The accepted measure of a car’s performance is not its top speed. In the past it may have been possible to go absolutely flat out when the roads were almost empty and engines produced very little power, but nowadays it’s hardly ever going to happen.
Instead, we talk about acceleration, mostly from rest to 62mph. This isn’t particularly relevant either (how often have you tried or even wanted to get up to that speed as quickly as possible?) but it does give some indication of whether or not one car performs better than another without driving either of them.
If you think 62mph is a strange number to choose, I agree with you. It has become accepted because throughout Europe the test is a nice round 0-100km/h, which in Imperial units is a less round 0-62mph.
At the turn of the century, ten seconds wasn’t a bad time for this test. Today, it’s very ordinary. A great many cars can manage it, or at least get close to it.
The cut-off point for this article was originally going to be 15 seconds, and we could have got away with that as recently as six months ago. However, a recent change in the EU exhaust emissions regulations has prompted several manufacturers to fit engines which, as well as meeting those regulations, are more powerful than the ones they have replaced.
To come up with enough cars to make this worthwhile, we have therefore had to choose ones which take longer than 14.5 seconds to complete the test. We’ve found eleven, though it’s possible that others whose performance figures have not yet been confirmed may arrive on the market in 2019.
One final point before we get started: we are definitely not having a ‘dig’ at cars which take a long time to get from 0-62mph. There are many people who consider performance to be far less important than things like practicality and economy. These cars are intended for those people, and that’s just fine.