Strange times, these. Half of the world is looking at cars to give the planet a big, happy cuddle; the other half is pushing as much power out of their engines as emissions rules allow.
It's a bizarre contrast between the hippy and the hoon, driven almost entirely by two things -- there's an imperative for car companies to reduce carbon footprints in keeping with the whims of the EU's patchouli and incense division; and there's a want to get some big, nasty performance figures out the door before the rulebook drops another few numbers off the carbon demands.
Like most people that don't paint their fingernails black and live in a permanent state of "meh", I quite like our planet. I certainly believe it's worth keeping, despite the damage already applied by a combination of farting cows, errant air fresheners and, allegedly, cars. The present moves to get huge power figures -- like those spat out by our Jaguar cover car -- are an impressive side effect of the drive to reduce emissions. The extensive use of turbocharging, clean diesels (in terms of C02, not NOX) and tricks such as light cylinder sleeving and direct fuel injection has allowed some serious performance out of very small displacement engines.
It also means the big engines do frightening things with the same tech.
While the electric and hybrid world struggles a bit in markets like ours where the Government feels that a no-help, no-subsidy, no-comment approach to zero and low emission vehicles is the way to go, eventually there's going to have to be compromise. Other markets have far cheaper Earth-loving machinery entirely as a result of their respective governments doing what can only be described as the right thing.
For more car news go to nzherald.co.nz/driven