Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hardest Working Powertrains In the Business

As with sports teams, smartphones and cars in general, not all horsepower ratings are created equal. The more instrumented tests you see the clearer it becomes that 200 horsepower from one brand does not necessarily result in the same performance as 200 horsepower from another. There are certainly some serious underachievers in the industry but for now let's keep it positive and take a look at three of the hardest working powertrain combinations (in alphabetical order) that make a mockery of physics and their competition.

Audi S6 4.0T V8

The current Audi S6 dropped a pair of cylinders and 1.2 liters of displacement between generations. It did gain a pair of turbos but on paper it lost 15 horsepower and gained only an irrelevant 8 lb-ft of torque. On paper the S6 represents a rare case of a new generation delivering less horsepower than before, something almost unheard of for a performance model. Thankfully, the S6 is an overachiever for the ages with magical turbos, all wheel drive grip and a dual clutch gearbox with launch control working in tandem to knock of nearly two seconds (3.7) from the sprint to 60 and add 11 mph (115) in the 1/4 mile trap speed versus the previous generation. It's one thing to compare models 6 years apart but let's see how the 4.0T compares to its contemporary competition. The Cadillac CTS Vsport brings the same 420 horsepower, more torque and less weight to the table yet it's almost a second slower to 60 and about 2.5 seconds to 130. The CTS Vsport is no slouch but it's hard to believe that the S6 is only packing 420 horsepower when it delivers performance on par with the 556 horsepower CTS-V.

BMW X5 xDrive 50i V8

Much like the Audi, the BMW V8 features a twin-turbo "inside out" V8. The X5 brings an impressive 445 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque to the game but also lugs around over 5,300 pounds. The damage is a 0-60 time of only 4.3 seconds and a 12.8 @ 108 1/4 mile. Both times are scary for an SUV and represent improvements of almost a second compared to a lighter first generation sibling X6 with the first iteration of the same V8. In fact, the "regular" 50i is only a few tenths slower than the previous generation X5 M with 555 horsepower. Once again comparing to contemporary competition the X5 50i is over a second quicker to 100 mph than the slightly lighter Jeep Grand Cheeroke SRT8 with 470 horsepower. Like the Audi, this is another case of a twin-turbo V8 producing a bit more power than advertised combined with all wheel drive grip and a quick shifting gearbox. Ferrari 550 Maranello drivers beware!

Tesla Model S

Unlike the Audi and the BMW, the Model S doesn't benefit from all wheel drive grip or a quick shifting multi ratio gearbox. Like the twin-turbo V8s it does however deliver its maximum torque very low in its RPM range, at 0 RPM in fact. This helps launch the 4,633 pound Model S to 60 in only 3.9 seconds. Quite impressive given the weight and only 416 horsepower. For comparison purposes it takes 550 horsepower for the 300 pounds lighter Jaguar XJR to post a similar 0-60 time, the Jaguar does run away from that point forward to be fair. Horsepower might sell cars as the saying goes, but toque right of the bat wins stop light duels.

No comments:

Post a Comment