High performance is vehicle design and construction specifically meant to deliver speed, power and stealth quickness. But sports cars and exotic models like Ferraris are not the only models to deliver on performance; in fact, this quality translates to higher standards for more models.
Luxury performance vehicles, from sedans to game changing SUVs, even models in the range of $20,000 and more, are reaching beyond the force of thrust to extraordinary style and exceptional handling.
What is high performance?
With technological advances in auto construction, the cylinders of an engine are not necessarily the only mark of power. A turbocharged V6 can actually match a V8’s power, and get better fuel economy while reducing weight on the front tires to improve handling. Automakers are discovering ways to turbo- and supercharge engines through direct injection, forced induction and variable valve timing to achieve less displacement and more horsepower. A high performance machine operates on both horsepower and more torque (force).
Performance by Numbers
High performance vehicles are often compared by their capability in time to go from 0 to 60 mph. Under 7 seconds is considered a fast car; under 5 seconds is a car that leaves you feeling in awe. The greatest thresholds in high performance cars achieve 0 to 60 in approximately 3 seconds. But speed is not the only performance number. Braking capability, judged by distance, is equally imperative to support. A performance car with summer weather tires can brake and come to a complete stop under 110 feet – a good measure.
Skid and Spin Control
Speed is only one factor. Performance vehicles are often qualified by a skid test, which reveals the complex interactions between the chassis and tires. Testing in circular laps (i.e. 200 ft. diameter) at threshold velocity, a skid test reveals the outer limits of handling and control.
Skid testing demonstrates a vehicle’s steering balance at speed; understeer (slides the front tires) or oversteer (slides the rear tires). Exceptional control exhibits a neutral balance in steering. This is critical, especially with quick changes in throttle position.
Performance lies in the drivetrain, which defines a vehicle as front-, rear- or all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive cars may result in handling imbalance with added power, such as understeering (pushing) or torque steering (where the engine overpowers the front wheels). Rear-wheel drive may requires driver skill if the rear wheels spin out with more power. Manufacturers are increasingly using all-wheel drive as more power can be delivered to the wheels without loss of traction providing a greater degree of control.
Going for a Quality Ride
Perhaps the biggest shift in auto making is that performance is not solely about speed and quickness. Control and handling are just as monumental to performance, and quality suspension systems deliver on the ride.
The “luxury” lies in the high-quality construction, compelling design style and the features of the car to a driver’s senses. From a quiet, smooth ride with tight handling that is visually appealing to navigation and comfort, performance is an all-the-way around package of quality attributes.