0-60 time is the gold standard in automotive performance. It's the first thing an enthusiast looks at when presented with a car's stats, and typically trumps all others. Top speed is all but completely irrelevant in most cases, while the quarter mile is only valued in drag-racing circles. Attempts have been made to substitute something more all-encompassing, like the 0-100-0 acceleration/braking test, but it hasn't replaced the old 0-60. Lap times around a given course might be more useful for comparison, but unless every manufacturer tested on the same track, that falls to pieces. At the end of the day, 0-60 is where it's at, but as Forbes points out, it's not the most reliable or useful performance indicator.

In most cases, it takes ideal conditions – including a professional driver – to hit sixty in the time specified. As a result, some manufacturers quote conservative figures so as not to disappoint customers who can't manage the quoted time. Further confusing the situation, some automakers prefer to quote acceleration time in kilometers, but while the 0-100 km/h (62mph) standard might be very close to the mark, in acceleration times every millisecond counts.

It may be the gold standard, but even gold has its imperfections.

[Source: Forbes Autos]