When it comes to assessing the performance potential of a car, the 0-60mph test still rules the roost. Regardless of its relevance in the real world, the ability for a car to scrabble from standstill to the national speed limit (in the UK) as quickly as possible is a handy shorthand for what you can expect when you put your foot down and head for the horizon. Or is it?
You see, acceleration claims for new performance cars are easy to make, but often tricky or even misleading to compare. When it comes to standing-start acceleration, judging cars on like-for-like terms isn’t always easy, with slightly different benchmarking standards often skewing your comparisons.
European manufacturers most commonly claim standing-start acceleration for their cars in 0-62mph because it’s equivalent to 0-100kmh; but some UK-based firms still claim 0-60mph instead. Meanwhile some American-based car-makers who claim 0-60mph performance do it on the basis of a ‘one-foot rollout’ drag-strip-style performance measure which disregards the first foot of the car’s acceleration run, and therefore isn’t a fair basis for comparison with any ‘from rest’ figure. Because this is now such conventional practice in North America, it’s usually not even acknowledged, making it very problematic to compare standing start acceleration claims made by, say, Chevrolet or Tesla with those of Porsche, Ferrari or Mercedes-AMG.
Even if everyone dealt in like-for-like terms where acceleration claims are concerned, though, isn’t there a better and more representative measurement of real-world performance potential than a 0-60mph claim? The answer’s yes; and it’s one that also balances out the advantages often given to brand-new performance cars by super-sticky ‘cup’ tyres, electronic launch control systems, active four-wheel drive systems, and torque-rich electric motors that can, between them, provide performance that’s much more instant than it is long-lasting. There's no such confusion here at Autocar, because we conduct all our own, independent road testing, meaning every car has been through exactly the same process, so consisitency is guaranteed.
Below is a list of the fastest-accelerating performance cars we've every strapped our calibrated, GPS-based timing gear to. They are ranked not on 0-60mph pace but instead primarily in order of their roll-on, through-the-gears acceleration from 30- to 70mph; with standing quarter-mile acceleration used to break any ties arising between cars of the same pace. In many ways this is a far more representative test, because it's a truer reflection of how we use a car's perforamance. Almost nobody sits at the traffic lights waiting to drop the clutch quick-smart for a tyre-smoking getaway, but most of us do zap up to the national speed limit when joining a motorway, or when overtaking slower traffic on an otherwise clear single carrigeway.
More to the point, we're not dealing in manufacturer’s claims here. These are verified acceleration statistics repeated and averaged out over two directions and on a level surface; in cars fully fuelled and with two occupants onboard; not fluked on one occasion and in one direction with a following wind, or conducted on some gluey dragstrip surface that’s worth a few bonus tenths off the line. This is our definitive, empirically backed list of the fastest road cars to which we’ve ever fixed timing gear. And you’ll be amazed what misses the cut.