TOVA Standing Start Acceleration Test

The standing start acceleration benchmark; 0-60mph, 0-100kph and other similar tests like quarter mile, are still widely used by car enthusiasts as an indicator of the straight line acceleration performance of a car. While they are not perfect and can even be inaccurate at times, they still provide a very useful benchmark which can be used for comparisons between cars, as well as to get an idea of the acceleration capability of a car before or if an actual test drive is not possible for any reasons.

Standing start acceleration tests have been featured in many TOVA reviews. I used to use a GTech Pro, but a few years ago have changed to a Race-Tech AP22. Both uses an accelerometer to measure the acceleration of the car. The GTech Pro was more difficult to use and needs to be manually levelled in order to deliver accurate results while the AP22 automatically compensates for levelling.

As there are no drag-strips in Malaysia, I have to do my testing on public roads. In order to ensure safety, I had chosen roads which are as secluded and lightly used as possible. My original 'test strip' was a road in the CyberJaya city where there were no buildings nearby and thus quite isolated. However, I abandoned that road when some buildings sprung up around it. After stopping for a few years, I have recently found another road near the Bangi area of Selangor which is just long enough for 0-60mph and 0-100kph runs to be completed safely with plenty of road to slow down or even stop completely. On normal days, this road is extremely lightly used as it is more or less a dead-end, ending in a U-turn into another lightly used road. On weekdays when I do most of my tests, the road is practically deserted as the area around it is an industrial area and thus is completely dead on most weekends. With the discovery of this road, I can feature acceleration tests in my reviews again.

The rationale behind TOVA acceleration tests

As noted above, both my previous GTech Pro and my current RaceTech AP22 are acceleromater-based devices. I think the AP22 is quite accurate but it is not the best available. I have often been asked why I do not get a more modern, GPS based device like the RaceLogic Driftbox GPS. Well, firstly such devices are very expensive. But more importantly, I do not see a need for such a high-end device as I never intend my acceleration test to be used as reference, simply as useful indications of the performance of the car I am testing. I.e. my results are not meant to be 100% accurate as it is virtually impossible to acheive this with the constraints I have. In any case, my opinion is that if I want to obtain definitive results, the only place to do it is on a drag-strip or equivalent environment fitted with the proper timing equipment. But there is no readily available drag-strips in my part of the world. Outside of a proper drag-strip environment, I really feel that even with the most expensive, supposedly most accurate 'professional' timing equipment, I will never be able to get results which can be considered 'reference'.

So the main intention has always been to provide a source of data which TOVA readers and supporters can use to get an indication of a car's straight line performance. By attempting to be as consistent as I can in all my test, it also means the results can be used for comparison between cars TOVA has tested and they should give a rough estimation of how each car fares against others comparatively.

What about benchmarks against other publications and/or benchmarks ? Again, with the resources and constraints I have to work with, this is never going to be possible for TOVA so I don't even want to pretend. However, I do often compare my test results with what other publications, and more importantly, what actual owners of the cars are getting. Rather interestingly, I have found that amongst the many car magazines available, both in print and on the net, they too almost always gets different, sometimes widely different results. So, who is correct ? The real answer is, IMHO, that it all depends on the tester, the driver who did the test, as well as the test track they use and also the all important weather conditions prevailing during the time of the test. For me really, I actually hold the reported results from actual owners of the cars as more indicative of the true performance of the car. Of course I hope my TOVA results are useful to them as well. It would be interesting, and very welcomed, for owners of the cars for which I have published test results, to start an honest and courteous discussion. To do so, they can either register and start a thread in our TOV forum, or nowadays, they can also use the 'comments' feature of our TOVA Honda-Fan blog as everytime I publish a new article on TOVA itself, I will also put up a notice on the Honda-Fan blog.

Wong KN
September 2012
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