The 0-60 mph time has been a measure of performance for a long time and cars have continued to reduce their times over decades.
BMW decided to explain what goes into shaving seconds off of a 0-60 mph time and it involves a few key areas. The basics show that all of the power a car has needs to work against all of the weight the car carries. That's a very bare look at the topic, but it's a good starting point from Sir Isaac Newton.
However, we the arrive at aerodynamics. Aero drag rises with velocity, which means drag increases the faster a car goes. Drag is an important factor when it comes to incredibly high speeds, but plays more of a minor role in 0-60 mph times. Nevertheless, a sleek car is going to arrive at 60 mph quicker than a brick on wheels.
Another important aspect is weight. This is a pretty simple idea that we see often: add power and subtract weight. It's a reason why race cars and some production cars will strip out an interior with non-essentials in the name of weight savings. The less mass there is to move, the quicker it scoots to 60 mph. Weight isn't the defining factor, though. If it was, a decades-old M3 would be quicker to 60 mph than a new M3.
The power to weight ratio arrives on the scene to play one of the most important factors on 0-60 mph times. Now, it's not about low weight, but also a lot of power. The lower the ratio, the better the 0-60 mph sprint a car will clock. It's why we constantly see efforts to make more power and take out weight in even luxurious sports cars.
Now, it won't matter how much power a car has if it can't actually transfer the power to the ground. That takes us to tires. Grippy tires are essential to minimize wheel spin. If a car boasts 600 horsepower but all it wants to do is spin the wheels when it's time to accelerate from a standstill, that doesn't do the car any good. Ensuring the tires have a sticky ground to grab onto is also key.
Finally, driver assistance technologies round out the latest improvement to 0-60 mph times. Launch control is really more of a modern phenomenon that's no longer reserved for the most elite supercars. With it, a computer dials in the perfect spot in the powerband to ensure minimal tire spin. Before that, drivers needed to find the sweet spot themselves, which could either lead to a really slow start in an effort to keep tire spin low, or just too much tire spin altogether.
Now that you've got the basics, click play above to grab a closer look.