Power in times of change

In our March 2009 issue, the principle theme we have running through the pages of Automan is one of power. The Sequoia on the cover brings Toyota’s 5.7-litre V8 to centre stage in the big SUV market and the ferocious 6.2-litre with its supercharged enhancement takes a relatively good-mannered CTS luxury sedan to the realms of supercarland with its 6.2-litre unit. And of course, we can’t forget the brilliant RS6 in all this. You know that people have to be seeking new goals when you have such releases happening at a time when consumers and governments alike are embracing the realism of smaller engines and alternate drivetrains.

The challenge is of course with recognising just how much to pander to the affluent business and first class consumer as opposed to the economy segment. Airlines have done this with mixed success, throwing in multi-floor lounges, limousine rides and ‘haute’ cuisine to entice the higher fare paying capable elite. Car makers do the same, but with varying approaches. You have only economy lines, mixed ones and then there are the marques that run all business and first class models. Fortunately for modern consumers, there is no such thing as one size fits all in automotive terms.

More power is usually taken to imply better performance. While that is not a trueism, more power is always welcome, especially if you are in a position to digest the higher cost associated with it or indeed, if you are driving powerful cars without paying for the fuel or the car itself – like we do day in and day out in Automan.

The fact remains that our part of the world is one of the few that can still offer a decent marketsize for cars of the ilk. We have the roads to drive these large-hearted icons and are usually able to afford the costs that they bring along as well. We may not always have engine sizes as large as those that the US consumer is used to, but we fare better than consumers in Europe and Asia, especially in mainstream models. What remains to be seen is whether fuel prices will rise high enough and remain there long enough to wean the US consumer from their staple V6s and V8s, making it tougher for large engines to  be offered in a model line in the first place.

The internal combustion engine still has some way to go before it becomes an anachronism. We hope that the larger volumed and more powerful of the breed also manage to survive the journey into the future and don’t end up in a premature end as museum pieces.


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