PORSCHE now makes the fastest car in the world – and all it took was a 16-year-old schoolgirl who likes hanging out with her mates and eating pizzas to prove it.
Oh alright, so the girl in question, Chloe Chambers, is a karting champion, and the silverware presumably in the post to Stuttgart is for a very specific measurement of speed. The 718 Spyder, a lowered, stripped-out version of the Boxster, is now officially the world’s fastest car at weaving its way through a slalom marked out by 50 traffic cones, and it’ll have an entry somewhere on the Guinness World Records website to prove it. Take that, Bugatti!
But Chloe and her chums – the highly-paid ones who work for Porsche, not the ones eagerly awaiting a Domino’s delivery – might be onto something. We now know that the 718 Spyder will slither through a Guinness-officiated slalom in precisely 47.45 seconds, but we have no concept of how good that really is because we don’t know how quickly a standard 718 Boxster or Cayman can crack it. Nor do we know how capably a BMW Z4, an Audi TT RS or a Mercedes-AMG SLC43 would manage the challenge. I think we should, because it’s a far more relevant measure of what a car’s capable of than top speeds or 0-60mph times.
How quickly a car can wriggle through a set of cones not only reveals how agile it is, but it’ll also give you a fairly good readout of how it’ll behave should things go pear-shaped. Anyone who remembers the original Mercedes A-Class and how ended up with egg on its face – or more accurately, asphalt on its roof – after an encounter with a slalom ended badly will already know what I’m on about.
Suppose you have to swerve to avoid something on the motorway. Even if you aren’t a teenage karting champion with the reflexes of a caffeine-fuelled cheetah, you’re far more likely to emerge unscathed in a 718 Spyder than you are in a Jeep Wrangler. Equally, and even if the differences are minute by comparison, I’d wager that a Vauxhall Corsa is going to better react to sudden changes of direction than the new Mokka will.
I’d love to see carmakers take slalom times as seriously as they do the dash to sixty and Euro NCAP ratings, because if they did then there’d be far more effort to shed excess weight and lower their cars’ centres of gravity.
That’d mean not only better handling in an emergency, but better fuel economy and smarter design.
Obviously, the car nuts would benefit too, as our daily drivers would look better and be much, much more fun on a quiet B-road.
Cheers, Chloe, for reminding us that great cars are about so much more than straight-line speed.
I doubt I’ll be able to match your time any time soon – but does anyone fancy lending me a 718 Spyder to try anyway?
David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly