Is there a limit to how quick a car can be?
Not so long ago, a hypercar with a 3.5 second 0-60 mph time was considered blisteringly quick. Fast forward to 2019 and we've tested a four-door Mercedes E63 AMG that can hit 60 mph faster than a Ferrari Enzo. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when 0-60 times became so outrageous but with technology like launch control, all-wheel-drive, and electrification, we believe we have only just begun to unlock the secrets of a sub-two-second 0-60 time.
But have you ever wondered exactly what goes into recording a fast 0-60 time? Is there even a limit to how quick a car can be? That second question may be difficult to answer but BMW has tried to explain the first question with a helpful tutorial video.
Along with the video, BMW has created a helpful guide to explain everything there is to know about acceleration. "You'll be an expert in the field of automobile acceleration once you've read this article. You'll know its history and its limits, how it works, how to accelerate properly, and why electric cars can go one better," says BMW.
BMW's simple video breaks down the 0-60 launch into five basic factors from least to most important: aerodynamics, weight, power output, tires, and assistance systems. Aerodynamics are very important for determining a car's top speed, but 60 mph isn't considered too fast and a car's aero won't limit it much during this level of acceleration. Likewise, weight is only part of the equation that can easily be overcome with enough power.
BMW explains that even though a modern M5 is much heavier than an E30 M3, it still has a better power-to-weight ratio courtesy of its 600 horsepower twin-turbo V8. Not only is the M5 more potent, but it is also able to put down its power with the help of grippier, modern tires. The most important factor in achieving the M5's blistering sub-three-second 0-60 time is its launch control.
Finding the correct launch RPM can be difficult, as can modulating the power to achieve a smooth launch. With launch control, the car's computers are able to set the desired launch rpm and modulate any wheel slippage to create a nearly perfect launch every time. If you've ever experienced a launch in a car like the M5, you know these technologies combine to shove you back in your seat in a swift display of controlled rage.