Are cheetahs faster than cars?

Are cheetahs faster than cars?
Are cheetahs faster than cars? Illustration: PoC.
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Are cheetahs faster than cars? The answer is Yes and No. In respect of acceleration from 0-30 mph and perhaps even 0-50 mph they are faster than nearly all cars but in terms of top speed nearly all cars beat the cheetah.

The cheetah is the fastest land animal but its top speed is sometimes exaggerated. Also the most devastating strength of the cheetah from their prey’s point of view is their acceleration.

Acceleration

Most standard passenger vehicles accelerate at 0-60 mph in about 10 seconds. They might take 3-5 seconds to get to 30 mph. Electric vehicles are considerably faster in this regard. Performance petrol cars such as the Ford Focus ST do 0-30 mph in around 2 seconds.

There is no hard data on the cheetah’s 0-30 acceleration but the humble DOMESTIC CAT can do it in 3 seconds at best but also not untypically. Therefore I’d assess the cheetah as being able to go from standstill to 30 mph in well under 3 seconds. Perhaps around 2 seconds or even less which is similar to a performance petrol car and also similar to the better, more expensive electric vehicle times.

The cheetah can accelerate up to 3 metres per second and decelerate by 4 metres per second IN A SINGLE STRIDE. This requires muscle power that is four times more than that generated by Usain Bolt in his world record 100 metre sprint.

The cheetah’s hunting successes are more dependent on acceleration and manoeuvrability rather than top speed which on a day-to-day basis are nearer 50 mph rather than the mid-60s which is often referred to.

Top speed

The record top speed of the cheetah is said to be 68 mph. Typically on the open plains of their wild habitat I’d say that they reach 50-60 mph on a regular basis.

Nearly all cars can achieve a considerably higher top speed. Over 100 mph is fairly normal for the average saloon car. So in a competition on top speed the cheetah is slower than an average car.

Anatomy

Cheetah galloping
Cheetah galloping. Image now in public domain.

The cheetah’s anatomy is designed for speed. It dog-like claws cannot be sheathed so they grip better, the trunk is slender, the legs are long and the body flexible. Its head is unusually small and the ears short and rounded. The long tail is used for balance in those sharp turns.

CHEETAH SPEED:

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