A road test in any other magazine might well be a short, subjective summary of a new car produced under almost any circumstances, but the Autocar road test is different. Specific, rigorous and detailed, it’s the closest examination we can give of any new model. It appears over at least eight pages and is close to 50 man-hours in the making every week.
Most of what the road test process entails is designed to be strictly repeatable and fair. We benchmark standing-start and in-gear acceleration at a purpose-built test facility every week. We carry out both subjective and objective handling tests on both road and track, on the latter up to and beyond the limit of grip, so as to fully assess stability, drivability and limit handling appeal. And while benchmark lap times are sometimes taken, they’re never an end in themselves.
We record and publish stopping distances, too, as well as taking cabin noise measurements at various cruising speeds and benchmarking either indicated or brim-to-brim fuel economy. We independently measure leg room, head room, boot space and certain key exterior vehicle dimensions, and we also weigh every car we test.
Just as every new car is different, however, the road test has developed to be versatile enough, week by week, so as to best assess and reflect the suitability of each test subject to its intended purpose. It now includes modular sections describing in detail the limit handling of a new car, or its semi-autonomous assisted driving technologies or its off-road capability.
All of this goes to bringing you the most thorough, relevant and fair test of a new car we can produce. The scores reproduced here are the ones we gave the cars at the time so they don’t necessarily represent what those same cars might score today were they rejudged using current class standards. But you can dig deeper into their attributes by using the magazine publication dates listed here to look up an old test in your own collection or on digital platforms such as Readly and Exact Editions, or you can order a back issue by phoning 0344 848 8816.
In that vein, it only remains to wish you many happy hours lost in the many numbers of our road test archive and to thank you for reading.
Matt Saunders, road test editor