What is 0-62mph?

  • What is the 0-62mph test’s background?
  • How is it relevant to your car?
  • Parkers explains all

Used as a yardstick for comparing the accelerative performance of cars, the 0-62mph time has become the most commonly quoted figure for cars sold across Europe, including the UK.

History of the 0-62mph test

In the infancy of the automotive industry, cars were road tested by different titles in various markets. One aspect of the test was to assess the cars’ accelerative performances.

Typically these were undertaken from a standing start with the elapsed time recorded in 10mph increments, usually from 0-10mph to 0-50mph in countries using imperial measurements. Over time the manufacturers themselves also quoted their own test figures as part of their marketing drives.

As the decades passed and engineering levels advanced, British and American titles increased the most common test speed from 0-50mph to 0-60mph. This broadly coincided with a move across nations using metric measurements to gradually increase their tests from 0-80kmh, to 0-90kmh and then 0-100kmh.

In more recent years, manufacturers have become less inclined to produce standing start acceleration test results specifically in miles per hour, and instead they simply convert the 0-100kmh figure to the slightly obscure sounding 0-62mph.

How are the tests performed?

Although the relevance of the 0-62mph time is debatable, there is still much publicity to be had for manufacturers quoting especially low figures.

The issue is that they are the manufacturers’ own claimed figures and consequently testing standards may vary, which is why some titles independently test the figures.

In most instances the car is driven in both directions along a straight piece of road, usually at a test track – this way any variances in wind direction and surface conditions are negated – accelerating hard from standstill until it’s gone past 62mph. Those two times are then averaged to create the 0-62mph figure.

The speeds are usually recorded using a variety of equipment including GPS sensors and police-style radar guns.

Will a 0-62mph time help me choose a car?

It’s highly unlikely a 0-62mph figure will help you make your mind up whether or not to buy a car, primarily because in the real world, accelerating from a standard start to a speed legally only permitted on dual carriageways and motorways isn’t something you’re likely to do.

More relevant are accelerative times while a car is moving, such as 40-60mph or 50-70mph for overtaking – manufacturers often quote these figures in their publicity material, but again there’s no industry-wide standardised test.

Ironically, many modern high-performance cars with launch control systems – designed to minimise wheelspin under hard acceleration – have their outright performance off the line hampered while the on-board electronics take a fraction of a second to measure a variety of parameters before permitting the car to propel forwards.

With the system switched off, a capable driver could potentially set a quicker time than the officially quote figure.

Looking for more jargon-busting motoring meanings? Head over to our Parkers Car Glossary page and take a look at our other definitions