Acceleration in GTA San Andreas Handling

A lot has changed since GTA 3 and GTA Vice City. We have much more control over how a vehicle accelerates in the GTA San Andreas handling.cfg.

Settings Which Affect Acceleration

There are several relevant values in the.

Effect on Acceleration Effect on Top Speed
Mass Higher value slows acceleration. No change (different to earlier editions).
Drag Higher value slows acceleration. Higher value reduces top speed.
Acceleration Higher value increases acceleration. Higher value increases top speed up to the TopSpeed limit.
Inertia Higher value slows acceleration. No change.
TopSpeed No change. Limits the top speed. Details are below.

Actions Which Affect Acceleration

Action Effect on Acceleration
Driving up a slope. Decreases.
Driving down a slope. Increases.
Leaning forward slightly on a motorbike or quadbike. Increases.
Retracting landing gear of planes. Increases.
Nitro Boost Increases.

Recipe for Realistic Acceleration

Real sports cars take 5 to 10 seconds to reach 100km/h, about 30 seconds to reach 200km/h and 1 or 2 minutes to reach maximum speed.

This is much slower than original GTA San Andreas setups but after a while it will feel a bit like Gran Turismo. My GTA San Andreas Handling Overhaul has some realistic setups for the original cars.


The real world mass of the vehicle in kilogrammes. Normally between 1000 and 2000.


This should be much lower than original setups. As a rough guide:

Value Type of Vehicle
0.8 Streamlined supercar.
1.0 Normal saloon (sedan).
1.3 Open top cars.


Should be the maximum possible speed which can be achieved in the highest gear in kilometers per hour. This will normally be higher than the speed the vehicle can reach on a flat road without using nitro boost.

The TopSpeed setting has 2 modes. The mode is selected by USE_MAXSP_LIMIT, which is the 25th bit of the HandlingFlags setting.

USE_MAXSP_LIMIT Acceleration Mode Notes
0 Normal Maximum speed is about 20% higher than TopSpeed value.
1 Advanced Maximum speed is the same as TopSpeed value.

A vehicle might not be powerful enough to reach the TopSpeed limit. Changing TopSpeed does not change Acceleration or Drag.


Sets the normal rate of acceleration. As a rough guide:

Value Type of Vehicle
15 Normal car
25 Sports car
30 Very powerful supercar


This is the key to realistic acceleration. A high value smooths out the acceleration curve. A value between 80 and 120 is good for most vehicles.


The USE_MAXSPD_LIMIT entry for the HandlingFlags setting should be enabled by being ticked in my CFG Studio Handling Editor. This makes TopSpeed a precise limit.

Special Vehicles

Flying vehicles (planes) and floating vehicles (boats) have special data in sections at the end of the handling.cfg file. They also use a completely different method for their acceleration performance which I don’t understand.

The effect of special data on acceleration is not covered in this tutorial. All settings are briefly described in my GTA San Andreas Handling Definition.

Taxi Experiments

All my experiments are based on completely original Taxi handling, driving the car in a straight line on a flat road (the Julius Thru Way around Las Venturas). The Taxi is the modern one, not the old Cabbie thing.

Original Settings

These are the original values. Using them puts the Taxi back to normal.

TAXI	1450.0	4056.4	2.2	0.0	0.3	-0.25	75	0.80	0.75	0.45	5	180.0	19.0	10.0	F	P	9.1	0.60	0	35.0	1.4	0.1	0.0	0.25	-0.15	0.54	0.0	0.2	0.51	20000	0	200000	0	1	0

Normal Taxi Acceleration Curve

Taxi acceleration curve

Now the experiments go from top speed to the way the car accelerates. By comparing this curve of the standard Taxi acceleration to the graphs below, you can see the different effects of different parameters. Note that the standard Taxi has a 0-100km/h time of about five seconds but a top speed of only 144km/h! This is the lack of realism you can expect from the normal acceleration mode.

Effect of Acceleration on Top Speed

Engine acceleration versus Top Speed

More acceleration means a higher top speed, as you would expect. The TopSpeed setting gives an artificial limit to the maximum speed a vehicle can reach.

Effect of Drag on Top Speed

Drag multiplier versus Top Speed

With a value of 0 for Drag, the Taxi should keep getting faster and faster as there would be no resistance. This does not happen because the TopSpeed setting is limiting the top speed, but this is set to only be 180km/h.

Ofer Porat experimented with the original GTA San Andreas cars and published his results. It seems that a car’s speed limit will be 20% higher than the TopSpeed setting when in the normal acceleration mode. In the advanced acceleration mode, the TopSpeed setting limits top speed precisely.

Effect of Inertia on Taxi Acceleration Curve

Taxi acceleration curves with different Engine Inertia values

This seems to be the key value to better acceleration curves. A higher Engine Inertia value will make acceleration more gradual without lowering the top speed. Unfortunately, the limited top speed makes the car suddenly stop accelerating when it should gradually stop accelerating.

Effect of Drag Multiplier on Taxi Acceleration Curve

Taxi acceleration curves with different Drag Multiplier values

We have already seen the effect of Drag Multiplier on top speed, so here we see how it effects the way the car accelerates. Basically, a high drag makes the vehicle accelerate more slowly and reach a lower top speed. Interestingly, a low Drag Multiplier means the car takes longer to reach its top speed, which is increased. Another important part of realistic acceleration.

Notes on Top Speed

It is interesting that the vehicle does not always achieve the TopSpeed value of 180km/h, which becomes 214km/h in the game. When the Acceleration is too small relative to the Drag setting, the vehicle will not reach its TopSpeed setting.

This means that the TopSpeed setting is simply a limit to the speed of the vehicle. Your vehicle might never actually reach this speed.