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MrFiat
11-18-2011, 11:31 AM
It seems to me there could be many possible ways to define automotive "performance". It also strikes me that any such definition could be relative to the type of vehicle being rated. In other words, do you think it is valid to consider the "performance" of every vehicle using the same criteria? It's a loaded question as I suspect that "performance" will be a very personal and subjective topic. :cower:
I think this could be an important discussion especially as (if) our North American market begins a migration toward smaller, more efficient European type vehicles. Since I sense some disappointment with "only" 160 horsepower in the upcoming Abarth, I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on what "performance" really means to you.

demonpoodle
11-18-2011, 11:44 AM
interesting topic.

to me, "performance" is more based on handling as aposed to sheer power. after all, in a course with lots of turns, an underpowered car can compete with if not beat something more powerful just difference in control on the curves. sure some power is nice but is it necessary on a spirited drive on regular roads? can you really use all 500hp of your beast (without driving recklessly)?

blefevre
11-18-2011, 12:10 PM
Performance to me is how the brakes, chassis, suspension, and engine/transmission work together on the track. Weather it's slow or fast lap times, that doesn't matter to me. As long as the car behaves well with itself it will be a blast to drive. Hopefully the Abarth does this for me.

Felnus
11-18-2011, 05:19 PM
I don't have access to a race track close by but I do have some of the greatest curving mountain roads in world (including US 129 The Dragon) within a day trip's reach. Performance for me is more handling than anything. Cars with double my horsepower or more can't keep up with me on a winding road because they can't use the all that power.

As the old saying goes, it's much more fun to drive a slow car fast than drive a fast car slow. For me, in a perfect world, my 500 Sport would have about 15 to 20 more horsepower. I'm betting that would be possible with aftermarket parts and ECU tuning but I don't know if I want to make the monetary investment and lose the nice quiet ride. I love to hear the engine when I'm getting on it but I enjoy the quiet cruising too. Tough call. I must be growing up or something. :)

blefevre
11-18-2011, 05:30 PM
Yep, same here! I live in Colorado so I DD mountain roads.

geeded
11-18-2011, 06:10 PM
It's a balance thing. I too live in the mountains (western NC), 2 hrs from the Dragon. This part of the country is nirvana for a great handling car. The best I've ever owned and driven here was a 2004 VW R32. It sounded great (I mean REALLY great), did what I asked it to, and had some left over. Although not overpowered, it always had as punch much as I needed, and I never wanted (operative word) for more. That car is my benchmark. A car that works with me and helps me drive quickly and actually has just a touch more braking/handling/acceleration than I will normally access.

Notice I said quickly, not fast. Fast here will get you killed. It's rural and tractors and pickups abound. So fun at a reasonable speed. My modded '65 Beetle can do that but it could use a "few" more horses than the 40 it has. The MINI is great and I'm hoping the replacement Abarth will be also.

Cheers

johnnyquest
11-18-2011, 07:05 PM
interesting topic.

to me, "performance" is more based on handling as aposed to sheer power. after all, in a course with lots of turns, an underpowered car can compete with if not beat something more powerful just difference in control on the curves. sure some power is nice but is it necessary on a spirited drive on regular roads? can you really use all 500hp of your beast (without driving recklessly)?

I completely agree, and if I may add...a vehicle's performance capability is ultimately limited by the skill of the driver. Several years ago, I used to do SCCA autocross on the weekends with my daily driver, a 2002.5 VW Jetta GLI. I've seen guys (and girls) in very powerful performance cars get spanked by guys (and girls) in Miatas, Civics, Celicas, and Mini Coopers. I, with slightly above average driving skills, would regularly beat up on a guy who always showed up in a BMW M Roadster. On paper, his car should have ran circles around me. Conversely, an an autocross course anyways, it takes a lot more skill to drive, say, a Corvette quickly than a WRX or even a Miata because you have so much power available it's very easy to bring the back end around.

I always find it interesting that people will argue performance numbers until they are blue in the face, and some will only buy the car with the best numbers, yet most drivers have average driving skills at best.

JQ

Felnus
11-18-2011, 07:32 PM
I think you are giving most drivers too much credit. :) Becoming a better driver will make any car faster. It's the easiest modification you can make to improve your car's performance. And nothing beats spanking a car at the track that cost twice what yours did.

I love pizza
11-18-2011, 08:29 PM
It's a balance thing. I too live in the mountains (western NC), 2 hrs from the Dragon. This part of the country is nirvana for a great handling car. The best I've ever owned and driven here was a 2004 VW R32. It sounded great (I mean REALLY great), did what I asked it to, and had some left over. Although not overpowered, it always had as punch much as I needed, and I never wanted (operative word) for more. That car is my benchmark. A car that works with me and helps me drive quickly and actually has just a touch more braking/handling/acceleration than I will normally access.

Notice I said quickly, not fast. Fast here will get you killed. It's rural and tractors and pickups abound. So fun at a reasonable speed. My modded '65 Beetle can do that but it could use a "few" more horses than the 40 it has. The MINI is great and I'm hoping the replacement Abarth will be also.

Cheers

As a former MkIV R32 owner myself, I know what you mean by benchmark, oddly enough snow "performance" was incredible in that car, living in a snow belt made driving that car in winter an absolute blast. I agree with many that its just not one thing that characterizes performance, its the whole enchilada. That being said, I feel from my test drives in the regular 500 that I had to time my passes on the highway and thats a hard one to swallow for me. It pretty much killed my chances of owning a Sport. I'm hoping the extra power in the Abarth rounds out the package. I won't buy it until i drive it though, at least in my opinion the new Mini Coupe S is a strong competitor.

MrFiat
11-18-2011, 08:45 PM
Thank you for all the excellent input folks. Keep it coming. I think we're getting somewhere. It sounds like a consensus is developing here. Performance seems to be a matter of good acceleration, good traction, good braking, good steering, and good cornering all working seamlessly together in one package, eh?
Hmmmm --- Now if only we could get that combination in a package that looks good, sounds good, is comfortable, isn't quirky in traffic, turns heads, and won't set you back the price of a Ferrari, you'd certainly have something worth considering wouldn't you. Oh, Wait! We do. :eagerness: