£1m+ price tags, 200mph+ performance, and guaranteed to turn heads anywhere. Welcome to the world of the hypercar
You might be lucky enough to drive the best supercar in the world, but even the best looking one won’t make jaws drop like a bona fide hypercar. Hypercar makers are where the world’s wealthiest turn when they want the ultimate expression of automotive performance, and manufacturers like Bugatti, Ferrari, McLaren, Porsche and Aston Martin have all pitched in with cars costing around the £1m mark or more.
There are quite a few less well-known manufacturers playing the same game though, and the list of bedroom wall poster cars includes such names as Koenigsegg, Pagani, Zenvo and Arinara. The latest additions to the hypercar genre take advantage of alternative powertrains to beat the established kings of speed – for example the all-electric Rimac Concept_S, which aims to be quicker off the line than any other road car on sale.
All of these hypercars have at least one thing in common though. They’re vying for the increasing number of customers who seem to have cash to burn, with many makers trading on the premise that rarity and exclusivity means collectability – and rising prices – are guaranteed. Which may, or may not, be true.
Most of the hypercar ‘hype’ concentrates on the numbers. Quoted BHP figures range from 600 to well over 1,000, and many combine multiple cylinders, fat turbos, complex aerodynamic systems and hybrid electric assistance to reach their performance targets – although rarely are the hypercar manufacturers’ performance claims independently verified. Still, if you can’t top a claimed 200mph, you’re not really in hypercar territory.
It’s not all about the excessive performance and outrageous prices though, as some hypercar makers like Bugatti and Pagani trade off their reputation for boutique style luxury craftsmanship.
There’s not really a reliable rule of thumb as to what constitutes a hypercar either, but it’s fair to say you’ll probably know a hypercar when you see it. Unless you live in London or another glamorous international capital or destination, your chances of seeing one aren’t that great outside a car show.
So unless you’ve a cool million burning a hole in your pocket and are able to try one for yourself, our guide to the World’s Best Hypercars 2017 will tell you all you need to know…
Top 10 Best Hypercars 2017:
1. McLaren F1
2. Bugatti Veyron
3. Pagani Huayra BC
4. Lamborghini Aventador
5. Porsche 918 Spyder
6. Ferrari LaFerrari
7. McLaren P1
8. Koenigsegg Agera
9. Bugatti Chiron
10. Aston Martin AM-RB 001
1) McLaren F1
When Formula 1 racing car designer Gordon Murray wanted to build the ultimate road car, his boss Ron Dennis at McLaren gave free rein to the project. The result was the groundbreaking McLaren F1 that arrived in 1992, and was the first production car to feature a carbon fibre monocoque chassis.
The McLaren F1 was also notable for its three-seater layout with central driving position, and for using gold for engine bay insulation – although the few hundred pounds worth of precious metal paled into significance against the car’s half-a-million pound price tag.
That doesn’t sound a lot when modern hypercars start at £1m, but at the time it was more than double the price of the Bugatti EB110 GT and a fair chunk more than Jaguar’s XJ220. On the road, the McLaren F1 blew both into the weeds. It was an engineering feat that completely moved the goalposts for hypercars and set a new benchmark for performance.
Its 6.1-litre V12 engine makes 618bhp, and took the McLaren F1 to an officially timed 243mph in March 1998. It was a new world record that wasn’t beaten until the Bugatti Veyron cracked 253mph in 2005.
2) Bugatti Veyron
Jaw-droppingly fast, jaw-droppingly expensive, and jaw-droppingly ostentatious, the Bugatti Veyron arrived on the hypercar scene in 2005. It promptly undermined the McLaren F1’s reputation as top dog by smashing the 250mph barrier, while the even more ‘hyper’ Veyron Super Sport later went on to set a record of 267mph. A specially designed 8.0-litre W16 engine making up to 1,184bhp is responsible for the outrageous speed.
Costing a cool one million euros before customers even began dipping into the customisation options, the Veyron also gained notoriety for its incredible running costs. A set of Michelin PAX tyres cost £25,000, a routine service is more than £15k, and if your wheels show stress cracks after four services you’ll need new ones at almost £10k a corner.
It’s the reason most Bugatti Veyrons do most of their mileage on the back of trucks, while their owners – with a few notable exceptions – use them mainly to show off at moneyed hot-spots around the world.
3) Pagani Huayra BC
The Pagani Huayra is named after the Inca god of wind, and like the Pagani Zonda before it blows a big raspberry in the direction of longer-established Italian exotic builders Ferrari and Lamborghini.
With a monocoque made of carbon fibre and titanium, the Huayra weighs in at less than 1,400kgs. Not surprisingly, therefore, with a 720bhp and 1,000Nm twin-turbo Mercedes-AMG stuffed into its rear end, even the ‘standard’ Huayra goes like stink. Maximum speed is quoted at 235mph, with a 0-62mph time of 3.2 seconds.
The Huayra BC takes things a step further, with a power upgrade reported to be in the vicinity of 800bhp, and a stunning aero package with vast rear wing and racing car style front splitter. In fact, according to Pagani no panels are identical to the regular Huayra. If you didn’t catch the Huayra BC at the Geneva Motor Show in 2016, your chances of seeing one are vanishingly slim. Just 20 cars are slated for production, and it’s likely many will disappear into collections.
4) Lamborghini Aventador
The Lamborghini Aventador is one of the most outrageously eye-catching supercars around, and with a 6.5-litre V12 making 740bhp in SuperVeloce guise it will do almost 220mph and 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds. A hypercar though? Not so much… if for no other reason than its (relatively) affordable price tag and (relatively) high build volumes.
As if to redress the balance, Lamborghini has built a trio of super-exclusive Aventador spin-offs that very much make the hypercar grade. They may only take the standard Aventador running gear (with a few tweaks), but bespoke carbon fibre bodies, extremely limited production runs and multi-million pound price tags seal the deal.
We’re talking here about the Aventador J – a two-off speedster design which predated the Aventador Roadster, the Lamborghini Veneno – three coupes and nine roadsters – that celebrated Lamborghini’s 50th anniversary, and the Centenario – 20 coupes and 20 roadsters – introduced to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Ferruccio Lamborghini’s birth.
5) Porsche 918 Spyder
The Porsche 918 Spyder is a rocket ship designed to push the boundaries of hybrid performance as far as possible. Unfortunately for most of us, that might as well mean into outer space – although the Porsche 918’s £650k price tag is at least a little more accessible than some of its hypercar rivals!
Power comes from a V8 petrol engine and front and rear electric motors, which combine to produce 875bhp and 1,280Nm. Handling is superlative, as you’d expect from a Porsche, but with its plug-in hybrid tech you can also cruise around in silence on batteries only for up to 18 miles.
When you’re bored with that, a prod on the accelerator wakes the dormant beast, and the 918 will hit 62mph in 2.5 seconds and race on to a maximum speed of 214mph. The 918 Spyder has monstered the famous Nurburgring old circuit in under 7 minutes too, but on the road is docile and easy to drive making it the perfect poser mobile.
6) Ferrari LaFerrari
Ferrari itself was so impressed with the latest in its line of ultimate supercars, it decided to call it LaFerrari or ‘The Ferrari’, implying it’s the definitive car from the brand.
Available as a coupe from 2013 and an ‘Aperta’ or spider from 2016, the £1m plus LaFerrari is the ultimate poster car of the era. And no wonder, with stunning styling wrapping up a Formula 1 inspired hybrid system that mates the 6.3-litre V12 from the Ferrari F12 to an electric motor for a combined output of 950bhp.
To illustrate what the LaFerrari is capable of, the firm says it will lap the Fiorano test track an incredible five seconds faster than the previously ‘definitive’ Ferrari Enzo. Carbon fibre technology is used to keep the weight down to an impressively skimpy 1,250kgs, and like most of the current crop of hypercars LaFerrari has active aerodynamic panels so it doesn’t need a massive fixed rear wing like the old Ferrari F40.
7) McLaren P1
The self-proclaimed ‘ultimate expression of McLaren’s engineering expertise’ is called the P1, which as any F1 fan knows signifies pole position on the starting grid.
In production from 2013 to 2015, just 375 examples of the fabulous McLaren P1 were delivered to customers, and once a degree of customisation was factored in, the average sale price for each was reportedly over £1million. F
or the money, the lucky few owners got a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 producing 727bhp, mated to a 177bhp electric motor that takes the P1’s total output up to 904bhp. Even rarer is the McLaren P1 GTR, a track-only derivative with 987bhp, slick tyres and race-prepped suspension, and the road-going P1 LM it inspired, which cost more like £2m and was limited to just five examples.
Performance of the ‘regular’ McLaren P1 is suitably staggering, with a 0-62mph time of 2.8 seconds, and 0-186mph in 16.5 seconds – a figure even the illustrious McLaren F1 trails by almost six seconds.
8) Koenigsegg Agera
When the Koenigsegg Agera was introduced in 2010, the Swedish car company had already made a name for itself with its limited volume CC series introduced a decade earlier. While Koenigsegg may not have the illustrious history of many of its hypercar rivals, it definitely has a spec-sheet to make up for it.
Power comes from a 5.0-litre twin turbo V8 designed in-house (rival Pagani uses Mercedes-AMG engines), which makes 940bhp and 1,100Nm of torque. Weighing only around 1,400kgs due to carbon fibre and Kevlar construction, the Agera has a 3.0 second 0-62mph time, but will reach 186mph in 14.5 seconds – that’s two seconds faster than the McLaren P1.
Top speed for the Agera is said to be 269mph. There’s an even hotter Agera R version which has carbon fibre wheels, upgraded aerodynamics and a monstrous 1,140bhp output, while in 2016 Koenigsegg announced a ‘final edition’ series of the Agera would feature the 1,300bhp engine from its One:1 – another Agera spin-off that introduced the idea of the ‘megacar’, as its claimed power output is equivalent to one megawatt.
9) Bugatti Chiron
According to Bugatti, the Chiron is ‘the world’s most powerful, fastest, most luxurious and most exclusive production super sports car’… but we’re sure they won’t mind if we call it a hypercar!
It’s not exactly a ‘clean sheet’ replacement for the Veyron, as it carries over its basic architecture and a W16 engine. The wheelbase is the same, but the styling is new and the Chiron is a few cms longer and wider than its predecessor. The engine has been completely reworked, however, and produces a staggering 1,500bhp and 1,600Nm of torque, which Bugatti says is a 25 percent increase in performance.
Four turbochargers are configured to ensure peak torque is delivered from 2,000rpm all the way to 6,000rpm – and the car reportedly has a top speed of around 288mph, although it’s limited to 261mph on customer cars. Deliveries start towards the end of 2016, we’re told, and almost half the anticipated run of 500 cars is sold already – at almost £2million a pop, that’s not bad going.
10) Aston Martin AM-RB 001
McLaren may have had F1 engineering genius Gordon Murray to conceive the original McLaren F1, but Aston Martin gets Adrian Newey thanks to its tie-up with Red Bull Racing – and this, the staggeringly potent and quite beautiful Aston Martin AM-RB 001.
F1 fans will know Newey as the man who’s built championship winning F1 cars for Williams, McLaren and Red Bull. Now he’s turning his skills to this astonishing joint venture, which is destined to see the light of day in 2018. Just 150 road cars, and a further 25 track cars, are scheduled to be built, and Aston and Red Bull reckon the normally-aspirated V12 powered monster will be so powerful – and so light – that it has the potential to deliver a 1bhp per kilogram power-to-weight ratio.
We’re also promised ‘unprecedented’ levels of downforce for a road legal car, most of it generated underneath leaving Aston’s design team free to sculpt a body free of massive aero wings and spoilers.
With few additional details yet available, we don’t know how far the Aston Martin AM-RB 001 will shift the performance goalposts for hypercars, or even how much it will cost. But we do know it’s likely to become one of the most desirable and sought-after cars the world has ever seen.