As junior road test monkey for this august publication, I’m normally to be found chained to a computer, inputting the minutiae of spec into the latest version of the most comprehensive road test in the business. I am allowed out to play occasionally, however, and one of our best ‘away’ days is always our figuring sessions at the MIRA test facility. Here, you get to test cars’ (and your own) limits in relative safety.
My primary role at MIRA is usually Chief Laptop Holder during performance and handling tests. It is not a job for the motion-sick. But even from the passenger seat, it's an eye-opener, particularly when it comes to braking.
Put simply, modern cars are great at braking. Being a passenger in a full-scale emergency stop from 80mph is such a violent (and short) experience that you get the wind knocked out of you and, if you’re not prepared you’ll wind up with a stiff neck too. Most of the cars we test go from 80mph to stationary in about 55-metres, and take less than three seconds to do it.
So, next time we start talking about a car having poor brakes that fade on the track, remember that it’s all relative. Of course, if your tyres are worn-out it doesn’t matter how good your brakes are, but that’s another blog entirely…