Research results by the University of Duisburg-Essen, in the Ruhr area, are clear: Germans want cars with more horsepower. Never before did cars sold in Germany have a higher average power rating.
To be frank, I don’t think these research results are limited to Germany. My expectation is that markets around the world would exhibit the exact same characteristics. I’m no expert in road behaviour psychology or anything, but I think there’s just one big reason for us motorists wanting the extra power: because we can get it.
Underlying that are two other matters. Firstly, factors such as weight and aerodynamic resistance kept constant, a car with more horses under the bonnet will go faster and, provided it also has more torque, which is often the case, accelerate faster too. Gearheads, like myself, will see the fun in that, but even the most fern-loving Prius-drivers will have to admit that it’s generally a lot safer to overtake a truck or agricultural vehicle when the speed difference is larger. Ergo, speed doesn’t just kill, it also helps get past slower road users quicker and safer. And the good thing is, according to the German research mentioned above, the extra horses don’t need extra fuel due to new technologies.
So, exactly how quickly are those horses multiplying? In Germany, the average car sold this year has a power output of 138 horsepower. Last year this was only 135 and the year before that it was 130. At that rate – four horses per annum – the average car will have 200 horses in just sixteen years.
Of course the average is only an average and power will vary per brand as well. Porsches chuck out an average of 323 hp. The average Audi 179 and Merc 175. As a Bimmer fan it’s good to know BMW’s are the strongest of the three premium Gerries, at 194 bucking broncos. Just too bad it also means my own BMW is merely average.