By on September 22, 2017

BMW acceleration, Image: Bigstock

Did you notice that TTAC was short one article by yours truly this week? Probably not — but if you did, allow me to explain the reason. I’ve spent the entire week doing testing for Road & Track’s Performance Car Of The Year issue. Today, I drove 10 mostly brilliant and remarkably capable vehicles against the clock around the NCM West course, ranging from a Honda Civic Type R to a Lamborghini Huracan Performante and a McLaren 720S.

I think that a lap around NCM West is a good indicator of a car’s speed, insofar as it includes everything from a straight-line drag race to some unpleasant off-camber turns that can send a car sideways at freeway speeds or well above. If you asked me how fast a car was, I would suggest you let me drive it around NCM West — only then would I be able to tell you.

Since doing that is expensive and often impractical, most people measure automotive speed the old-fashioned way: they read Car and Driver. But that still doesn’t settle the issue: what is the proper yardstick of automotive pace?

Two weeks ago, I told you that I believed the new Camry to be wickedly fast and very possibly the fastest four-cylinder Japanese family sedan on the market. This week, Tim Cain told you that the Camry isn’t that quick, and he used some data from C/D to do it. A few of my readers used the same data in responding to my comments as well.

I don’t think 0-60 means anything in the context of modern automobiles. Most freeways in this country nowadays run at 75-90 when the road ahead is clear of traffic and law enforcement. Which suggests that the quarter-mile is a better measurement — but that time can be heavily affected by traction off the line.

After some thought, I’ve come to believe that trap speed at the end of the quarter is all that really matters for street-driven cars. It’s rare for me to exceed 110 mph on the street nowadays, because I’m a sad old man who wants to watch his son graduate from high school. If you can tell me how quickly a car gets to 120 mph or so, that’s all I want to know. Since quarter-mile trap speed is more widely reported than 0-120 times, that’s good enough for me.

What about you? Do you use 0-60 times to bench race? Quarter-miles? Corrected or uncorrected? Do you trust your local dragstrip more than the math-adjusted results at the major magazines? Or are you patiently waiting for me to tell you how the new six-speed Porsche GT3 handles that long front straight at NCM?

[Image: Ivan Kurmyshov/Bigstock]

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76 Comments on “QOTD: How Do You Measure Fast?...”

  • avatar

    I’ve never had a car that could go 120 so I measure fast with 0-60 since it’s more realistic. Just my 0.02$.

    • 0 avatar

      Today, starts from a stop are usually limited by grip or how well the traction control is calibrated. Vehicles have more power/torque and usually overwhelm the tires/soft suspension bushing as they are loading up from a static position. Look at a 0-60 mph time of a 2017 LaCrosse on YouTube and the TC light is flickering though every run until it is disengaged.

      The biggest problem with 1/4 mph trap speed is it is an average of the last 60 feet. Or the time it takes to make an up shift at close to 100 mph. So knowing 3rd and 4th gear top speeds would be needed. C/D used to give speed at 1,000 rpms and you could figure top speed knowing auto trans shift rpms or redline. R/T used to have top speed in each gear too at one time.

      The best metric I’ve found is 60-100 mph times. These are both report in both magazines but C/D weather correction is a little more bias towards being the fastest reported times. A 60-100 mph time of 8-9 seconds is good for 100 mph 1/4 mile. 6-7s is in the 105 mph. Where 5s is 117+ 1/4 mile.

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      How many new cars (trucks/vans/SUVs etc. included) can’t hit 120? The list is probably very short.

  • avatar

    I like the “rolling start” metric that some magazines publish now. The top gear acceleration tests come to mind too, even if that test unfairly maligns manual transmission equipped cars.

    • 0 avatar

      Ditto, I’d love to see 5-60mph become the norm. That helps level the field on traction a bit.

      Honestly, though, 40-70 would probably be the most useful metric of all. That’s the “highway onramp index.”

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, but Sudden Acceleration from Toyota has some manufacturers making them painfully slow unless brake torqued from a stop or from 5 mph on up.

  • avatar

    When I was younger, it was whatever was the fastest I could afford.

    As I’ve gotten older, I don’t really care about 0-60 and how “fast” a car is. It’s good for comparison, but there’s always a range. Porsche, for example, is always conservative on 0-60. You also realize quickly, that there is always cars that are faster and bolt on (or chip) performance has a very low entry point.

    Fast to me now is control at speed. I want to feel torque, not HP. I want responsiveness, handling, engagement. Put all that into a package, even on a 150hp car and it can feel plenty fast and be fun doing so.

    If I had to measure to compare, I guess 0-60 and 1/4 times and trap speed is the easiest way to research and compare. Top speed is useless.

  • avatar

    25 MPH to 75 MPH freeway-merge test. It’s a good simulation of one of the times you most frequently use full power. A 1.8 liter Miata does it in about ten seconds, a C5 Corvette in five, a plywood’n’cardboard RC51 in two and a half.

    It’s non-abusive, with no launches and one shift, so you can measure it on a test-drive.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with this Chap(arral). I have three cars: A 2013 Fit manual, a 1997 RAV4 2-door automatic, and a 1967 Cadillac Eldorado (engine has 67k miles, TH425 transmission freshly rebuilt).

      * The RAV4 will leap off the line, but it all downhill from 10 MPH on. It really doesn’t want to go past 50.

      * The Fit is geared to get off the line reasonably well, given its dinky engine, and once the revs climb way up, it will get out of its own way. But between 30 and 70 is agony, particularly when trying to merge into zippy, ungracious traffic.

      * The 4800-pound, 50-year-old Eldorado is, not surprisingly, in no big rush to get going when a light turns green. The Turbo-Hydramatic isn’t really set up for solid, from-a-standstill pull. Hey, it’s a real Cadillac: smooth! But turn its ancient 429 cubic lnches loose on an on ramp and it whisks from 30 to 80 MPH posthaste with no complaints. Also, others — even Yukon/Denali/Escalade drivers — tend to get out of its way.

      Now if we’re talking about Fast vs. Gas Mileage … .

  • avatar

    Having spent 9 years driving a Volvo 240 in NY tri-state I can tell you that it is the fastest car around. It easily passes every cabbie because they don’t dare to squirt in front of you in city traffic and the Volvo’s steering has a quicker ratio than a Camry. It easily passes every Porsche and BMW on I95 as they lumber in the left lane checking their texts. It easily passes every SUV on rough roads as their heads are bobbing 10 feet above the pavement, death gripping the wheel with their hands perfectly stuck at 9 and 3. When it’s time to climb a sudden hill after a blind curve, the Volvo is ahead with engine spinning as the modern marvels are still figuring out how many gears to shift down from 8th or 9th. Then you hook up a trailer and pass every truck on the highway as you get to use a parkway to avoid traffic.

    • 0 avatar

      Yelp, if everyone else is in your way then clearly you are in the faster car :)

      My 02 Jeep GC straight six is probably one of the slowest vehicles produced in the 21st century yet I barely touch the accelerator and half the time I’m having to wait…..

      • 0 avatar

        Right. To consider methods of measure for an attribute that is wholly ignored by the “user,” exception being reckless youth, fleeing felons and odd-ball enthusiasts like myself seems a bit silly.

        I think people like to talk stats because they can be used to set oneself apart or above the doof across the street who bought the lesser powered car or [insert additional status symbol]. Certainly not in all cases, but more-so in cases where the feature is not used or really needed.

        So the measure to me is the driver. How to measure the cars speed (or speed potential) only comes into play when the driver has reached the limit of his equipment. A scary thought for the average user on public roads.

    • 0 avatar

      That was about my experience with 240s, I was fast because everyone was slow, the AWD Lancers scared of snow, the riced out Nissans too lazy to shift up, Buicks too old to hold 40.

      Then I got raced by a maniac in a dump truck, and lost, likewise my turbo 740 lost out to an 80’s Chevy B-body (I was scared I’d overheat the turbo engine).

      • 0 avatar

        If it makes you feel better, I ran against a new edge (v6) mustang in my Volvo 960 (brown sugar) and was the victor. Not that it’s terribly hard to outrun one of those sleds, but all the better to do it in a brown station wagon. Dude was not pleased.

      • 0 avatar

        “Then I got raced by a maniac in a dump truck, and lost”

        Hey, that was my experience with my first car (auto 244), only it was a square-body Chevy wrecker. (The driver in question is a lunatic; I’ve seen him do things in a Buick LeSabre that I wouldn’t trust most people to pull off in a Camaro.)

    • 0 avatar

      ROFL – so much this. Even when driving my 54hp Peugeot 504D I was usually passing pretty much everyone. The “fastest” car I have ever owned is my Triumph Spitfire, because it feels like you are strapped to the head of a missile even if you aren’t exceeding the speed limit.

      I have owned one genuinely by the numbers rapid car – a BMW M235i. And it was largely BORING. Because it was completely effortless to get to license shredding speed, and every other car around you just becomes an impediment. And it was so stupidly capable it felt slow. The GTI that replaced it is more fun, because you have to work at it a bit. That M235i was fun on the Autobahn though – 35-155 flat out leaving a rest stop was highly entertaining.

      Unless you are actually a race car driver, speed really doesn’t matter much. I much prefer a car that feels fast to one that is fast.

  • avatar

    Power-to-weight ratio

  • avatar

    o-60 has always been my metric. Top speed is nice, but useless. In the 80’s, my GLH Turbo did 7.5, all the magazines were beside themselves with that time.

    Today, you’ll be laughed at. You need six seconds for “quick”, five for really quick, and four for hypercar…and there are a lot of four second cars now…

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      I reckon the 50-70 mph test is the test that reflects the kind of power usage you require in real life.

      • 0 avatar

        Agree, that or some other broader speed range. Power to weight AND torque to weight as well. I think all these should be standardized/available for viewing everywhere tests are done. However now I have difficulty finding any of these.

      • 0 avatar

        Agree, if I’m behind a slower car on a 2 lane highway, it’s this speed that matters. Actually I’ll push it to 80 or 90 to make the pass as fast as possible. Which I recently found out is not an acceptable excuse.

    • 0 avatar

      The Saab 9000 Aero as seen from a LamborghiniDiablo[/b][/quote]50-70 figures in top gear:

      Saab 9000 2.3T 5.6s
      Lambo Diablo SE 6.3s
      Porsche 928 GT 6.5s
      Lotus Esprit S4 6.8s
      Aston Martin DB7 7.1s
      BMW M3 7.1s Source : Autocar

      • 0 avatar

        The problem with 50-70 is it’s really often a measure of gearing. C&D just starts in the highest gear and goes from 50-70. So an auto kicks down a couple gears and a manual greatly varies by how far into overdrive the top gear is. If the test was to shift into the lowest gear at which you can obtain 70, then that would be meaningful.

      • 0 avatar

        I freaking loved my 9000 Aero. Nothing was more fun than accelerating down the exit ramp onto the highway and feeling like I was flying. I wished there was a similar car nowadays.

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      I had a kid in a Ford Flex ‘rev’ on me two days ago. It took more juice than I was initially prepared to give to beat him to 50 mph. Those things are QUICK!

  • avatar

    1/4 mile from a dead stop is still best test to indicate how “fast” a vehicle is.

    It reveals transmission characteristics from both a dead stop and on the roll, which is important, in determining how motor and transmission work together.

    0-60 from a dead stop is still the best test to determine how “quick” a vehicle is, for much the same reason.

    If it’s a Ford or Honda driven by Jack Baruth, or a Ford or Acura driven by Mark Baruth, add 4.9 mph to the 1/4 mile time, and subtract 1.1 seconds from the 0-60 time, to arrive at their estimated published speeds/times.

  • avatar

    Measure what limits performance. On the road, that’s speed limit enforcement.

    So what matters? Front-view radar cross section, front-view laser reflectivity. Minimize both to go faster!

    • 0 avatar

      Back when Car and Driver was actually worth reading, they tested an assortment of cars to see what was best suited to US highway conditions. IIRC, the C3 Corvette’s plastic nose and reclined radiator sent X-band radar into space and couldn’t be read until you’d have had plenty of time to see the revenuer, hit the brakes and roll on unmolested. It didn’t explain why Corvettes were always the slowest cars on the road though. I guess cops liked pulling them over just out of envy during the double nickel era. I remember my parents getting ticketed for running 65 mph with every other car on the interstates in their red West German cars.

  • avatar

    I need to be able to comfortable merge..So 25 mph to 75 would be my criteria.. I always like the ability to get out of someones way..If I’m in the left lane and somebody is behind me, i want to have a choice . Do I cut to the right, or accelerate till I have a space ?..I need both options .

    I owned a 14 Impala Epsilon 2.5 litre. The constant shifting to maintain highway speeds, drove me nuts. I once had occasion to drive the Impala 250 miles on the highway. Three adults onboard, and a full trunk. The big Impala went from sluggish to down right slow…

    I dumped it a week later.

    • 0 avatar

      One of hapless, incompetent General Motors exceedingly few redeeming qualities was once transmission design/implementation, but they’re even managing to screw that up now in many of their vehicles.

      When the next deep dive comes in pickup truck and SUV sales, GM will be seen swimming with no clothing.

    • 0 avatar

      With a ecu tune on our Terrain and Mom’s LaCrosse, both with 2.4l running regular unleaded, it will snap right off the line compared to the V6. Bit mid range the 2.4 has no fight with a 3.6l. The 2.2 liters makes quite a difference.

      Of course the almost 10 mpg for the four over the six can be reward enough.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I spend a reasonable amount of time on two lane roads that have a 65 mph speed limit. Invariably you get someone who thinks that 50 is the right speed for various reasons that run the gamut of: just being an ass, being a kenworth with a massive load of hay, Ram 3500 with a gooseneck loaded with drilling pipe so on and so forth.

    So, fast for me is how easily can I pass the bottle neck safely. My 4 mil accord coupe was kind of fun for these jaunts as it was a MT and could get going reasonably from 45 to 90. A lot of times you have to pass multiple cars so hitting 90 or 100 is feasible. My Wrangler, not so fast. Suburban, meh but sure makes a lot of Merican’ made grunt doing it! The Lacrosse AWD, believe it or not if you use the manual shift button and drop to 2nd or 3rd depending on starting speed will get up and haul the mail if asked.

    Like many, I really don’t have times to report I work more on a self prescribed can this thing complete the pass task safely. For me that the measure of ‘fast’. I don’t like a slow car, as in one that can’t pass safely. I did give a pass to the Wrangler when I had it as I knew from the outset that ‘speed’ was not was they are known nor made for. My 4 mil Accord 4-door was not ok, just slow.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    I got around NCM West in 1:48 in a Class A Lemons car. Which may be slightly slower than the 720S.

    I measure speed in real-world terms. My 370hp Charger is often slower in traffic or cities than my 67hp Honda Insight, particularly in some construction zones I have to go through now. The Honda squeezes into gaps and generally is able to skate around things a lot easier than the lumbering Charger. Parking the Honda is a breeze in Chicago and the time saved quickly fitting into half-spots more than makes up for the few seconds of speed I may be able to achieve with a more powerful car.

    On a road trip, it obviously flips, but faster still is my minivan. With a 450+ mile range, you don’t need to stop and passengers stay comfortable. It has adequate power to maintain any pace you would reasonably need in any condition.

  • avatar

    I don’t care about track fast since I don’t drive on a track. On the street it’s all in the delivery and largely non quantifiable. Immediate pedal response and how much the car will give you while keeping the shifts smooth and the obnoxious noises quiet are much more important than how much is ultimately there when it’s trying too hard.

    All of the magazine numbers from a dead stop primarily demonstrate the suitability of the car for an abusive launch, rolling starts and passing times are potentially relevant but they still don’t tell you anything about angry bees under the hood or whether the first 2″ of pedal travel does anything.

  • avatar

    I remember watching a video where the Motortrend editor was showing how they set their drag times behind the scenes.

    It took him dozens of attempts in the Aston Martin he was driving before he finally managed to set the published hero time.

    At some point I realized…man, this guy is experienced at doing this, I’m just some schlub. It calls to question all this “we turned off the TC and ignored launch control for out best time”…sure, you can produce a hero time, but 9/10 you’ll end up slow without the computer aids. (Where you is assuming you aren’t some sort of drag racer and good at that sort of thing)

    For me, trap speed is the most useful indicator of how a car will feel. 0-60 is too dependent on grip and gearing, and the 1/4 mile ET is overly influenced by the launch.

    I’ve come to start ignoring stats, though. If you go by magazine stats, my old Boss and my GT350 are neck-and-neck in a race…but having driven both I’ll confidently say no way. Now, 99% of that is probably that the Boss has the outright capability, but not the confidence…but since I’m the one that has to pay for my mistakes, I value that confidence quite highly.

  • avatar

    I agree with all the comments on merging and passing. My 13 TSX 4 cyl. is fine most of the time but there is the occasion on the highway when I want to get out from behind the slow truck and I have to think about if I have enough punch to insert myself into the next lane of traffic.

    My Wife’s 16 A6 2.0T generally has this covered but it does seem to hesitate if doing this from a stop to get in the other lane when one has backed up. Not had a chance to play more with sport mode to see if it is more responsive or if this is just a lag it has.

    Basically, I don’t want to feel like I am going to get run over. I definitely have to think about this in my MG Midget.

  • avatar

    On a newish car, it has to be faster in all published metrics than the Camry V6 and upcoming 2.0T Accord.

  • avatar

    For me the ability to pass quickly and safely on a two lane road is what counts so 40 to 100 is my benchmark….something that my 335d does extremely well.

    • 0 avatar

      I tested a twenty thousand mile 335d once. they were only asking twenty grand (one engineer owner, but had too many cars and was out the country six months at a time). there is this half mile stretch slight uphill, and as soon as I completed the turn, i hammered it. my wife and i looked at each other five seconds later with this crazed smile. that thing HAULED!

      unfortunately, the timing was wrong, even if i had decided to take the risk of the injectors, massive carbon deposits etc. i’ve noted your comments in the past… i can’t do 100mph long runs, but i do do 80mph minimum one hour runs, and i know that’s what that motor needs. so i didn’t buy it.

      six months later i got a clean 328xi. i love this car, but the motor drives differently. it’s FAST 40 to 100, but you do have to plan your passing a little better. it takes about two seconds to wind up the rpm’s and listen to the song, rather than catch the immediate shove in the 335d.

      despite being a different kind of drive, i actually love the engine, and though i could totally afford it, did not care for the 335i. what i don’t like is the x-drive part. you just don’t get that shoving oneself through the corners rwd feel in this one. it’s there, but muddled. I knew this, but simply couldn’t dare the rwd for a single car household in upstate NY.

      Anyhow… long way to tell you, enjoy your 335d.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks it really is the best car Ive ever owned for road trips. I bought it 5 years ago as a CPO car with only 32000 miles for 28K which was a good price at the time. It now has 97000 miles and Ive had no injector or CBU issues. There are a couple of secrets for trouble free 335d operation though. 1. If Im going less than 100 miles I use the Golf Sportwagen. 2. I add 1/4 oz of Optilube with every fill up. It increases lubricity, increases cetane, and keeps injectors clean. 3. It is simple to electronically disable the EGR valve by pulling out the #1 pin from the connector for the EGR motor. After my new house in rural CO is done and I move from CA I will do a full delete and tune which will increase the torque to 550 and the HP to 350 or so. The thing will be a beast after that….;/

  • avatar

    When it comes to speed that matters, its 2 lane passing speed. So, 50-70, or because sometimes it works out this way – 50-90.

    On the slower end of the scale what really matters is power delivery. My current engine is Audi’s 3.0 V6T, which despite the T is supercharged. It has me so spoiled. Even tiny turbos that have ‘essentially’ no lag have lag when compared to a turbine that is constantly spinning.

    Of course 17mpg is probably my punishment for this joy.

  • avatar

    Someone already said it, but Camry V6 is the yardstick.

    You’re not fast if you can’t beat a Camry.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    My 2001 M Roadster 5-speed is plenty fast. With the top down, visibility is excellent, so it’s great for darting around highway traffic. Even in fifth gear it will go from 70 to 90 in what feels like the blink of an eye.

  • avatar

    Fast is relative.

    My 1967 Mustang feels faster than its 200 hp 289 V8 because of deep gears, non-existent sound insulation, and sitting what feels like a 1/2 in off the pavement.

    My 150 cc scooter felt fast because of being out in the wind and a lively twist and go throttle.

    My Highlander feels slower than it is because of a transmission that puts fuel economy above all else.

  • avatar

    Anything that kisses 6 seconds flat on 0-60 is fast for me.

    Are there any cars that ‘cheat’ on this one metric, and are massively slower in upper portions of the speedometer?

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    “Today, I drove 10 mostly brilliant and remarkably capable vehicles against the clock around the NCM West course, ranging from a Honda Civic Type R to a Lamborghini Huracan Performante and a McLaren 720S”

    Oh yeah, Mr. Hotshoe? Well, this week *I* have been in the enviable position of interviewing multiple 40K mile Everyman Sedans for the potential position of replacing our soon-to-be fired Altima without overturning the travel and savings budget. It’s OK to be jealous, we’re all human.

    Within the realm of sub-200hp 4-pot sedans, I’ve taken notice of how a car leaves the line and the downshift responsiveness for passes. So, the C&D 0-30 and 30-50 and 50-70 times seem more relevant for how I’m likely to use a car day to day.

  • avatar

    I have always looked at the trap speed (MPH) of the 1/4 mile, that gives a true indication of the type of power a car has.

  • avatar

    65-90MPH. This is what it takes when you come upon a ‘road boulder’–the (usually) old man in a hat who is determined to enforce the 65MPH speed limit in the #1 lane of an 8-lane freeway here in the SF Bay Area. You come up behind–respectfully, no tailgating–and give them a chance to move over but when they (usually) don’t move to the right you have to punch it to pass them on the right (legal, AFAIK, in California). If you just move to the right and casually try to get around him–it’s always a ‘him’–they will match speed to keep you from passing, so you have to wait for an opening and punch it to get around him before he realizes what you’re doing.

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      “…who is determined to enforce the 65MPH speed limit in the #1 lane of an 8-lane freeway here in the SF Bay Area.”

      Much to my dismay, I often find the far right lane offers a speedier path than the left lane. Idiots in the Bay Area seem to not want to drive in the rightmost lane, because, you know, someone might merge onto the highway in that lane 6 miles up the road.

  • avatar

    Neither top speed or 0-60 have any relevance to most drivers. Only a few will track or drag their cars.

    So, for most, they key metric is ‘rate of acceleration between 35-75mph’. This is what is needed for merging and passing. For the most common types of vehicles (CUVs, SUVs, pick up trucks, vans), this means how it accelerates between I’m guessing…..1400 – 3400 RPM?

    The faster and smoother a car can do this, the better. That’s what ‘fast’ means to most drivers. How it ‘feels’ when doing those maneuvers.

  • avatar

    I’m not a tack driver and so, by and and large, no longer give much of a hoot about a car’s 0-60 or quarter mile times, except perhaps by way of idle curiosity. What I care about is whether a particular car gives a satisfactory SENSATION of quickness in normal everyday driving. The combination of ever more isolated and powerful cars, combined with roads choked with slow moving crossovers and minivans, mean that tapping the full potential of a car is largely impossible and/or outright dangerous on public roads. So, I look for a car that provides the sensation of fun and engagement in most driving situations, measured 0-60 or quarter mile times be damned.

    The above factors are also why I now find the race for ever more powerful sports/super cars and muscle cars utterly boring. For example, for real world purposes, I’d much rather have an “inferior” Ferrari F355 than a 488, a “lesser” 392 Challenger than a Hellcat, or an “overmatched” S2000 than a 981 Boxster/Cayman.

  • avatar

    Depends on the venue I suppose. There is quick; 0-60, 1/8th, 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, and 1 mile runs and there is fast in the first sense which generally constitute V- max runs of some sort and then you have fast around a track of some sort in the second.

    But if you wanted something less pedantic I would say any of the two proper pony cars are fast in base V8 trim. They are fairly well rounded in the quick and fast department’s and offer decent handling.

  • avatar

    Competitiveness at national level autocross.

  • avatar

    I’d like to see Cannonball times published…..

  • avatar

    0-60 is only thing I can relate to because I know how “fast” my previous cars were compared to my current car. The specs are easy to find online.

    I’ve never been on drag strip and thus can’t relate to those numbers, but from what I understand its more about reaction time and how well the car hooks up.

    What JB is taking about with R&T and the Lighting Lap type deal is MUCH better since that includes handling and braking, but since I’ve never had my car on that particular track I can’t compare. Now on my home track I can easily bench race based on times. Sadly its almost pointless as tires and skills makes such a HUGE difference. For example I have passed Ferrari and been shamed by Ford Focus drivers while in my 350Z.

    • 0 avatar

      I relate, I’ve told the story too many times, but this one time in an integra I had just passed a new Diablo on a twisty CA hwy when he didn’t want me to …. and a lowly Ferrari 308 blew past me so fast I thought I broke down.

  • avatar

    1/4 mile and (40-70?) passing both tell me a lot about power, but fast has to include a brake test. If I can’t loose speed quickly with control and wait until the last possible yard to slow for a corner I won’t be going fast. I’ve modified more cars brakes than engines. If I can’t get seat time and tested acceleration numbers, I’ll choose [email protected]

  • avatar

    I agree with Dan above when he wrote “I don’t care about track fast since I don’t drive on a track. On the street it’s all in the delivery and largely non quantifiable.” Most people do not track their cars. I think it is more of a challenge to build a fast and fun daily driver than a car designed and tuned for the track. My DD is a 2016 Chevy SS. It is very fast when I need it to be, which is usually merging and passing, and it can also be thrown around very nicely on a fun road. The nannies keep an average driver like me safe without being too intrusive. You know a fast street car when you drive one, no need for measurables.

  • avatar

    There’s a difference between “quick” (0-60 mph) and “fast” (say, 50-70 mph). In everyday usage, fast is the one metric that I overwhelmingly prefer, but that came with age and hundreds of thousands of miles of driving. The ’70 Z/28 was quick, but not fast, and the ’74 Vette (454 cid), ’75 Eldo (500 cid), and ’75 and ’76 Trans Ams (400 cid’s) that I owned were fast, but not quick. (It’s the torque, brother!) So, the 1970’s were the epiphany years for me: I “quickly” learned that the “fast” cars were so much more enjoyable to drive every day than the “quick” cars that may win a stoplight drag race every few months. The absolute best “fast” car I ever owned was the ’91 M-B 560SEL, though – the unending, and very “quick,” pull from speed when the accelerator was squeezed was awe-inspiring (although the ’89 Volvo 745 with the 351 Windsor motor was pretty darn fast, too, just no top end speed). So, for me, a rolling acceleration time measurement is the key…never having to worry about getting around the slower car in front of you, or suddenly trying to out-drag you while he’s next to you, is pure bliss.

  • avatar

    Fast (quick) is relative …. just ask anyone who has ridden a litre-class sport motorcycle.

    If a good 0 – 60 time is highly dependent on reaction time (and maybe clutch application) then surely the universal measurement for “fast” is the way a vehicle presses you into the seat once the gas pedal is sufficiently floored, meaning force during acceleration. Say from 30mph to 70mph. Measurements for 5mph – 60mph are useful but almost anything can produce a decent amount of initial torque in 1st gear at 5mph.

    So, for the term “fast”, aren’t we really talking about a vehicle that can sustain a decent amount of acceleration over a period of time? Average ‘g’. I’d like to see that stat in car tests.

  • avatar

    I prefer the question “how fast is the most fun”.

    I’ve driven some fast stuff, and genuinely believe that there’s a law of diminishing returns when acceleration goes beyond a certain point. There comes a point where acceleration becomes too savage and immediate to be really enjoyable. It turns to less of an experience, more of an occurrence.

    I like to put my foot down and feel the forces build. Jump in a 911 Turbo and the three second sprint to 60 comes and goes like a sneeze. At least an E60 M5 gives you a chance to hear the revs crescendo a few times during the five seconds it takes to dispatch the same increment.

    I’m pretty sure 0-60mph in 5.2 seconds in a Testarossa is no less enjoyable than 3.0 seconds in a 488GTB. I reckon five seconds or so is a good balance between exhilaration and fulfillment, while a six-second wave of turbodiesel torque is a feeling to savour.

  • avatar

    “Fast” is a relative term. When I owned a sport bike everything else felt slow. I’ve been on trails where 50 kph felt faster than a buck fifty.

  • avatar

    “I’m a sad old man who wants to watch his son graduate from high school”

    The fact that you said that means you are far from sad.

    A special someone makes one respect one’s mortality.

  • avatar
    The Soul of Wit

    To me….quick means real-world quick. Like Jack, my supra-100 MPH days are behind me….but I need the ability to zip from 30 to 75 to pass the occasional tractor or preacher’s wife on our Indiana two-laners and county roads, and get the pass done before I hit the oncoming combine or school bus. My C300 Benz has the gumption and then some to do that in spades, thankfully. “Seems” quicker in that test than either of my 5.0 Mustangs I had previously. But maybe that’s just because my Benz handles such tasks with the droll aplomb of a jaded RAF pilot during the blitz. It’s quick without seeming to hurry….we’ve revved nearly to redline a tick after planting my right foot…by comparison, my Mustangs felt like they were in a panic.

  • avatar

    0-60 or 1/4 mile TIMES are a measure of how quick a car is. The trap speed is a decent indicator of “fast” but how well a car can negotiate a track is a better indicator of how fast it is overall.

    If you want to be able to merge easily you need a quick car. It doesn’t matter if the top speed is 110mph or 210mph, just that it gets to freeway speeds in a reasonably short time.

    If you want to run on the autobahn you need a relatively fast car. You don’t want a car that goes 0-60 in 4 seconds flat but tops out at 85mph.

    JMHO anyway the different between fast and quick. Since it was asked.

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