Buying a fast car today is shockingly easy: in top V-6 spec, even the stolid, workaday Toyota Camry will hit 129 mph-and that’s an electronically-limited top speed. But, like the difference between your self-professed Crossfit “athlete” friend and, say, an Olympic wrestler, it’s one thing to be ready for an autobahn sprint at a moment’s notice and another to hold the title of Fastest Car in the World.
At the most elite level, current numbers even for production cars are approaching the ludicrous: zero-to-60 mph times are thumping on the two-second floor, and whereas it took more than a century after the invention of the automobile to hit the 200-mph mark in a road-legal production car (that honor belonging to the Ferrari F40, which in 1987 topped out at a tick over 202 mph), just thirty years after that the new Bugatti Chiron can reportedly go straight from the dealer showroom to 261 mph-suggesting 300 mph is too far down the road.
So, who’s making cars go as fast as they can possibly go while still offering things like air conditioning and stereos and, you know, warranties? It’s a list of who’s-who in the high-end European performance car world, with familiar names like Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Bugatti. No surprises there, though the appearance of one rejuvenated, iconic supercar from a stalwart Detroit badge was a pleasant surprise.
102017 Audi R8 V10 Plus: 205 MPH
The top-performing Audi R8 pulls the same 610 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque from the same 5.2-liter V-10 engine found in the Lamborghini Húracan-and in fact, thanks not just to that shared engine but also a shared chassis, these two cars are very close to being one and the same. And yet this mid-engined, all-wheel-drive Audi halo car, with its 205-mph top speed, ekes out an extra three mph at the top end over its (much) more expensive sibling. The new 2017 Audi R8 V10 Plus is stiffer and more rigid than the outgoing variant thanks to the aluminum-and-carbon-fiber Audi Space Age platform, and has five driving settings via Audi Drive Select-auto, comfort, dynamic, individual, and performance, with the last being exclusive to the V10 Plus variant and offering dry, wet, and snow sub-settings. Plus, with the Audi Virtual Cockpit, the R8 V10 Plus boasts one of the jaw-dropping sexiest infotainment systems (trust us, it’s rare but possible) on the market. (Note: if you’re wondering why the Audi is ranked below the Porsche 911 Turbo S when they have the same top speed, it’s because the Porsche wins the 0-60 mph sprint.)
92017 Porsche 911 Turbo S: 205 MPH
A mostly cosmetic refresh of the excellent last-generation Porsche 911 Turbo S-though enough to justify new nomenclature, as this Porsche platform is designated 991.2-the new model is exactly what you’d expect of a Turbo S: incredibly fast, monstrously capable, and surprisingly emotional for a brand that too often has a reputation for clinical efficiency. The 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S manages to wring 205 mph from a twin-turbo 3.8-liter flat-six with 580 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque, mated to an incredibly precise seven-speed automatic transmission. The Turbo S boasts the typical Porsche cleverness, partly in the form of a Sport Response button that keeps the turbos spinning even under braking by slightly opening the throttle for increased airflow and priming the transmission, which makes engine response to throttle input almost unbelievably quick. It’s touches like this that help justify the car’s $189,000 price tag-not to mention the bragging rights that come with a top speed above 200 mph and a 0-60 sprint time as low as 2.5 seconds.
82017 Dodge Viper SRT: 206 MPH
Sure, the 2017 Dodge Viper is basically just a special edition of a 2016 Dodge Viper with a four-channel anti-lock brake system. But we’re letting it on the list, because after 25 years, 2017 marks the swan song of the ferocious American-built supercar. It wasn’t the most elegant of cars-in fact, it was often unforgiving, truck-like (with an actual truck’s transmission), and hard to handle-but in the right hands the Viper has always been a monstrously capable street-legal race car with a chassis and suspension that grew more magical the closer you drove to the limit. And in the early versions, which famously eschewed any electronic nannies whatsoever, the closer to the limit you drove, the more real danger you put yourself in-in other words, this was a hardboned Detroit sports car that basked in trying to kill overeager dilettantes. And though the modern iteration, even the 206-mph Dodge Viper SRT, grew a bit more accommodating in its golden years, the rear-wheel-drive halo car still boasts a six-speed manual transmission mated to a naturally-aspirated, 8.4-liter aluminum V-10 with 645 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. A no-compromises speed demon to the end, the Dodge Viper will be missed.
72017 Bentley Continental Supersports: 209 MPH
This year, the massive Bentley Continental Supersports claimed the title of fastest four-seat car in the world with a top speed of 209 mph, besting even dedicated sports cars like the Porsche 911 GT3 (199 mph) and the Audi R8 V10 Plus (205 mph). Despite a curb weight over 5,000 pounds, the plush, opulent living-room-on-wheels is properly motivated by Bentley’s stalwart, 6.0-liter twin-turbo W-12 engine producing a whopping 700 horsepower and 750 pound-feet of torque. Plus, you get the sort of niceties for which the ultra-luxury brand is known, like a NAIM sound system, high-touch chrome and aluminum brightware, acres of leather and wood, and cabin silence befitting a meditation retreat. Plus, because it’s not only the fastest four-seat car, but the fastest road-going Bentley ever, you’ll find carbon-fiber bits everywhere from the side mirrors to the front splitter to the optional (amazing) engine cover. If you want to fly by the 200-mph mark with three friends in tow, this is the only car on this list that can take you there.
62018 Ferrari 812 Superfast: 211 MPH
Ferrari stopped being subtle in its nomenclature long ago-hey there, Ferrari TheFerrari!-so now they’re just putting descriptions like “Superfast” right in the model name. But the Ferrari 812 Superfast isn’t false advertising: Maranello has bolted in the most powerful engine ever seen in a road-going Ferrari, a naturally-aspirated 6.5-liter V-12 with 789 horsepower and 530 pound-feet of twist, mated to a dual-clutch gearbox that’s quicker even that the already super-fast (hey, we see why they used the name-it’s got a ring to it!) unit in the Ferrari F12berlinetta. The supercar will go from a standstill to 60 mph in a tick under three seconds, and represents the high-water mark for fans of heavy-breathing V-12 Ferrari engines: the 812 Superfast is reportedly the last Ferrari to sport a naturally-aspirated motor, before focus shifts to turbocharging and hybrid assists. If you’ve got $320,000 burning a hole in your pocket (not to mention the insane connections needed to actually buy a new 812 Superfast in the first place) this car would make for a good investment for that reason alone.
52018 McLaren 720S: 212 MPH
McLaren’s first (and, for many years, only) foray into road cars, the F1 of the 1990s, is still widely considered the greatest car ever made, so it’s safe to say the company has a lot to live up to. And its most recent offerings have shown an incredibly fast maturing process since jumping back into the game with the MP4-12C in 2011-most notably with the incredible new, top-of-the-line McLaren 720S. The $288,475 mid-engined supercar hits an insane 212 mph, thanks in part to some insane aerodynamic trickery and, of course, the 4.0-liter V-8, enlarged from 3.8 liters in the outgoing McLaren 650S, with its explosive 710 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of twist. Gear changes from the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission are up to 45 percent faster than in the 650S, too, and the numbers only get more ludicrous from there: 2.8 seconds to 60 mph; 7.8 seconds to 124 mph; a 10.3-second quarter-mile; and zero to 186 mph in just 21.4 seconds. As the English say, Blimey!
42017 Ford GT: 216 MPH
The 2017 Ford GT is one of the most anticipated cars of this or any year. The GT name has the Le Mans (and Ferrari)-dominating history, the reputation as the baddest car to come out of the U.S. in decades, and, to bring things full circle, proper international sports-car racing dominance in the modern era. It’s a name with impeccable pedigree, and Ford did right by it with this new, approximately $450,000 supercar: 647 horsepower and 550 lb-ft from its twin-turbo, 3.5-liter V-6 developed by Ganassi Racing for the team’s Daytona Prototype; active aerodynamics that help generate 400 pounds of downforce at 150 mph; an anti-lag system that keeps the turbos spinning at around 80,000 even off-throttle (and at full boost they go like hell at up to 176,000 rpm); and an FIA-approved roll cage in the production version that’s nearly identical to the one used in the Le Mans-winning race car. Also, did we mention it hits a top speed of 216 mph?
32018 Lamborghini Aventador S: 217 MPH
The Lamborghini Aventador was perhaps the first grown-up, no-compromises, compete-with-the-big-boys-on-every-level modern supercar from the bomb-throwers in Sant’Agata-a feat continued and arguably bested with the later Húracan models-when it debuted in 2011, and the 2018 Aventador S, which bowed in Geneva, promises a truly bonkers orgy of speed and aggression. A full 20 percent lighter than the outgoing model, at 3,472 pounds, the new Aventador is motivated by an uprated version of the old model’s 6.5-liter V-12 with 740 horsepower and 509 lb-ft of torque. The sprint to 60 mph takes just 2.9 seconds, and the top speed is a breathtaking 217 mph-comparable to the insane 2017 Lamborghini Centenario. Like that car, the 2018 Lamborghini Aventador features a trick four-wheel-drive steering system that points the rear wheels in the opposite direction of the front rubber at low speeds and in the same direction at high speeds, supposedly delivering the driving characteristics of a car with a wheelbase shorter by 9.8 inches, or longer by 19.7 inches-whichever works better. A truly off-the-wall bit of engineering-and we mean that as a compliment.
2Aston Martin Valkyrie: 250 MPH
The hypercar collaboration between Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing-originally known as the AM-RB 001, now re-christened Valkyrie-has yet to have its stated 250 mph top speed tested in the real world (or, if it has, that hasn’t been made public), but we’re going to go out on a limb and trust that this machine can do what its creators say it can. After all, the Valkyrie boasts the right parts: a hybrid propulsion system in addition to its naturally-aspirated, Cosworth-built 6.5-liter V-12 engine, plus a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission by Ricardo, the same company that builds the Bugatti Chiron’s dual-clutch set-up.
Not only that, but the space-age Valkyrie can apparently generate over 4,000 pounds of downforce even without a proper fixed rear wing, has a dry weight of just 2,200 lbs thanks to carbon-fiber tub construction, and can reportedly hold an insane four Gs of lateral acceleration while cornering-double what the bonkers McLaren P1 can hold. So, yes, many of these figures are untested as yet, but neither Aston nor Red Bull Racing are exactly known for vaporware, so we’re giving going to go ahead and say that the Valkyrie will hit 250 mph, no problem.
12017 Bugatti Chiron: 261 MPH
The all-new, gut-punchingly expensive Bugatti Chiron (which reportedly starts at $2.6 million but almost certainly doesn’t end there, given the nearly endless customization options) isn’t even the fastest Bugatti road car in existence-at “just” 261 mph, Bugatti’s newest model is the slower than its outgoing, 267-mph Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport. Of course, the Chiron’s 8-liter, quad-turbocharged, 1,500-hp W-16 engine is electronically limited to 261 mph; remove that limiter for a top-speed run, like the brand initially did with its various Veyron iterations, and you can bet the Chiron will keep climbing. (Plus, as with the Veyron, Bugatti is sure to keep pushing the top speed limits skyward with each successive Chiron variant.) A couple things are for sure: first, Bugatti is very interested in claiming-or keeping, depending on how you keep score in the murky world of top-speed records-the title of “world’s fastest production car”; next, they definitely want their newest model to eventually hold that title over an aged-out car, because it’s hard to get well-heeled customers to part with several million dollars for a new car if it’s only second-best to the old one. So while 261 mph is the stated top speed for the Chiron, the truth is that no one really knows how fast this car can go-but the most likely answer is “faster still.” In any case, the 2017 Bugattin Chiron rightfully claims the title of the fastest new car in the world in 2017.