Zero to 60 is the stat most manufacturers brag about, but 60 to 0 is arguably more important. Braking distance matters, as the difference between the stopping ability of a Toyota Tundra (153 ft.) and a Dodge Charger (119 ft.) is the length of an entire school bus. That’s the difference between a safe stop and a serious impact. Multiple factors contribute to a shorter stopping distance, from vehicle weight and tire compound, to brake rotor diameter and pad material, so distances can vary widely even in the same class. We’ll call a “good” score anything better than the average stopping distance of 120 – 140 feet. If you care about stopping ability, here’s your dime; the seven best brakes you can find.
Serious braking ability doesn’t have to break the bank. Top Gear summed up their review by calling the Fiesta ST “pure joy to drive.” That’s high praise, and part of the reason is the brake system. The rotors aren’t huge, but at under 2,800 lbs, they don’t need to be large to stop this small car. It stops in just 118 feet. Despite the size, it also scores well in crash tests, earning a full five stars from Europe’s NCAP crash test.
BMW’s most affordable car in the U.S. also delivers stellar braking performance. The 2 Series is smaller than the popular 3 Series, but what it gives up in interior space, it gains in nimbleness and efficiency. This Bimmer looks great, earns up to 36 MPG highway, and scored a solid “Good” across the board from the IIHS. It also stops quickly, at only 115 feet.
The new SS hauls to 60 in just four seconds flat, but it stops even quicker. With a 60 to 0 of 112 feet, the Camaro stops in the same distance previously only achieved by super cars. The Camaro scores well by using large diameter rotors, wide and grippy tires, and an advanced electronic brake control system. Not impressed with the SS? The ZL1 1LE ads even more incredible brakes to an already potent package.
The RS 5 is a limited production performance version of the base model S5 coupe. The S5 is itself a version of the hugely popular A5, available as sedan, coupe, or convertible. That’s a lot of body styles, engines, and options, but essentially the same solid car underneath. The A5/S5 earns a full five stars on the Euro NCAP crash test, and one reason might be its braking ability. The RS 5 can stop from 60 in just 101 feet, and while the base models will take a bit longer, all the parts sharing should inspire confidence.
The Jaguar XJ (and larger Jaguar XJL) is a gorgeous piece of design, but it’s as functional as it is beautiful. The iconic British full-size car model dates back to the ’60s, but Jag keeps the design and tech fresh. The R model adds a supercharged V8 making well over 500 horsepower, and with extensive use of aluminum, the XJ is over 200 lbs lighter than a comparable BMW 5 Series. That lighter weight, plus always poised suspension and electronic brake assist, allow the big cat to stop 60-0 in 99 feet.
The BMW 3 Series has been the sport sedan leader for decades. With power, balance, and driving dynamics, it is truly the ultimate driving machine. On track or on the street, stomp on the brake pedal and the nearly 15″ diameter carbon ceramic brakes yank you down to zero over the next 99 feet. The 3 Series also has a five-star rating from Euro NCAP, “Good” from the IIHS, and five stars from NHTSA. Looks like it’s also the ultimate safety machine.
This makes three sedans under 100 feet. A reminder that you don’t have to go hardcore sports car to get extreme braking. The CTS is a larger competitor to the above 3 Series, so consider the Caddy if you want more interior room with your supercar-like brakes. The base CTS is capable in all tests, but the Vsport package kicks it up with visual flash, plus improved suspension and braking abilities. It’s beautiful, comfortable, and stops in 98 feet. You should get one.
(all figures recorded by MotorTrend and Consumer Reports)