As you'll read in these pages next week, I've just had three days driving the Lamborghini Aventador and it's got me thinking. And I've come to the conclusion that road cars are getting too powerful these days.
The Lambo might be four-wheel drive and have some pretty amazing electronics to keep it planted on terra firma but, seriously, 700hp is ridiculous. Even though I've been driving for 23 years, and have experienced some crazy machinery in my time, it scared me. Fine in a straight line but hit even a sweeping bend and I couldn't trust it to not throw me into the Armco.
Yes, 700hp. When I was a teenager, obsessively pouring over car magazines, a supercar needed just half that amount of firepower to be considered mad, bad and dangerous.
Those cars always had their power sent to the rear wheels only, they never had air bags, rarely had anti-lock brakes and almost always took years for even talented drivers to master. You had to respect them, wary that they would bite when you least expected it. They were brutal, rare and incredibly exciting. I worry that we've now had too much of a good thing because I'm starting to feel that even 450hp just isn't enough for a performance car these days.
One of the most incredible cars I've ever experienced is the old Porsche 911 Turbo. It was Porsche's flagship for almost 15 years and, even in its most powerful LE incarnation, its engine displaced 3.3L and put out a puny (by today's standards) 330hp. That's less than half what the Aventador expects its drivers to handle. And yet, here's the thing: the 911 Turbo was the world's fastest accelerating production car for many a year and every time I've driven one I've thought, "this is enough".
They're scary, formidable cars that, even though they went out of production the year I started driving, excite in a way few others can.
The enemy for sports and supercars, of course, is weight. The Bentley featured on page eight this week, for instance, weighs just under 2.5 tonnes and, to achieve the speeds that drivers expect these days, the Continental needs ludicrous amounts of horsepower.
And this is fine, to a point. The real problems come when inexperienced young drivers, who are privileged enough to possess the requisite funds to buy these things, get behind the wheel. All the electronic wizardry, they think, will keep them safe from harm. But 700hp takes a lot to control and, inevitably, some drivers will meet an untimely end when they run out of luck, talent or road space.
Where will it end? Ferrari is reportedly soon to unveil a successor to the Enzo and it will produce a minimum of 800hp. There isn't a road in the world where you'll be able to fully exploit that kind of power. And don't think for a moment that I've gone all soft - it's just that, for me to truly feel connected with anything or anyone, I need to know that they're not out to kill me.
I'm recalibrating and getting real. I don't need a billion horsepower to get my motoring kicks - I just need a car that's nimble, relatively light, nice looking and one that loves cornering, not just going like a bullet in a straight line. And you know what? My humble Scirocco fits the bill nicely. But when the timing is right, and there are sufficient funds gathering dust, I'll always find space for an old 911 Turbo.