Fast Car, Slow Driver Vs Slow Car, Fast Driver – What Really Matters, HP or Skill?


That’s because any track has a few straight bits and, no matter how big the skill gap is, if your car is ten times quicker than the other one through there, it won’t matter how much you might be losing in the corners. In other words, it’s pretty hard to find a definite answer on what has a greater impact: the driver’s skill or the performance levels of the car because it’s all slightly… unquantifiable.

Well, the GT3 example we used earlier wasn’t the best pick because there aren’t that many cars out there that can come close to how good the 911 is on track, but scale things down a little (OK, a lot), and you might start to find matches that are much better suited.

As with so many other things in life, the perfect one probably doesn’t exist. If it did, it would be the one that yielded the exact same result for both the fast driver in the slow car and the slow driver in the fast car. Finding it, though, could turn into one’s single purpose in life, and quite frankly, it’s not a very fulfilling one.

So, the guys at Car Throttle had to settle for a pair of Hyundai i20s instead. It’s the same car, but with very different engines under the hood, not to mention a few other important distinctions as well. One is the i20 N, the small hot hatch from the South Korean manufacturer that gets a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine good for 201 hp and a useful maximum torque figure of 203 lb-ft (275 Nm).

The other is a Hyundai i20 N Line, which may sound very close to the first one but actually both is and isn’t. It’s got a much feebler three-cylinder 1.0-liter turbocharged engine with a mild hybrid system that puts out just 118 hp and 127 lb-ft (172 Nm) of torque. It’s almost four full seconds slower to 62 mph (100 kph), but it has more or less the same chassis (albeit with a lesser performance inclination) and, somewhat surprisingly for its underwhelming specs, the rev-matching feature you can find on the full-blown N as well (it matches the required revs when you downshift, so you don’t have to blip the throttle pedal to prevent engine braking).

Alex, the “fast driver” first sets a benchmark flying lap time in the i20 N, though we can’t really see how that was of any use. He probably just didn’t want to leave the track without having a go in the better car, and we can definitely understand him. After that, Ethan, the “slow driver”, does his best to try and match that. However, his time isn’t revealed before Alex does a few laps in the 118 hp i20 N Line as well.

Do you watch DIY videos and think “I could do that too if I had his tools?” Well, this is basically trying to answer that question: are the tools really what makes the difference, or does skill play a much more important role than some may think? While it may not be the most scientific method, it does at least make for a fun and nice to watch video.