Motorsports enthusiasts, muscle car enthusiasts, and supercar owners all have one thing in common: they seem to pick on the market of underpowered sports cars (not always, but it isn’t uncommon). The aftermarket support for enhancing the performance and handling of a vehicle can range widely based on individual sports cars, but it seems that everyone is always looking to build a faster car or build their current car to be faster. While there is a lot of excitement and enjoyment to be had in having a fast, high horsepower sports car, there are still plenty of reasons why a comparable underpowered sports car is a better option for your daily driver.
1.) How fast do you actually need to go?
While having a super-fast sports car is fun on paper, chances are you won’t be legally going over 70 mph in your daily commute, even on the highway. While it’s fun to brag about quarter-mile times and to have a fast 0 – 60 mph acceleration, it isn’t reasonable nor responsible to launch your car from every stop. In the same sense, having a vehicle with a high top speed definitely wins bragging rights, but you will never need to go anywhere near your vehicle’s top speed on any public surface road, anyways. In most driving situations, having an underpowered sports car is just fine.
2.) Agile sports cars can be more enjoyable in traffic
On your daily route, chances are you face a decent amount of traffic. In this case, you won’t be able to enjoy the full power of your vehicle’s drivetrain, but you can enjoy a lower horsepower car that’s lightweight and agile. While zipping between cars at highway speeds should only be done when necessary, and when there is a safe traveling and passing distance, having an underpowered sports car can be just as enjoyable in traffic. Don’t believe me? Daily driving my Lotus Elise was one of my favorite impractical sports cars to take on my daily commute, and it has less horsepower than my used Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid.
3.) Underpowered sports cars typically offer better fuel economy
Sure, the Dodge Viper puts down an impressive amount of power, but once you even slightly modify the engine, you’re looking at anywhere between 6 mpg to 16 mpg (at least in our Gen 3 Vipers). Lower horsepower sports cars typically have smaller, more fuel-efficient engines and are sometimes boosted with the addition of a turbocharger to give the car a bit of pep — a trick many car manufacturers are using the improved fuel economy without compromising the driving experience of many cars.
4.) It’s safer to drive underpowered sports cars in less-than-ideal weather
High horsepower cars are a lot of fun, especially on the drag strip, but they aren’t always the safest option when conditions aren’t ideal. On wet, muddy, or icy roads, high horsepower sports cars can prove to be rather dangerous — as we learned one not-so-dry day with our Dodge Viper. While the safety of your vehicle has more to do with your speed, safety systems, and sometimes having all-wheel drive versus rear or front-wheel drive, the speed you are going and your ability to correct can sometimes be affected by the vehicle’s power.
Sure, there are still plenty of reasons to invest in a high horsepower sports car, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t also valid reasons for buying a comparably underpowered sports car for your daily drive. Now, with sports cars mixing in luxury and comfort, it isn’t unreasonable to daily drive one, in fact, many new fun cars were designed to be affordable and practical cars that could be driven every day, making them a great purchase even though they aren’t toting an impressive amount of horsepower.