Why Do Family Cars Need 300 Horsepower?

We live in a time of rampant horsepower overkill. Why does the family sedan need 300hp? Why does Timmy's first car need 260hp?

I wonder where this is all going. It's sort of like the megapixel wars we saw camera makers go through just a few years back, or the screen resolution battle that's going on right now in the cell phone industry. We already have way more than enough power to get around town, why do we need to quadruple that?


Don't get me wrong, I love going fast more than I probably should. My history of speeding tickets speaks for itself, but there comes a point where it all gets a little... ridiculous.

In my piddling little 138hp 318ti, I can floor it just about everywhere (and often do). There's something so satisfying about kicking up the revs and down shifting up an on-ramp that will never get old — yet I feel like this becoming a thing of the past. Those little nuances and techniques that are required if you're going to get up to speed in an under powered car are something that I feel will be lost on the coming generations. There's simply no need anymore.

In a time where you can have over 400 horsepower for under 30 grand, there's no need to worry about technique or timing — just put the hammer down and hopefully stay in your lane.

Down shifting? Is that what makes my car louder when I'm merging on the freeway?


WTF is a heel toe? You do what? You're only supposed to put your foot on one pedal at a time, bro.

Oversteer? Dude, just turn the wheel less.

Horsepower is like money, it should be earned and built up to, not handed all at once. That's how things become under appreciated.


This piece was written by reader Garrett Davis in response to our article on the 1977 Fiat 127 Sport, "When 70 Horsepower Meant The World."
Photo Credit: BMW

Share This Story

Get our newsletter