Have We Reached The Peak For Automotive Acceleration?

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Good news, both of you readers! Today is Friday, and that means it’s time for Letters to Doug, the weekly column where you send me a letter and I forward it to all my friends and openly mock you.

Just kidding! What I do is, I take the very best letter of the week, and I change the name of the person who sent it, and then I provide my own long-winded answer before turning things over to you, the reader. If this sounds like your cup o’tea, then you can e-mail me with your own question at Letters2Doug@gmail.com, or Tweet me at @DougDeMuro.


This week’s letter comes to us from someone named Reginald, which is of course a name I just made up to disguise the fact that the letter writer’s name is actually Mark. Reginald writes:

Hey Doug,

I have enjoyed Jalopnik for many years and your antics since you joined. I have a question which should probably be directed to an engineer, but figured your response would be funnier. Road tests of the newest hypercars (Porsche 918, LaFerrari, etc.) are coming in at mid to even LOW 2’s for 0-60 acceleration. These numbers are very close or about the same as current F1 cars, the fastest rally cars, etc. Do you think we’ve have about reached the limits of acceleration for cars? Or will my future children be laughing about how the Lamborghini Aventador was SO SLOW with only a ~3 second 0-60 time?



For those of you who don’t want to suffer through Reginald’s 107 words, one of which is “children,” please allow me to sum up Reginald’s question for you. First, he talks about how much he loves Jalopnik, and my writing, and all of my hilarious antics, and my simple existence, and my intellect, and my wit. And then at some point he asks a question.


But his question is very important, and so, like all important matters, I must address it. The question is: have we reached a point where cars simply cannot accelerate any faster than they do right now?

And the answer is: YES! But I also would’ve said yes about 10 years ago, so what the hell do I know?


Let me tell you what you need to know about automotive acceleration. Acceleration is calculated using a complex equation by which you multiply force by mass by time to get a mathematical result such as “lightning fast” or, if you are a NASCAR crew chief, “real quick.” As Reginald pointed out, some of today’s fastest cars reach 60 mph in around two seconds, which is incredibly fast. One, Mississippi. Two, Mississippi. That’s two seconds. In a LaFerrari, you would be doing 60 right now. In my Range Rover, you would be stuck behind a city bus.

So the question is, what’s next? If cars can already hit 60 mph in two seconds, is there really any room for them to be any faster? And the answer is yes. They can hit 60 mph in one second.


No, I’m just kidding. One second would be ridiculous. Even a Harrier jet can’t hit 60 mph in one second, and those things use a supercharged version of the Hemi V8 that’s in the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. So if a modern airplane cannot reach these speeds, then by God an automobile such as the LaFerrari cannot reach these speeds, and certainly a hybrid automobile such as the Porsche 918 Spyder cannot reach these speeds. That would just be a travesty.

So I must say, Reginald, that I believe we have hit peak supercar acceleration. Oh, sure, the next crop of cars might be a tick faster, but the days of massive leaps in 0-to-60 time are over. We must now be content with the fact that a) our very best cars reach 60 mph in two seconds, b) our almost-very-best cars reach 60 mph in three seconds, and c) Dodge stuffs a 700-horsepower engine in a rental car.


Unfortunately, this is bad news for those of you speed freaks out there, because it means you’ll never be able to accelerate any faster in a modern car than you do right now, at this very moment, unless of course you have a Chevy Aveo, which could accelerate faster if it was being pulled by a horse.

But just remember: if you really long for more acceleration, you can always by a Top Fuel dragster. They are mathematically defined as “insanely fast.”


@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn’t work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.