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How Much Faster Can 0-to-60 Times Really Get?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro November 2016

The other day, I was writing an article about the new Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, and something stood out to me: the 0-to-60 time. Mercedes says that if you get the right version, put it in the right setting, find the right conditions, are on the right surface and balance your thumb on your nose while whistling the theme from "Cheers," the 2018 E63 AMG will go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.3 seconds.

Three. Point. Three. Seconds.

This got me thinking about a couple of things. Back in the mid-2000s, when I was 16 years old, a 3.3-second 0-to-60 time wasn't really achievable by any vehicle on the market. The coolest cars back then were the Porsche Carrera GT and the Ferrari Enzo, and even they needed something like 3.5 seconds to hit 60 mph. And that was lightning fast!

Of course, everyone always reminisces about how fast cars have gotten since they were kids -- but in this case, it's not like my youth was the late 1970s during the Malaise era, when the Chevy Corvette put out 147 horsepower and had the same 0-to-60 time as a scissor lift. This was only 10 years ago! And it's not like I'm talking about the new E63 AMG versus some run-of-the-mill car, like the Volvo I drove in high school. I'm comparing it to the Ferrari freakin' Enzo! And the E63 AMG is faster!

And here's the crazy part: It's not like the AMG E-Class was slow back then. I remember, when the supercharged E55 AMG came out in 2003, it had 469 hp. At the time, that was a revolution. Monstrous. Insane. I think it was the most powerful sedan ever sold in America. And its 4.4-second 0-to-60 time was the stuff of legend.

And now, it'll hit 60 mph in 1.1 seconds less.

Which brings me to the point of this column: How much freakin' faster can we go?

We now live in a world where, for just over $100,000, you can buy a Nissan GT-R and do 0 to 60 mph in something like 2.8 seconds. Ferrari's latest supercar, the LaFerrari, will do it in 2.6 seconds. The McLaren P1 will supposedly do it in 2.5. And a freakin' Mercedes-Benz luxury sedan, which includes a feature that heats not just the seats but also the panels where you rest your elbows, does it in 3.3 seconds. THREE POINT THREE SECONDS! If I were having this conversation with you in person, this is the part where I'd be grabbing you by the collar and speaking so excitedly that I'd be spitting in your face.

And here's the thing: This didn't happen all that gradually. Sure, 0-to-60 times have been whittled down over the years. But you'd think they would start to slow down as we approach, you know, 0 seconds. But they haven't! The top 0-to-60 times have dropped a second in the last decade, and slower cars are gaining quickness even faster than that. Here's a stunning fact: Several magazines have clocked the new Civic, with an automatic transmission and no add-ons, at 0 to 60 in under 7 seconds. For a Civic!

And so again, I ask, how much freakin' faster can we go?

A decade ago, the Ferrari Enzo was doing 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds. A decade ago, the 2-point-something range wasn't achievable by an actual road-going vehicle.

Today, the LaFerrari does it in 2.5 seconds, and a Mercedes sedan does it in 3.3 seconds. Does this mean that a decade from now, I'll be sitting here talking about how the next Ferrari supercar hits 60 in 1.5 seconds? And the 2028 Mercedes E63 AMG does it in 2.3 seconds? And the 2027 Honda Civic does it in 5.7 seconds?

Now, initially, back in the mid-2000s, I assumed all this 0-to-60 madness would come to a stop when the oil started to run out and alternative-fuel vehicles took over. This is largely because my experience with alternative-fuel vehicles, back in the mid-2000s, was that General Motors coupe that looked like an overgrown computer mouse and the earliest hydrogen-powered Hondas, which cost as much as a minor-league baseball team and could travel like 14 miles between hydrogen refuels.

And then, in time, along came Tesla. And you know what? Get the right version of the Tesla Model S, put it in the right setting, find the right conditions and drive to the right surface, and if you balance your thumb on your nose while using a Ouija board to summon the spirit of Elon Musk, you can go from 0 to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds.

In other words, alternative-fuel vehicles haven't stopped the 0-to-60 advancement -- they're contributing to it!

So I don't really know where this 0-to-60 escalation is going to end, and I'm not really sure what's going to happen next. I do predict, however, that someday deep in the future, I'll be telling teenagers that the fastest Ferrari of my youth did 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds -- and they'll giggle at me as they climb into their self-driving Civics that instantaneously reach 100 mph.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
How Much Faster Can 0-to-60 Times Really Get? - Autotrader