0-60 just under 5 sec
1/4 mi 12.7 @ 110.7
|1998 Carrera S|
0-60 just over 5 sec
1/4 mi 13.5 @ 102
(Still the one I want to drive)
Horsepower is great if you're comparing the same car before and after modifications.
Heck, who doesn't love spending the day lashed down to a chassis dyno.
Power to weight ratio defines an experience much more tactile than horsepower alone. I'm not going to turn this into Wikipedia, but basically a light, powerful car is faster than a heavy car with the same power. Most fun things in a car happen faster when a car is lighter. Why do you think race cars have no cup holders? Because that Big Gulp is heavy and robs power.
The common consensus is for every 10lb you can lose in a car, you've effectively created 1 additional hp. A perfect ratio is about more than just light cars and powerful motors, but that's a good start. With modern materials and techniques emerging all the time ten, but a good ratio is hard to beat and will satisfy your soul. Clearly, understanding your power to weight ratio beats sitting on your couch Googling up a hp rating.
The nature of a sports car's power curve defines your acceleration experience. By power curve I mean the linear progression of hp vs. rpm on any dyno sheet. Most people can't look at a curve and tell you what will feel exciting, which is too bad. Often a curve that escalates steeply as the rpms climb can feel quit exhilarating, providing the rpms climb at a satisfactory rate of speed. "Yahoo" is often yelled out when a car climbs in rpm and power at the perfect rate. Flattening this curve, so more power comes on early in the rpm range, is the goal of any complicated intake system. This does not necessarily mean a car will feel more fun, but does mean it will be faster. Good examples of exhilarating climbs up the power curve would be early turbo cars and sport bikes.
Up next is power delivery. How power is translated into motion is a huge factor in car satisfaction. Transmissions can soak up power and turn it into boredom or bliss. Clutch design, shifting, gear ratios and torque converters can make or break a sports car experience. Suspension then delivers that power onto the asphalt in a satisfying or unsatisfying way. Modern electronics can manage some of the shortcomings of a poor suspension design, but I think we would like to think our dream car is truly a masterpiece in both engineering and programming, right?
Horsepower is a factor, but it is not the factor in evaluating a sports car. Regardless of the different driving dynamics in a car, getting a higher horsepower number may not mean as much as you think. Hp ratings measured from near the red line may not have an impact on your perception of performance in a street driven car. Peak power is what everyone reports, but you may find the actual torque curve unimpressive until at high rpm. Heck, many camshaft and intake modifications actually lose power in the rpm range you spend the most time using. Next time your see a big comparison article don't be like me and just look at the pictures and performance statistics, read it too.