When we test cars here at MotorTrend, we don’t just measure acceleration times and braking distances. We also record lateral grip on a skidpad and how long it takes them to complete our proprietary figure-eight course. Why a figure eight? Sometimes called a “race rack in a bottle,” it’s the best way to objectively measure how different cars accelerate, brake, and corner on their limits in a tidy, repeatable way.
Typically, high-powered, high-performance cars with sticky rubber, such as the Porsche 911 GT2 RS and Lamborghini Huracán Performante, post the best figure-eight times, while heavy-duty trucks and SUVs such as the Ram 3500 and Jeep Wrangler post the worst. It’s simple physics: Less power and a high center of gravity work against such a performance metric. Hybrids, with less power and low-rolling-resistance tires, tend to cluster at the bottom of the pack.
But surprisingly, when we recently tested the Toyota Prius Limited, it was actually pretty quick through the figure eight. In fact, with a time of 26.3 seconds at an average of 0.64 g, the 121-hp Prius did better than several cars you’d expect to leave it in the dust. Here are 15 currently on-sale performance cars that were somehow slower through our figure-eight course than the Toyota Prius.
Jaguar XF S Sportbrake
With a 380-hp supercharged V-6 under the hood and all-wheel drive, the Jaguar XF wagon should have been much quicker than the underpowered, front-wheel-drive Prius. And yet, it was ever so slightly slower, needing 26.4 seconds at an average of 0.69 g to finish the figure eight. Afterward, the test driver said, “This wagon would benefit greatly from a better set of tires.” At least the XF still has its good looks.