Blog: Can you have too much of a good thing?


POWER is a wonderful thing to have, be it in your career, at your fingertips, or at a flex of your right foot…

How many times have you been stuck behind a slow moving Rover 800/Caravan combo on a long uphill stretch of single carriageway road and thought to yourself, ‘shall I or shan’t I pass?’ More often than not, discretion has got in the way, and you’ve decided to wait, safe in the knowledge that you’re going to get to where your going regardless.

In a Rover 75 Turbo diesel, these moments happen rather a lot, and a very relaxed attitude to motoring soon ensues. You bimble along at your own pace, content to watch the world go by… knowing you’ll get there eventually. However nice this may be, there are times you want to get somewhere in a hurry – and at times like this, there is no substitute for raw power…

I got a taste of this myself the other night when I had a play in a friend’s Subaru Impreza WRX around our local backroads. No ordinary Scooby was this, though – it had been on a trip to the rolling road, and had picked up a couple of grand’s worth of chipping, exhaust and suspension mods, with the end result being a hike in the maximum power output to a cool 335bhp.

How many times have you been stuck behind a
slow moving Rover 800/Caravan combo on a
long uphill stretch of single carriageway
road and thought to yourself, ‘shall I or
shan’t I pass?’

If there have been times I’ve thought a Rover 800 Vitesse or Citroen BX 16V was fast, then I was labouring under a very sad misapprehension. They are merely, ‘nippy’, and this Japanese hotshot is now my new benchmark what what actually constitutes ‘quick’. This level of acceleration re-defines your own ideas about stopping, cornering and overtaking. Quite simply, time and distance are compressed with the WRX, and in my eyes at least, that makes this a very safe car indeed.

Pulling out of a sideroad? No need to wait for a big gap – a car can be almost upon you, and you can still pull out in front of it, give it a dollop of throttle, turn the wheel, and BLAM – you’re in the traffic flow. No drama, no fuss, no braking from the car you’re pulling out in front of. Who says cars like these aren’t safe? Not me, that’s for sure.

So, the question remains – can all this power be too much? It has to be said, driving a car like this takes up great demands of your concentration – not so much keeping it in check, because it grips and brakes better than your ‘cooking’ car – in terms of keeping the speeds down to sensible levels on UK roads. I don’t mean give-and-take A- and B-roads, as traffic around you keeps you honest, but on country lanes and deserted byways. 100mph feels like 50mph – 120mph feels like 60mph – you get the idea. And although you’re in control and feel calm at the wheel when pressing on, there’s always those around that may not be…

So, yes, a car like this is potentially a VERY good thing in terms of active safety, while there are low powered cars around you, the speed differentials involved make it a slightly worrying proposition.

The obvious answer is to get rid of all the slow cars off our roads – without these, we can all get on with living our lives. Safely and enjoyably…

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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