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.
Dacia Logan MCV
The Logan MCV is a small Romanian estate car with Renault mechanicals and an absolutely enormous load capacity. Even with the rear seats in place it can carry 573 litres of luggage or what have you, which is more than many cars in the next class up.
Several engines are available, but if you like to make stately rather than urgent progress the one for you is the one-litre SCe 75. With this under the bonnet, the Logan MCV has a 0-62mph time of 14.7 seconds, unless it’s being driven down a steep hill or with a strong tailwind.
The Qubo is the MPV version of the Fiat Fiorino van, and until recently was also sold as the Citroen Nemo and the Peugeot Bipper.
The least powerful engine in the range is a 76bhp 1.4-litre petrol which struggles to cope with the Qubo’s considerable aerodynamic drag at out-of-town speeds. The 0-62mph time is therefore a leisurely 14.7 seconds, though as with the Dacia Logan MCV you do get an impressive amount of load space.
The third car in the 14.7-second bracket is the most basic Hyundai i10. In 65bhp one-litre form it has less power than the Dacia or the Fiat mentioned previously, but it’s also a lot lighter, so the performance works out about the same.
It can’t quite reach 100mph, but it does get solidly into the 90s, and nobody really needs to go quicker than that.
The most basic of today’s Fiesta is the Style, which also has the least powerful engine, a 1.1-litre producing 69bhp.
It’s the slowest in the current range by quite some margin. The 0-62mph time is 14.9 seconds, making it only slightly quicker than 1.1-litre Fiestas of the first generation, which went out of production in 1983.
People tend to prefer upmarket Fiestas over cheaper ones (which is why the even more basic Studio has been abandoned) but there must be a few who like the Style. If there weren’t, Ford would have stopped building it.
All 108s have the same one-litre three-cylinder petrol engine (actually built by Toyota) so you’d think they would all perform in much the same way.
Not quite. The ones fitted with the 2Tronic semi-automatic gearbox are considerably slower than the manual ones, with a 0-62mph time of 15.2 seconds. If you are unable or unwilling to use a clutch, of course, the drop in performance is irrelevant.
Since the Aygo is effectively the same thing as a Peugeot 108, the two cars have similar stories. With the semi-automatic gearbox known to Peugeot as 2Tronic but named x-shift by Toyota, the Aygo can also go from 0-62mph in 15.2 seconds.
There is a slight disagreement over top speeds. Peugeot says the 108 can reach 100mph while Toyota claims only 99mph for the Aygo, but let’s not get ourselves in a tizz about that.
The same car is also marketed, with only minor changes, as the Citroen C1, and as we’ll see shortly things become a bit complicated there. But first we have a Fiat to talk about.
The Doblo MPV comes with a choice of three engines. Of these, one petrol and diesel both produce a maximum of 94bhp, but the diesel gives better performance because it’s closer to its highest output across a greater rev range.
The petrol model is therefore slower, with a 0-62mph time of 15.4 seconds in standard form. The high-roof version, with the same power but greater aerodynamic drag, is further behind at 15.9 seconds.
The Citroen C1 semi-automatic is so close to the equivalent Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo that you might expect it to have a very similar 0-62mph time.
In fact, Citroen quotes one half a second slower at 15.7 seconds, though it does claim a similar top speed of 99mph.
smart’s slowest-accelerating car is the 71bhp version of the forfour, which has a 0-62mph time of 15.9 seconds. The fortwo is available with the same engine, but being smaller and lighter it’s also quicker.
The Renault Twingo is a very close relative of the forfour, though with similar power it can beat 15 seconds, possibly because it is lighter.
Although there are some tasty engines in the Micra range, if you’re not prepared to spend over £13,000 there is no alternative but to choose the more humble 70bhp one-litre.
This would be fine for town use, but it would take quite some time to reach motorway speeds. While other Micras can accelerate from 0-62mph in around 12 seconds, these ones need 16.4 seconds to do the same thing.
The slowest-accelerating car on sale in the UK today is Hyundai’s enormous and very practical i800 MPV.
There are two versions. Both use the same 2.5-litre diesel engine, but one has a manual gearbox and the other is an automatic.
Normally, you would expect the automatic to be slower, but not in this case. i800s with this transmission are also much more powerful (34bhp, or about 25%) and can accelerate from 0-62mph in 14.4 seconds, which doesn’t qualify them for this article. The manuals take 17.6 seconds, which does.