The world’s fastest cars have left 200mph far behind and are now closing in on 300mph…
Ever since the dawn of the car, it’s been the mission of makers to build the fastest car possible. And today, the world’s fastest road cars are at the cutting edge of vehicle development, so what better way to highlight this technology than to list the 10 fastest cars in the world today?
Once the initial rules regarding having some bloke walk in front of your car with a red flag had been abolished, it’s been something of an arms race between car makers to build the fastest cars possible. While the Land Speed Record has been pursued for decades, it was only really in the Fifties that car manufacturers started boasting about the top speeds of their cars.
One of the first cars to boast about its top speed was the Jaguar XK120, as its name was supposed to infer its 120mph top speed. In reality, the first XK was marginally faster than that, while Jaguar timed a modified example at 132mph in 1949.
Later, the Mercedes 300SL Gullwing hit 140mph in 1955, the Aston Martin DB4 GT broke 150mph in 1959 and the Iso Grifo broke the 160mph barrier. Things moved up a gear when the first modern supercar was produced in 1967, as the Lamborghini Miura broke 170mph. Lambo took the 180mph record with the Countach in the 1980s, while the Ferrari F40 broke the 200mph barrier in 1987.
Only six years later, the McLaren F1 pushed the speed record to 230mph, although in some ways this was an accidental byproduct of designer Gordon Murray’s intent to build the best high-performance sports car in the world. As if to prove the point, it was 12 years before the technical tour de force that is the Bugatti Veyron finally beat the McLaren, and the F1 is still the fastest naturally aspirated car ever built.
The Veyron used a 1,000bhp quad-turbo W16 engine, four-wheel drive and active aerodynamics to reach 254mph, while the final Super Sport added another 4mph to become the world’s fastest car as recognised by the Guinness Book Of Records.
However, as our list reveals, there are plenty of rival models that can challenge the Veyron, while the Veyron’s replacement, the Chiron, is looking to raise the bar even further. Our list below features the current fastest cars in the world. Some don’t qualify for induction into the Guinness records because they aren’t produced in sufficient numbers, but that doesn’t mean they are by any means slow…
World’s fastest road cars:
- Koenigsegg One:1
- Hennessy Venom GT
- Bugatti Veyron Super Sport
- SSC Ultimate Aero
- McLaren F1
- Pagani Huayra
- Noble M600
- Aston Martin One-77
- Ferrari LaFerrari
- Lamborghini Aventador
Swedish supercar maker builds unique one-off models, and the One:1 is claimed to be the fastest of all
Top speed: 280mph
Koenigsegg isn’t a household name in the world of supercars like Ferrari or Bugatti, but the Swedish manufacturer’s One:1 is claimed to be the fastest car in the world, with a theoretical top speed of 280mph. Its 5.0-litre twin-turbo V8 makes a staggering 1,346bhp and 1,371Nm, but as the One:1’s tyres are rated to ‘only’ 273mph, we’ll have to give it a joint first place with the Agera R.
The latter features a 1,124bhp twin-turbocharged V8 engine and an equally mind-blowing 273mph top speed. And that’s not all, because the 0-62mph sprint takes just 2.8 seconds, while 186mph is reached a small matter of 11.7 seconds later. However, until somebody tests a One:1 or Agera R on a very long runway, we’ll have to take the maximum speed figures on trust. Koenigsegg’s first model, the CCR, was officially recorded at 242mph on the high-speed bowl at Nardo, Italy, in 2005, however.
Neat details include a removable, targa-style roof panel for high-speed, wind-in-the-hair thrills, while its light, carbon fibre wheels keep weight to a minimum. However, this performance comes at a price, as you’ll need at least £1million to own one.
Hennessey Venom GT
The unholy alliance of a Lotus Exige and Corvette V8 creates one of the fastest cars in the world
Top speed: 270mph
Based on a modified Lotus Exige and packing a mighty 1,244bhp twin-turbocharged version of the Chevrolet Corvette’s V8 engine, the Hennessey Venom is capable of an astonishing 270mph. And unlike the Koenigsegg, it has proved that fact in 2014 on the tarmac of the Space Shuttle runway at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
However, there’s a caveat. To get an entry into the Guinness Book of Records, the Venom would have had to run at an average of 270mph+ over a measured mile in both directions to account for any tailwinds. It hasn’t. Instead Hennessey says the Venom reached its peak speed at the end of a single acceleration run, and we don’t know if there was a following wind.
Either way, the idea of bolting a monstrous twin-turbo V8 into a Lotus Exige will terrify anyone who’s ever driven the tiny track car, but of course Hennessey extensively modifies the entire package to create the Venom GT.
Bugatti Veyron Super Sport
The Veyron is the official record holder, even though it has been out of production since 2014
Top speed: 269.86mph
The Bugatti Veyron was the first production car to exceed 250mph, but the flagship 1,184bhp Super Sport with its speed limiter removed, raised this figure to 269.86mph in 2010.
More importantly, in the context of a ‘who’s fastest’ list, the Bugatti has achieved its astonishing top speed both ways across a measured mile – so although it may only be third behind a pair of theoretically faster cars, it still holds the official Guinness World Record for the fastest production car.
The genius of the Veyron is that it makes insane speed seem so effortless, with its quad-turbo W16 engine doing the legwork, while the driver sits back in the luxuriously appointed cabin. We wait with eager anticipation to see whether the recently revealed Bugatti Chiron will turn the wick up even further. Meanwhile, the Veyron Super Sport can look down its nose at both Koenigsegg and Hennessey, having ‘walked the walk while they talk the talk’…
SSC Ultimate Aero
The Ultimate Aero held the fastest production car record briefly, until a faster Veyron turned up
Top speed: 257mph
Like Koenigsegg, US supercar builder SSC proudly proclaims its Aero supercar has a theoretical top speed over 270mph, but unlike any Koenigsegg its 2007 top speed attempt was recognised by the Guinness Book of Records. A two-way maximum of 257.41mph made the SSC Aero ‘officially’ the world’s fastest production car – beating the regular Bugatti Veyron – at least for a couple of years until the Veyron Super Sport arrived.
The SSC Aero featured a bespoke 6.3-litre twin turbo V8 with 1,287 claimed horsepower, but in the race for the world’s fastest crown that’s no longer enough.
SSC has a new model called the Tuatara under development with 1,350bhp from a quad-turbo 8.0-litre V8. They showed a prototype all the way back in 2011, but since then deadlines appear to have been missed, and things have gone a bit quiet at the company since 2014, although there are threats of production starting on the Tuatara in 2017.
The F1 was a supercar pioneer that just happened to claim the world’s fastest car crown
Top speed: 242.8mph
Price (when new): £540,000
If you’re on a quest for ultimate speed and usability, then scouring the classifieds for a McLaren F1 remains a pretty good option. Back in 1998 it set a production car world record for its 242.8mph top speed, and there are still not many cars around that will beat it. The record was achieved at VW’s test track in Germany, which boasts a straight that’s nearly six miles long. Top speed was attained with the F1’s 672bhp, 6.1-litre BMW V12 spinning at 8,300rpm, although it was limited for road use at 7,500rpm.
It’s worth remembering too, that the Gordon Murray designed McLaren F1 reached its top speed with a normally aspirated engine – everything that has gone faster since has required at least a pair of turbochargers.
In case you’re wondering, McLaren’s latest hypercar the P1 hybrid is flat-out at a mere 217mph, which places it in the same ballpark as the LaFerrari, Porsche 918 and Lamborghini Aventador.
The Huayra is like a precision timepiece with lots of hand-crafted details inside
Top speed: 225mph
The beautifully crafted Huayra serves up supercar excess in the finest tradition. Lurking beneath the attractive body is a 720bhp twin-turbo Mercedes V12 that propels the Pagani to 225mph.
The Huayra is constructed from carbon fibre and employs an active aerodynamic system that can adjust the ride height at the front and rear of the car independently – as well as automatically deploying the various wings and spoilers. The latest Huayra BC edition ramps the power up by a marginal 10 per cent, which we don’t expect to make too much of an impact on the top speed. However there’s reportedly also a roadster version in the offing, which means the title of World’s Fastest Convertible must surely be under threat…
British supercar maker goes back to basics to deliver phenomenal speed
Top speed: 225mph
If you think the 200mph hypercars in this list are overcomplicating things a little, the Noble M600 could be the car for you.
This British-designed two-seater boasts a 650bhp twin-turbo V8 and a white-knuckle 225mph top speed. However, with no traction control or anti-lock brakes, the M600 is only for the brave – at least if you want to use anything like its full performance potential. If you just want to cruise at ordinary road speeds, the M600 is a pussycat to drive.
It also represents a tremendous bargain in the sort of company where prices start at a million euros. The M600 can be yours for around £200,000, although if you want a bespoke specification the price will probably accelerate as rapidly as the car.
Aston Martin One-77
Seventy-seven of these million pound supercars were built for a select few customers
With its 7.3-litre V12 pumping out a massive 750bhp, and carbon-fibre and aluminium construction giving a terrific power-to-weight ratio, the fabulous Aston Martin One-77 will give its lucky owners the ride of their lives – all the way up to its 221mph maximum speed.
Sadly only 77 examples of Aston’s most exotic car yet have been produced, but the company had no trouble finding owners, even with a cool £1.15m price tag. To drive, it’s not the easiest of hypercars as our brief experience behind the wheel reveals, but for outright desirability the One-77’s scores are through the roof.
Formula One technology puts the La Ferrari into the hypercar league
Top speed: 217mph
Unlike rival hybrid hypercars such as the McLaren P1 and Porsche 918, the LaFerrari uses its petrol/electric power purely for performance. As a result, the 950bhp V12 can blast it to a top speed in excess of 217mph.
The LaFerrari can, according to the Maranello-based marque, blast from 0-62mph in “less than three seconds”, while 0-124mph is managed in “under seven seconds”. Yes, it’s quick.
That said, it’s not the fastest Ferrari road car ever produced, as the now legendary 6.0-litre V12-powered Ferrari Enzo – effectively the LaFerrari’s predecessor – also had a claimed top speed of 217mph, although some sources have suggested it would go a few miles per hour faster.
The Aventador is the closest thing you’ll get to a mass production car in this list
Top speed: 217mph
Lamborghini’s Aventador flagship has few rivals visually, while its 6.5-litre V12 delivers an ear-splitting soundtrack, eye-popping acceleration and a 217mph top speed. The latest in a long line of V12 Lamborghinis, the aggressive styling means the Aventador has become an instant pin-up poster favourite like all its predecessors, from the classic Miura onwards.
The spec-sheet includes four-wheel drive, active aerodynamics and ceramic brakes to help scrub off all that speed before you end up in the bushes. Performance is staggering of course, but if you want to be even more extreme the Aventador also comes in SV Superveloce trim with harder suspension and even more attitude. And while it doesn’t quite offer the exclusivity of the hypercar crowd, there’s no doubt the Aventador offers stonking value when measuring performance by the pound.