Supercars aren’t even rare these days; you can pretty much find one in every big city. The apex predators – the highest horsepower cars in the world – they are a breed apart.
You need an ‘in’ at the factory to buy them at all and they’re a clear way for the 1% of the 1% to show the rest of the world who is really on top. They can cost millions of dollars, they can be a nightmare in the inner city and you may never use more than 10% of the throttle. These cars are about status, theater, and plain showing off.
Feast your eyes on 10 of the most powerful production cars that money can buy.
12. Porsche 918
Horsepower: 770 bhp
The final member of The Holy Trinity was perhaps the most technically impressive. It had just 770 bhp, but this mid-engined supercar was four-wheel-drive and every bit as fast as the McLaren and Ferrari. Porsche managed to produce a car that, technically, returned 80 mpg as well.
It lost out to its Italian and British rivals in the group tests thanks to a perceived lack of drama and cache. At $845,000, it was a performance bargain, though, present company considered.
The Porsche relies on a 4.6-liter V8 together with electric motors to produce that 770 bhp and 944 lb-ft of torque.
That resulted in a car that hit 60 mph in 2.5s and didn’t stop until it breached 200 mph. The last one rolled off the line in May 2015, but if you’re hoping to get a used one cheap then you’re in for a disappointment. Today the Porsche sells for up to $2 million on the open market.
11. Corvette ZR1
Horsepower: 755 bhp
The 755 bhp Corvette ZR1 is a work of art and you can order this $121,000 road rocket right now. It’s a 212 mph machine that hits 60 mph in 2.85s.
There is no clever hybrid technology; this is a good old meat-and-potatoes 6.2-liter supercharged V8 using essentially the same engine featured in the Dodge but with its own unique development. You can order a seven-speed manual transmission for the full American supercar experience and rest easy knowing this a brutally fast car.
It can also match Europe’s best when it comes to aesthetics, too. The world used to laugh at American supercars, but that doesn’t happen anymore thanks to cars like the Corvette ZR1, which looks set to be one of the purest gas-powered sports cars money can buy. It’s become the modern-day Dodge Viper, but it’s so much better.
10. Tesla P100D
Power: 779 bhp
This is a family sedan that will hit 60 mph in 2.5s and top out at 155 mph. It comes loaded with a ludicrous amount of horsepower with up to 779 bhp in full Ludicrous Mode. The Tesla P100D’s party trick is torque – 920 lb-ft of it to be precise, and it’s all available instantly.
Allow that to sink in for a moment. It’s a family sedan that is rubbing shoulders with the supercar elite. Owners have already shown just how fast this car can be at the strip, where it has dismantled supposedly far more capable sports cars over the quarter-mile. You just plant your foot and the car will do the rest; in fact, you can even leave a modern Tesla to drive you home after a day at the races.
On the rare occasions you take over the wheel from the Autopilot system, you’ll have a devastatingly fast car underfoot. It’s heavy, so you really cannot say it’s a true sports car, but it is scary fast in a straight line. If Elon Musk can keep the company on course and unlock ever lighter batteries, the upcoming Tesla Roadster is going to be every bit as good as he says it is.
The Model S P100D is a weapon and a luxury car, all rolled into one. If you’re in the market for something a little different, you might well want to take a look at the lease deals. This is affordable sports car ownership and the fuel, the electricity, is basically free.
9. Dodge Challenger SRT Demon
Power: 808 bhp
Even Dodge calls their Challenger SRT Demon a street-legal drag racer, and for good reason. This 808 bhp monster devours drag strips, hits 60 mph in 2.5s, and costs ‘just’ $86,090.
It’s actually decently affordable and one of the few cars you can order without a personal invitation. The Demon is a development of the Hellcat, which was mad enough on its own, and the bulbous retro chic body hides a 6.2-liter supercharged V8.
It pumps out up to 770 lb-ft of torque, can smoke the tires in any of the first four gears and hits 168 mph flat-out. It helped the Challenger depose the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro as the ultimate modern muscle car and the competition are still licking their wounds. The gearbox had to be an 8-speed automatic, but it comes with a manual transmission shift mode for the traditionalists and this is a real sports car you can use as a daily driver.
8. Ferrari LaFerrari
Power: 950 bhp
Price: $1 million
The Italian legend opted for a mild-hybrid with the LaFerrari and the Enzo’s successor comes with 950 bhp from a 6-liter V12 and supplementary 161 bhp (120kW) electric motor for the KERS system. It’s a 217 mph car that hits 60 mph in 2.8s and the hybrid system provides torque fill and torque vectoring in this rear-drive package.
This car is relatively mass-produced compared to the others here and a production run of 499 cars and a price tag of $1 million actually makes it look like a performance bargain. They were certainly a good investment, as a pristine car went for $7 million at auction in 2016 and the last open-topped Aperta just sold for $10 million.
The Ferrari was a titan when it was launched in 2013 and this, the McLaren P1 and the Porsche 918 were known as ‘The Holy Trinity’. Their respective lowly positions here show how far and fast the game has moved on.
7. McLaren P1 LM
Power: 986 bhp
Price: $3.7 million
This 986 bhp hybrid is the ultimate incarnation of the McLaren P1 that could just have been the best hypercar in the world. It’s a run of just five cars and you could argue it isn’t a production car at all.
Lanzante, the same outside tuner who created the roadgoing McLaren F1 LM in the 80s, took five McLaren P1 GTR track cars and made them road-legal. So it’s a track-focused McLaren P1 with plastic windows, 130 lbs of weight-saving over the track car, and a more aggressive set-up.
A 3.8-liter twin-turbo engine joins forces with two electric motors to produce the 986 bhp and the McLaren can even run on electric only, rather than using the hybrid powerpack purely as a booster.
The P1 LM comes with trick aerodynamics, lighter panels, and a stripped out interior, so your $3.7 million investment actually bought you less rather than more. Predictably, though, this special edition sold out without officially going on sale.
6. Aston Martin Valkyrie
Power: 1130 bhp
Price: $3.2 million
The British legend is on a roll as of late, after hooking up with Mercedes-Benz to supply engines for the DB11 and the new Vantage. The 1130 bhp Valkyrie, though, is another level entirely. It’s a technical exercise, designed by legendary F1 engineer Adrian Newey, and car enthusiasts around the world have fought tooth-and-nail to get one.
It’s a road-legal racing car and a joint project with Red Bull Racing that James Bond’s company car manufacturer will build just 150 of that weigh just 2,270 lbs each. It gets a 6.5-liter V12 which works in concert with a KERS energy recovery system from Rimac for torque fill and vectoring. This is a pure racing car with plates, although there are 25 track-only versions, too. With this weight and this power, it could be the most dramatic road car out there right now.
5. Rimac Concept One
Power: 1224 bhp
Price: $1 million
Rimac has recently revealed the plans for a new, 1914 bhp C_2 concept that could take the crown and become the highest horsepower car in the world when it arrives…IF it arrives. The Concept One, though, is right here, right now.
Rimac was the lone wolf in the EV hypercar sector for a long time and Maté Rimac took a show car and a theory around motor shows for years. Nobody believed him, but he built a technical tour de force and now works with car manufacturers around the world to perfect their EV systems. The Koenigsegg Regera and Aston Martin Valkyrie both have Rimac systems on board. Some others do, too, but they don’t shout about it.
The Croatians produced a 1224 bhp supercar with headroom to release more power that is basically on a level with the EP9 in a Grand Touring package. It looks other-worldly and the driver can trim the driving experience with the help of a supercomputer.
Rimac fitted a 250kW motor in each wheel and it, too, offers advanced torque vectoring and next-level traction control to contain its 1180 lb-ft of torque. The end result is a 225 mph car that hits 60 mph in 2.5s and comes with a wall of torque. It’s a simple matter to boost the horsepower, too, by fitting stronger motors. It has thrashed the LaFerrari, supercars, and purpose-built racers on the dragstrips of America. Richard Hammond crashed the demonstrator while filming The Grand Tour, but the Concept One will be back.
The company made eight customer cars in total, and sold them for $1.3 million apiece, plus options. Those brave early buyers got the future of electric hypercar technology, today.
4. NIO EP9
Power: 1341 bhp
Price: $1.48 million
The EP9 is flying the flag for the EV revolution, and a new lap record at the infamous Nurburgring has given this battery-powered monster instant credibility.
NIO is using its 1341 bhp hypercar to develop self-driving tech for the next generation of city cars and sedans. As well as blowing Lamborghini’s record into the weeds in Germany, the company has claimed manned and self-driving lap records at the Circuit of the Americas and more. This is more than a car, then, and the tech is worth watching.
As for the raw speed, the EP9 is a four-wheel-drive weapon with a motor in each wheel. This is a step-change in car design and it is the undeniable future. The Tesla Roadster, due in 2020, could take over the mantle on a more approachable scale. But right now that car is a drawing and this one is real. Placing individual motors within each wheel provides torque vectoring and the most advanced four-wheel-drive system, without additional hardware.
It’s also the best place for the weight distribution, although the heavy battery packs cancel out the advantage right now. The battery packs switch out, the car promises more than 248 miles on a charge and it’s every bit as spectacular as a Koenigsegg or LaFerrari in the high-tech interior. This is disruptive technology and arguably the fastest point-to-point car in the world right now.
Is it a production car? Well, it wasn’t, as all seven of them were pledged to investors of the company, but after the Nurburgring record, the company pledged to build 10 more for $1.48 million. Inevitably, it has sold out.
3. Bugatti Chiron
Power: 1479 bhp
Price: $3.4 million
The Bugatti Chiron looks like one big wing and it needs all the downforce it can get to keep its 1479 bhp under control. The Chiron is just an orgy of absurd numbers, from the 249 mph top speed through to the 8-liter engine, four turbos and three days every car spends in the paint inspection tunnel to ensure the finish is beyond perfect.
VW bought the racing icon from the early 1900s back to life with a simple mission: it had to make the fastest, most powerful, most next-level hypercar in the world. Bugatti loses money on every car, but this is a PR machine for VW and is, effectively, its road-going motorsport program.
Koenigsegg and Hennessey have stolen its thunder here, but the Bugatti is a more complete car and this war isn’t over. Over the life of the Veyron, Bugatti gave it 25% more power, so we can expect the final Chiron to be chomping at the bit around 2000 bhp.
The Chiron is four-wheel-drive, pumps out 1180 lb-ft of torque and yet this is one of the few cars here that you could use as a daily driver. It’s as soft and gentle as a Golf until you go for the handling set-up and ignite the turbos. Then it’s simply faster than the human brain.
Despite all this, though, the Chiron is a disappointment. The Veyron truly broke new ground, while the Chiron is a Veyron Plus, and we’re looking for more next time from VW’s R&D lab on wheels.
2. Koenigsegg Regera
Power: 1500 bhp
Price: $2 million
Koenigsegg is a near-perfect counterpart for the romance of the Italian supercars. It offers cold and stoic Nordic logic and brute hammer-like force to create big horsepower, rear-wheel-drive cars that push the limits of science and technology.
The $2 million Regera is the company’s most powerful car to date, and it’s a hybrid – the most powerful hybrid production car in the world, to be precise. The factory put just 80 units up for sale and sold out before the car turned a wheel in anger.
As well as the twin turbo five-liter V8, the Regera has three electric motors that all combine to produce 1500 bhp and a simply scary 1475 lb-ft of torque. Trick suspension, active aerodynamics and all kinds of clever tech keep the Regera on the road.
Those electric motors provide 670 bhp in total, and they also allow for proper torque vectoring and torque fill to make it even faster. There is even a hydraulic coupling that unhooks the engine below 30mph so it can run on electric only for 22 miles, and it doesn’t have a gearbox. Instead, the Regera gets Koenigsegg’s patented Direct Drive system, which cuts serious weight and helped the Swedes produce a hybrid car that weighs 3,589 lbs by effectively using one gear.
This is a 249 mph car that can hit that target in 20 seconds flat, that hits 60mph in 2.8s, and is easily one of the fastest cars in the world. This could still be the highest horsepower car in the world by some margin, as the theoretical output of the engine and electric motors combined is 1800 bhp, but the company has limited it to 1500 bhp to make sure the two systems play nice.
1. Hennessey Venom F5
Power: 1600+ bhp
Price: $1.6 million
This is billed as America’s hypercar and, having started building supercars by essentially modifying a Lotus, John Hennessey has taken it to the next-level with the 1600 bhp Hennessey Venom F5. This is a 301 mph car and was designed from the ground up with high-speeds in mind.
This is a car to take to the strip, race against the best, and then drive home.
It’s small by hypercar standards and it comes with an 8-liter V8 with ‘at least’ two turbos and a minimum output of 1600 bhp, with more on offer. It has low-drag aero, weighs 2950 lbs and should hit 186 mph in less than 10 seconds.
It’s a throwback of a car which rejects modern hybrid technology in favor of brute force. You can even order your Venom F5 with an old-school manual transmission, which we are sure plenty of customers will. There are just 24 going into production and they start at $1.6 million. Don’t worry, though, because if you haven’t ordered yours already then you have already missed out.
The VenomF5 is new, and the arms race never ends, but right now the USA is winning the war and has the highest horsepower car in the world.