quickest one – it’s the one that connects with you. And it’s hard to connect with something that only really comes to life on a racetrack when you’re stuck in daily traffic.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      BTSR said it best- and I’m paraphrasing- “NOBODY cares about RING TIMES and BREMBO BRAKES when you’re SITTING IN TRAFFIC!”

      Though ironically he is one of the biggest Hellcat cheerleaders I know. Go figure

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        He’s right but I stopped listening the day he spouted something to the effect that “women like the fist,” and I don’t think he was referring to a Fiesta ST.

        There are only two possible meanings there. The first would involve calling 911, and as far as the second goes, this ain’t Penthouse Forum. Get down any way you want, big guy, but I really don’t want to hear about it.

        I don’t miss the guy one bit.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Was the M5 an automatic? It seems to me that the 6-speed stick V10 M5 was a much better driver than any of the turbocharged BMWs. It just wasn’t any better looking.

    • 0 avatar
      A Scientist

      Funny you should tell this story, bc I just bought a 335i convertible to have as a weekend play toy last month, and I bought it for all the reasons you’ve stated. The N54’s 300hp/300 torque is almost “cute” by today’s standards, won’t win many stoplight drag races with these new behemoths. But MY GOSH what a fun car to drive!

      My buddy had a C6 Z06 for a while, and riding in it with him it occurred to me that there was pretty much nowhere you could use all that power (only 505hp at that lol) on the street unless you wanted to quickly end up dead or in jail. Never in a million years would I have thought there was a thing as too much power.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        A 335 convertible would be an AMAZING weekend driver, assuming you have the time, patience and money to keep it fixed.

        That 335 goes down as one of the best drives I’ve ever had. Too bad BMW dumbed the 3 series down after that. Shame on them.

  • avatar
    webebob

    Pennies, that is all a S/C version of the aforementioned cars cost. Ya want it in an exotic? try hundreds, of thousands, of dollars more. Porsche GT2 RS, half the readers here just got down on their hands and knees at it’s mention, worshiping their highest aspiration, and those that have an extra $330,000 will buy one, if the dealer will let them. Even the author dare not mention a disparaging word against a 700hp behemoth when its entry level brother starts at $92,000. $92,000, that is $6,000 more than a Z06 MSRP, and at an ordinary discount on a base Z06 it can be had for less than $70,000.

    Every test driver, racer and car rag wannabe, agrees the C7 GS is the best handling car in the lineup, and the VERY next sentence goes “I just wish it had MORE POWER, AT LEAST 100 hp MORE.”

    I don’t know your generation, but i witnessed the end of the 60’s supercar, overnight it seemed, from 427-435hp vettes and cobras, 200mph Dodge Daytona’s and Plymouth Superbirds; down to 150hp Corvettes, thanks to the EPA, and an industry that took 30 YEARS to bring performance back to the automobile.

    And now you are sounding like Ms. Biddy Buskin and her sewing bee: “ooooh the cars are too powerful, let’s regulate them off the roads!”

    Yet two weeks ago in your review of the Ford GT MkII 700hp and Fort GT 650hp,
    you wrote: “Let’s just hope that these don’t get stored away and their owners drive them as intended.”

    Sorry i can’t spend $330,000 for a GT2RS or $500,000 for a nicely equipped Ford GT, or $1.2 million for a Ford GT Mk ii, if in your opinion that is the income level where drivers are allowed “to drive them as intended.”

    I’ll just take my $68,000 Z06 and LEARN TO DRIVE AROUND THE CAR’s IMPEDIMENTS.

    Isn’t that what becoming a better driver is all about? Learning to overcome the deficiencies in your car and winning; or is it just about whining because your car isn’t as perfect as someone else’s?

    • 0 avatar

      Let me be clear. I did not say that the cars are too powerful. I started the whole thing off with, “We’re living in a golden age of performance”. The way upon which the power is gained on these supercharged vehicles comes with trade-offs and I don’t think that those trade-offs are worth the power gains for a driver’s car. That is my point.
      This could also apply to turbo cars vs NA counterparts and I considered discussing the GT2 RS vs GT3 RS. Is the cost difference worth it, even if you could afford it?

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        I have a buddy who has had a GT3 RS for a couple of years now. Hates it. The car rarely works, and has been all of the country to Porsche whisperers to get it right, which finally it is I believe but you would never know because it now sits under a cover waiting for some poor unsuspecting dumb dumb to drop 170k on it.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    “Adding in the mass associated with the additional air and fluid-cooling line plumbing, as well as additional radiators, the Camaro, Challenger, and Charger gain nearly 200 pounds in their supercharged versions. That’s about 5 percent of their total mass hanging out high over the front axle.”

    I don’t disagree with the overall weight gain, but I do somewhat disagree with where you say the mass is placed. I would say that maybe 110 pounds is added on top of an engine. That includes the supercharger, a liquid intercooler, some fluid, and the deduction for the original intake manifold that is replaced by all this.

    Maybe another 20 pounds would be relatively low in the car, such as a low front-mounted heat exchanger.

    The rest of the weight is probably in things like heavier wheels and tires, bigger brake rotors, body kit and trim.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re right that its not all on top of the engine. Some of it is ahead of it, which isn’t really much better.
      The 6.4 Scat Packs and the Hellcats share the same body panels, wheels, tires, and brakes. There are some differences in diff and half-shafts, depending on spec, so there could be a little bit there.
      To your point, if larger wheels, tires, and brakes are required, that’s all rotating unsprung mass, which is an even worse place to add weight.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        “The 6.4 Scat Packs and the Hellcats share the same body panels, wheels, tires, and brakes.”

        This is why the 392 Widebody Scat Pack Challenger really is the sweet spot for me. Just cant decide on blue or plum. A Redeye would have to be white – Vanishing Point.

        • 0 avatar

          They don’t widely publicize this, but the Widebody on the Hellcat and Redeye are just wheel/tire/flare packages. On the Scat Pack Widebody, the suspension tuning is the most aggressive of any L-car ever. Stiffer springs/bars and bespoke damper and steering tuning. It is the only one that really felt “at home” on a racetrack to me and could be flogged all day.

      • 0 avatar
        SPPPP

        Thanks for your reply, Anthony. I agree with your overall point, and only wanted some clarification on the details. I certainly think there is a point of diminishing returns with these cars. Having owned supercharged and turbocharged vehicles, I can appreciate the extra capability they provide, but I also lament the additional complication they cause.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Maybe the power is useful on the track, especially the dragstrip.

    But I don’t spend any time on the track. I buy cars to drive on the street.

    And the street where I live is low-speed, except for the freeway. So I care less and less about power. I sold my stickshift sport sedan to buy a luxury sedan. Then I sold the luxury sedan to buy a truck-based SUV. Then I sold the SUV to buy a more efficient, capacious, and better-riding (though way less cool) CUV. The 0-60 time of each of those cars was slower than the last. And I really don’t care. They have enough power to get out of their own way on the freeway, and beyond that amount of power, there are about 25 other criteria that are more important.

    Even if I still were in a place where I could wring out performance cars, I wouldn’t be interested in a weight/power ratio better than about 10 pounds/horsepower.

  • avatar
    kolonelpanik

    Excellent article, but as with all the comments so far, not a word about the grossly excessive and piggish misuse of Earth’s resources manifested in these vehicles. There isn’t a component or concept on today’s crop of super and hyper cars that isn’t a slap in the face to all living things and a kick in the groin to all who care. Is it happy go lucky carefree “blissful” ignorance? Or just ugly short term greedy theft from future generations? Indeed, “the fastest isn’t always the best,” from more than one perspective.

    • 0 avatar
      Lockstops

      I dunno, maybe all those 3-row SUVs and minivans display many times more pollution, even in the case of 3-row EVs and PHEVs. A muscle car and its single or DINK -occupants (even those with one or two kids) will use a hell of lot less of the Earth’s resources than those big families.

      Even with equal family sizes, all it takes is a few different choices like a family vacation to the other side of the globe, a less efficient / larger house, more polluting hobbies (over here we have people playing hockey in the summer and soccer in the winter etc.) and no matter what one family’s car pollutes they still won’t be the ones polluting more.

      Enough with the environmentalist extremism.

      • 0 avatar
        MoparRocker74

        Troll alert. Exactly the type who will preach till he’s blue in the face about what a bunch of greedy capitalist earth rapers everyone else is, but still owns a car, uses heat/AC, flys on planes, has kids, never walks or bicycles anywhere etc etc. ABSOLUTELY votes for corrupt politicians that will trample our rights and jack up taxes for the ‘greater good’.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Welcome to TTAC; spoiler alert…We really like stuff with combustion engines around here. You will most likely find the bulk of the writing and comments are going to be about said combustion engines and they type of packaging they come in.

    • 0 avatar
      Brett Woods

      Yes, these would have been so much more awesome thirty years ago. I get it that now the bloom is off the rose for you. All you hear is the deafening silence and your own laboured breathing as you fold and tuck away the last intoxicating dreams of power and freedom. Maybe choosing the last combustion chariot you will ever buy and imagining hammers so strong they can turn a wheel tall enough to reach Valhalla? Might as well lighten up kolonelpanik. Did you really want to live forever?

    • 0 avatar

      So, what do you think of my Yamaha 701 two stroke engine…In a just world, it is a water pump in a desert village, but here, it’s just a toy to toss in the river and zip around.

      All that gas I burn in impractical cars is entertainment. Most of the gas I burn in practical cars is as well. I’ve never hypermiled, and only get 20-25k out of a set of tires because I beat them to death.

      You may be happier on Streetsblog…they HATE cars.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    “The 650 to 797 hp available from the supercharged pony cars provide propulsion like a jet on take-off. While we can first question where one could sensibly use this power on public road…”

    605 north, firestone offramp. heard every day.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @kolonelpanic …I’m fairly confident that most folks aren’t buying “these vehicles” to use as a daily drivers.

    I respect your views. That being said, why are you reading, and commenting on an auto enthusiast site ?

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Thank you for the write up Anthony.

    I have found the 400 HP LS2 in my 05′ C6 to be the perfect steetable set-up. You can still row through a gear or 3 without committing a felony, in a lot of cases. The car handles great for a guy who has never driven on a race track, or been paid to wear a fire suit etc. While I am not opposed to 500 HP or better, I struggle with the idea of ‘how’ to drive that on the street without losing my license in a matter of days.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Not sure how these supercharged engines have flat torque curves. They usually build pressure like a normally aspirated engine because they don’t puff much at low rpm, I had once thought. Could well be wrong.

    But I’d like to know if modern Eaton superchargers or Lysholms can somehow be tailored to act like a modern turbo with lots of low-end torque while gasping at high revs – because I don’t know myself what the actual case is.

    I use this as my basic reference:

    http://www.jagweb.com/aj6eng/supercharging_article.php

  • avatar
    Michael S6

    Author forgot to mention that the base suspension is much more livable than the track geared suspension that will shake and rattle you during your daily hour commute. Unless you track the car, getting a suspension upgrade will have significant downside in ride quality, noise, and blown tires on our crappy roads.

  • avatar
    FThorn

    I recently drove the Redeye WB on Road America very fast. It was so nice. So much better than I would have imagined. TORQUE was great. Handled well even in slightly damp track condition.

  • avatar
    427Cobra

    It’s easy to fall into the mo’ fast/ mo’ power trap. Been there. I had a Cobra replica (612 hp/615 tq) that scared the crap out of me for the 8 years I owned it. Did I ever drive it at 9/10ths??? Nope. It was just for bragging rights. I sold it 3 years ago. A year later, I decided I needed another toy, & picked up an ’04 C5 Z06 with 8600 miles on it. Still fast & fun, but MUCH more comfortable… and getting around 30 mpg on the highway doesn’t suck. Then last year, I bought a ’17 Focus ST for a daily. I have to say… it is an absolute hoot to drive… easily rivaling the Z06 for giggles per mile. I’ve definitely come to appreciate the “slow car fast” mentality. If I want to soak up miles on the interstate, I usually defer to my ’16 Ram 2500… amazingly comfortable & quiet… tho 17-18 mpg kinda puts a dent in the wallet on long trips. Thinking of picking up a used Genesis (Equus or G80) in the next year or two, but we’ll see.

  • avatar
    Test Driver

    Anthony,

    Great post! It didn’t leave me clenching my teeth about all the nonsense usually found on most print and online auto media. You did leave out moment of inertia effects. But, at this point, this is a win. Maybe you can do a MOI piece about how much better the new Vette will be next.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks, Ramon! That’s a good point! Considering how much better the MOI is on a C7 vette compared to the Camaro, Mustang, or Challenger, I expect incremental gains. But it should be amazing and further set the Corvette apart! Not to mention the gains in braking and drive traction…

  • avatar

    Having worked my way through the Uber-cars of the Classic Car Club of NY, I totally agree with this article. You’ve so much engine (CTS-V, or Porsche GT3) that you can only drop the hammer getting onto one or two major freeways in my area. You pass illegal in a blink…get to fast in a second…and the third blink is death and mayhem, or at least arrest. The other 99.9 percent you are just noticing the hard ride… The car turned up to 11 is the same car you’ll see in the ads four years later, in great shape, with “only 7500 miles”. My neighbor gets press cars…we discussed the Nissan GT-R, which he borrowed and I got from the car club….we agreed that it’s useless as a DD as it rides too hard and what it does well is useless in commuting. Are the uber cars fun ? Oh yes…but like a model with a nose candy habit, one great night doesn’t translate into domestic bliss.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      As someone who has had a motorcycle accelerate out from under him, I can tell you that the alternative is that you get used to the power-to-weight ratio of a hyper-car and keep trying to feed your addiction with more power. I used to live near the Blue Ridge Moutains before my state became a left-wing dystopia, and I actually enjoyed driving on winding roads in unpopulated areas more than driving anything that can cover an eighth of a mile in less than five seconds. Unfortunately, these days driving really fast is best accomplished in something that can outrun a light aircraft.


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