Why we get slower 0-100 kph acceleration times than foreign magazines
We’ve answered this question a million times before, but it is time to permanently settle this matter, so that if we are bothered by armchair-racers in the future, we can just point to this page.
So we get slower acceleration times than the American and British magazines. That’s a given. But here are the facts:
- First of all, 0-60 mph is not the same as 0-100 kph. Accurately, 60 mph is equal to 96 kph. So for cars doing under 4 seconds, the difference is roughly 0.2 seconds longer to 100 kph. With cars doing around the 9-second mark, the difference is already around 0.5 seconds. Depends a lot on the car’s gearshift points though.
- It is a well-known industry “secret” that many carmakers supply the big magazines in the US/UK with slightly-tuned cars, so that when tested, they’ll get good timings in the media. The smaller magazines/websites there don’t even bother testing any numbers, just like the local magazines here that simply use manufacturer figures.
- We have summer in the UAE for 8 months of the year. The Americans and the Europeans test their cars in the cooler weather there. They even claim to “adjust” the times to account for temperature changes, though I have no idea how that would work accurately, considering each car is different. Motor Trend says the difference in their corrected figure can be as much as half a second for fast cars. All we can do is mention the weather we tested it in, and let you keep in mind that the car will be quicker in the winter than in the summer.
- Almost all the U.S. magazines use the drag-style “1-foot-rollout” method of timing. Which means the car has already moved one foot before timing starts, and it’s used in measuring longer quarter-mile times, but they use it for 0-60 mph runs as well. That cuts times by 0.2 seconds on average on the 0-60 mph run. The only one to not use this method is Edmunds.com, and we also don’t use it, as it makes no sense to use it.
- We’ve been told by at least two different sources inside European car companies who tested the petrol here and found out that the fuel quality in Dubai is worse than in countries like Germany, even if you buy “Super” 98 or whatever. This will vary from country to country, as well as city to city of course. Certain sensitive cars, like the older Lexus IS 350 and Hyundai Sonata Turbo models, aren’t even sold here because of this, while others, like the Lexus LX 570 and the Volkswagen Golf R, are detuned. We already get poorer fuel economy than any U.S. “mpg” rating with all cars, no matter how conservatively we drive.
- We don’t get perfect cars all the time. Some come with worn tyres. Some come filled with “Special 95” petrol when it should be using “Super 98” juice. Some come to us after 20,000 kilometres of abuse from the “prominent” journalists who got the car before us. Sometimes we even get cars with 500 km on the clock, which means they aren’t broken in yet and not at peak performance.
- Some cars are tuned for our conditions better than others. With the 2010 Range Rover Supercharged, we got 6.1 seconds, which is quicker than the manufacturer time. That likely means Land Rover tunes their cars properly to handle the fuel and weather here. With the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS, we got 6.3 seconds, even with perfect shifts after several tries, while with the 2012 Nissan GT-R, we got 3.5 seconds using launch control, which is supposed to be perfect every time. But both those cars were slower than expected here. Also, turbo cars are generally affected less by weather and altitude differences than naturally-aspirated cars.
- Some of the foreign magazines use harsh methods to launch the car, and they say so. Like doing multiple 5000-rpm clutch dumps with the Honda S2000. Actual owners have destroyed their drivetrains doing that with their personal cars. We’ll never do that to our own Honda S2000, and we don’t abuse our test cars, instead choosing to do launches at 2000 rpm on average. The big American rags can get away with it, but for us, it becomes a public-relations disaster if we blow the transmission. If you want to try it, go blow up your own car.
That’s about it really. In reality, we do match the official timings sometimes, but it is very rare. The ones that handled our conditions well were the Volkswagen Golf GTI and other turbocharged VWs, the Range Rover Supercharged as well as Jaguar models that use the same engine, the BMW 335i and a few other smaller turbocharged 6-cylinder models, the Mini Cooper S and its derivatives, the latest Toyota Camry, and probably a few others that we can’t recall at the moment. But with some cars, it is much harder to be consistent than others. For example, the VW GTI could vary by up to half a second, depending on how much wheelspin we poke in, but the Range Rover could run consistent times all day long.
And a word about our measuring device. We use an app on the iPod Touch called Dynolicious. We don’t have any music on our iPod, because we bought it only for this one app, after we read lots of positive reviews about how reasonably accurate it was, compared to the pricier professional devices (update: we now use an iPhone 6). Anyone can download it, but to give accurate readings, it needs to be calibrated and mounted correctly, which obviously a lot of consumers won’t bother doing. We did compare the times we got with another local publication that occasionally uses an expensive V-BOX device, and the timings are fairly similar. We turn the a/c off, carry no passengers, and usually launch at 2500 rpm if the rev-limiter allows, or sometimes a bit higher.
We may switch to a better device later, but for now, this is infinitely better than using a stopwatch in one hand, staring at stupid Youtube videos of speedos, or blindly publishing manufacturer times.