Pulling up to the starting line at the Lucas Oil Speedway’s drag strip, I slip into line lock mode, locking down the front tires and letting the back wheels spin furiously. The cherry red Dodge Challenger all but vanishes in a cloud of smoke as the “Christmas tree” begins its countdown. Blink, blink, blink. Green.
As fast as I can release the brakes, tap the steering wheel–mounted paddle shifter, and slam the throttle, the nose of the Dodge Demon lifts nearly two feet off the ground as the coupe blasts down the tarmac: 10, 30, 70, 100 mph. I blow through the quarter-mile traps in barely 9.7 seconds, clocking an impressive 135 mph.
For those who might have thought the muscle car era was over, the debut of the 840 horsepower Demon should get you thinking again. If anything, this is the new “golden age” of performance cars. While the Dodge coupe may be the most powerful V-8-powered car to ever roll off an assembly line, there are a handful of even more exotic models pumping out up to nearly 1,500 horsepower. And there are plenty of more mundane cars—including an array of family-oriented minivans and SUVs—turning out numbers in the 300 to 500 horsepower range.
Would such a car be excessive for a real estate professional driving families and their young children around town? That depends on how you look at it. The Demon, for one, is targeted at buyers going to the drag strip over the weekend. But beyond the pure thrill of fast acceleration, there are some good reasons—including safety advantages—to have plenty of power at your right foot when you’re out on business. And for those who think you can’t be mean and green—surprise! New performance technologies can deliver the sort of mileage once reserved for econocars. Some, in fact, use no fuel at all.
Take the Tesla Model S P100d. It’s not only the longest-range battery-electric vehicle on the road, clocking 300 miles per charge, but it’s also the fastest. Hammer the throttle, and you’ll top 60 mph in a neck-snapping 2.3 seconds—within an eye-blink of the Dodge Demon. At a cost of more than $100,000, it doesn’t come cheap. But the new $35,000 Tesla Model 3 is only a couple seconds slower.
Until recently, you could just about boil an egg in the time it took for a battery car to get up to freeway speeds. That was one reason they weren’t catching on. Anyone who has tried to merge from an entrance ramp or pass on a busy local road knows horsepower has some real advantages. You actually have more of an opportunity to maneuver your way out of a potentially unsafe situation, notes Autos.com.
Let’s face it, while you might not want to act like a boy racer, snapping the neck of a client, a bit of power is as impressive as any other luxury attribute. But yes, you can pay through the nose for performance. The quad-turbo, 16-cylinder Bugatti Chiron pumps out 1,479 horsepower—enough to hit 261 mph. The price? A cool $3 million.
For those who are on a more constrained budget or simply looking for something more suitable for your business and family, you might be surprised to see how today’s mainstream models are bulking up. Check out three of the new 2018 models from Honda. The Civic Type-R hatchback hammers out a full 316 horsepower. The same 4-cylinder engine has been detuned for the redesigned Honda Accord but still makes 278 horsepower. And that classic family-hauler, the Honda Odyssey? Call it a “soccer mom mobile,” if you dare. The newly redesigned 2018 model makes a hefty 280 ponies. To put that into perspective, Honda’s minivan now makes about 100 horsepower more than a Porsche 911 or a Mustang GT did back in the 1980s.
The new 2018 Chevrolet Traverse, a three-row, seven-passenger minivan alternative, punches the numbers up to 310 horsepower, yet still manages 27 miles per gallon. And it offers the advantage of towing a trailer of up to 5,000 pounds in case you need extra tow on the weekends. Even some of the hottest gasoline-powered performance cars are delivering phenomenal mileage. While it’s not a car you’re likely to take to work, the Chevy Corvette you saved up your commissions for can manage nearly 30 mpg if you’re not putting your foot to the floor.
These days, automakers are giving a big performance boost to virtually everything, from subcompact hatchbacks to full-size SUVs. That’s no surprise, considering utility vehicles are the hottest products on the market these days. But what happens if and when gas prices start to rise again? And what about the federal fuel economy standards, which are set to rise to an average 54.5 mpg by 2025 (if the Trump administration doesn’t roll the mandate back)?
Don’t expect performance cars to vanish, as they nearly did back in the 1970s and ’80s. They’re likely to evolve—perhaps radically. The Tesla Model S, with its optional, high-performance ludicrous mode could be the face of the future. Then there’s the new battery-electric Lucid Air, the sort of vehicle that any well-heeled real estate pro might want. Due to be released in late 2018, it features a lavishly equipped cabin with business jet–style rear seating and more than 300 miles range. It also happens to top out at well over 200 miles an hour.
Indeed, three of the fastest cars ever built—the LaFerrari, the McLaren P1, and the Porsche 917 Spyder—were all hybrids. Yep, the Prius isn’t the only example of what happens when you pair a gas engine with an electric motor. Even Ford is getting ready to roll out a hybrid version of its familiar “pony car,” the Mustang. And for those who might miss the visceral roar of a classic V-8 Mustang GT, expect Ford to use some digital tricks to simulate that sound.
So, even with higher fuel prices and tougher regulations, expect the new golden age of performance to be with us well into the future.