At some point, no matter how pretty a car is or how rich its leather smells, we all want to know what it'll do. So we perform a handful of well-known exercises—quarter-mile, braking, skidpad, and so on. Now it's time for a new test.

A road-course lap time is an obvious addition, which is why we frequently run cars on circuits around the country and always will. But tracks are too sanitary for the whole story. We want to know how a car works in the real world, on broken, imperfect roads. And we want to find out in a safe, controlled environment.

For that we went to Detroit, where we found the city's sleepy Coleman A. Young airport. On a battered runway that's deactivated as needed, we laid down a track we're calling the Motown Mile. It's our version of England's Hethel, the gnarly, ex-RAF airfield that Lotus uses to torture its cars into genius.


And what a test this is. The Mile's nine corners include a flat-out, 120-mph kink and a decreasing-radius nail-biter. Hundreds of bumps keep a car from settling down. The track is short on purpose; any competent driver should have no problem going around quickly, but speed here requires more than just power or light weight. You need a chassis that lets the driver use everything—a rare commodity.

We'll visit the Mile each month in the magazine and keep the leaderboard updated. This is gonna be fun.


-Larry Webster