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Supercars. They need to have looks good enough to adorn bedroom walls the world over and to make passers-by walk into lamp posts. Performance has to be monumental these days – nigh-on hypercar levels – and there’s no room for handling like a wet bar of soap. Supercars should be high-tech and the ultimate expression of the distilled essence of high performance. The best supercars need to do it all, and do it better than the competition.
Front-engined, rear-engined, mid-engined – it doesn’t matter too much where you place the engine in your supercar – we have examples of all three in our top 10 best supercars list and that’s the beauty of the breed, each one has been honed to within an inch of its life by manufacturers to showcase the very best of their engineering ability.
Some supercars will be easier to live with than others but long gone are the days of recalcitrant behaviour at low speeds or in town, just about all of the cars here should be just as capable of day-to-day use as they are at clipping apices on a track day or blasting to the South of France.
The supercar buyer has perhaps never had it so good – there are a huge number to choose from and each has their particular zeniths and nadirs, although hopefully more of the former than the latter. But which should you opt for? We’ve rounded up our top ten supercars to help you find out. Click onto the next page to see our full roundup, or click on the list below to read our individual reviews of the cars in question.
It’s hard to comprehend just how far McLaren has come since the 12C, and in such a short space of time. The 720S is now the new McLaren Super Series flagship having taken over the reigns from the 675LT. The car features an all-new body design made from superformed aluminium surrounding the carbon tub chassis. The bi-turbo V8 has also been enlarged to 4.0 litres and now produces a ludicrous 530kW.
McLaren’s goal was not just to make an incredibly fast and powerful car though. Rather than targeting a track-biased result, the 720S had to be a supercar you could use everyday. One of the stand out features of the 720S is the comfort and ride quality that it manages to achieve despite being razor sharp when needed. The ride and pitch control is near peerless and makes it a rival for any of the current crop of ‘everyday’ supercars – while at the same time being much more special.
Despite being racing car sharp, the 720S is not quite as exciting to drive as you feel it could be. A large part of this is down to the engine. It’s by no means dull; in fact, it often feels as though your right foot is connected to a hyperspace button, such is the speed at which it propels you forwards. But none of this detracts from the fact that it is not overly engaging, especially aurally – the engine note lacks the character of rivals like the Ferrari 488 GTB.
Regardless, the 720S is a phenomenally capable car and enables one to experience near-McLaren P1 performance for a fraction of the price.
Ferrari 812 Superfast
When the Ferrari F12 arrived, it moved the hyper fast luxury GT market on in a manner few could comprehend. In replacing the F12, Ferrari had a massive job on its hands. But it’s clearly succeeded, and the 812 Superfast is nothing short of spectacular.
With a naturally aspirated V12 that is unhinged and without restraint, the character of the car is hard to match. The engine note is exquisite but angry and provides a sense of theatre that every supercar should possess. Straight-line performance is nothing short of otherworldly, and throttle response from the naturally aspirated V12 is beautifully fast. But despite this, the 812 is nowhere near as scary as its ‘Superfast’ moniker would suggest.
A large part of this is down to the immense traction that the 812 generates. With a new four-wheel-steering system aiding handling, the traction is initially hard to understand as the amount it is able to generate leaves you with a sense of disbelief.
The steering too, is quick, and after a few minutes guiding this big car from bend to bend becomes almost intuitive. However, due to this it can also come to feel disconnected – quite unnerving, and takes some getting used to. In our eyes the 812 is not quite as good-looking as its predecessor, either.
Despite the marginally negative aspects, we really are splitting hairs and the car is miraculous. We had no idea how the 812 Superfast could be on to another level to the F12, or if in fact there was another level at all, but Ferrari has managed it and created an all time great supercar.
Lamborghini Huracan Performante
The original Huracan felt slightly limp compared to its big brother, the Gallardo. The engine and the noise it voiced were awe inspiring, but the driving experience itself left a lot to be desired. However, the new Performante has rectified the failings of the original and has finally become the car we always hoped and new the Huracan could be.
With a Nurburgring lap time of 6.52.01, it eclipsed the Porsche 918 Spyder by five seconds and that is not a figure to be taken lightly. Despite clearly looking like a road going version of Lamborghini’s Blancpain Super Trofeo racing car, the Performante really is almost as hospitable as the standard Huracan. It could honestly be used every day – provided that the fixed-back bucket seats are left firmly on the showroom floor. They are terrible and horrifically uncomfortable.
The car is essentially a harder hitting, more extreme version of the standard car. Despite producing 21kW more than standard making 470kW and being 40kg lighter, what changes the car completely is the Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva (ALA). The active aero system that the Performante has is unlike anything seen before and is arguably what enabled it achieve the lap time that it did.
Driving on the road, it’s hard to experience the full effects of the ALA but you are more than aware that it is there aiding you through every input. Despite being so heavily track focussed, Lamborghini must be praised for how forgiving they have enabled the car to be on the road – it’s not just some unusable track day monster.
Unsurprisingly it’s ballistically fast with a soundtrack to match. The chorus from the exhaust is pure GT3 racing car and the stability and traction generated by the rear biased four wheel drive system gives you the confidence to go out and enjoy the car for what it really is.
Designed and produced under interesting circumstances, the Ford GT was a long time in the pipeline. With it being based on the highly successful GTE Le Mans racing car, it’s hardly surprising that the GT is utterly sublime on track.
The carbon tub houses a 475kW 3.5 litre twin turbo V6. This is mated to a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox and delivers power to the rear wheels. With the push rod suspension set in race mode, the car drops 50mm and hunkers down on the road. It’s here that the aerodynamics of the car can be fully exploited and appreciated. The car really does posses racing car levels of grip and the only restricting factor is the lack of slick tyres.
The moment one gets in the car and pulls away, the racing car DNA comes out in spades. Sadly at lower revs where the car will probably be driven most, the engine note is on the grainy and angry side. This begins to dissipate as the revs rise and the engine begins to fill with character. As a track car in full track mode, there are few supercars that can match it, but this is to be suspected considering that the car’s platform is a Le Mans winning racing car.
Sadly the superiority that the car enforces on the track is rather lost on the road. The car is so uncompromised that on the road you would be hard faced to believe that you weren’t actually in a racing car. It’s too firm, too noisy, and too unrefined. Will this be an issue? Of course not – the GT’s initial production run sold out almost instantly.
The main issue with the Ford GT though is the price. At over £400,000 it is more than twice a lot of its rivals, and while many of its contemporaries may not be quite as complete on the circuit, they manage to also be refined and work as everyday road cars. Make no mistake, the GT is a monumental and epic car to drive on track but it doesn’t quite hit the mark on the road.
Ferrari 488 GTB
The 488 was a hugely important car for Ferrari as it marked a change in philosophy. Gone was the naturally aspirated 4.5 litre V8 in favour of a twin turbocharged 3.9 litre V8. The engine itself is far more competent and potent than any previous V8 used by a Ferrari, and has claimed two International Engine of the Year titles – a high accolade.
Time after time Ferrari appear to manage what no one else can do in re-writing the rule book and while a lot of us were dubious when hearing about the engine, all scepticism was gone the moment we pulled away. There is no hiding from the fact that it has nowhere near the character of the V8 in the 458 Speciale that preceded it, but it more than makes up for this in performance. In essence, the 488 is the ‘baby’ in the Ferrari range but this is an incredibly misleading statement. It produces 661bhp and drives the real wheels via one of the finest gearboxes we have ever tested.
It’s not just the straight-line performance that staggers, the way the car feels and behaves has to be experienced to believed. The car transitions between inputs with seamless ease but manages to ensure that the driver feels consistently connected to what’s going on thanks to supreme levels of feel.
It’s a car that is nigh impossible to fault in any other area than the engine’s character in comparison to the engine that came before it. There is a reason that when we first drove the car we just said buy one. That opinion still rings true today.
Aston Martin Vanquish S
The Vanquish S marks the end of an era – it will be the last Aston Martin to house the sledgehammer that is the 6.0 litre V12. As a result that makes it a significant car in Aston Martin’s history.
With a new carbon fibre splitter and rear diffuser alongside a revised front end, there is no mistaking this for any other car currently in the Aston Martin range. This is a car definitely not designed for track use, but instead designed to make road driving as fulfilling and engaging as possible.
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The engine note possesses a characterful howl which matches perfectly the personality of the car. Capable and fast, it encourages spirited driving but it never forces a temporary attack of yobbishness. A lot this behaviour is down to the way the Vanquish S rides. Despite having chassis and suspension tweaks over the standard car, it remains supple and comfortable which gives real confidence to the driver. It enables the Vanquish S to transition from fast long distance GT to sports car effortlessly.
Where the car falls apart slightly is that it never feels that fast. In comparison to cars in the same price bracket, its straight-line performance is seemingly barely on nodding terms with cars such as the McLaren 650S. However what the Vanquish S lack in outright performance, it makes up for in character and usability. You would never get bored of the noise that the iconic V12 makes.
Lamborghini doesn’t hurry things along when it comes to its ultra high-end supercars. Since 1966 when the Miura arrived, there have only been three flagship cars between itself and the Aventador.
Thankfully the Aventador was worth the wait. With a V12 engine note that could make Pavarotti jealous, its soul was undeniable. Some argued that the previous Murcielago was too restrained in its styling but few cars can match the Aventador for presence.
With a sophisticated four-wheel drive system that transfers all 691bhp to the road, its acceleration is ferocious. It feels quick all the way through the rev range and it will carry on accelerating to well north of 200mph.
Like all big Lamborghinis, it is not without fault. Despite using a carbon fibre monocoque to reduce weight, the car cant help but feel heavy and the width of it is something that cannot be ignored. Unsurprisingly visibility is dire but it all but adds to the character to the car. Where disappointment may lie is that we have experienced inconsistencies between the brakes on various cars. They have all been powerful and strong but strain is clearly caused by the mass of the car. Even on Aventadors with strong brakes, they are hardly track worthy even though they are carbon ceramic.
Despite its niggles, the Aventador is part of history and surely the whole point of a big Lamborghini is for it to be a little bit mad.
Porsche 911 GT2 RS
There’s weight of expectation on the GT2 RS’s shoulders – for those that care about such things it’s the quickest road car around the Nordschleife – as well as being the most powerful 911 Porsche has ever lined up in its showrooms. It has a 3.8-litre flat-six that develops 515kW and 750Nm of torque, enough for a 2.7sec 0-100km/h time and a top speed limited to 340km/h, figures assisted, no doubt, by its low 1470kg kerb weight.
As well as being quick and expensive it also wears some of the most aggressive aero yet seen on a 911. Start it up though and the looks are quickly forgotten as the aural aggression emanating from its titanium exhaust has to be heard to be believed – it sounds like one very angry supercar.
Initially this isn’t translated into the driving experience as driven gently the GT2 RS is remarkably tractable and could almost be mistaken for a standard Carrera. But that’s not how you’re going to drive it is it? Turn the volume up to 11 and the GT2 certainly doesn’t disappoint with monumental turbocharged shove from that flat-six that somehow Porsche has managed to blend with a throttle response that’s absolutely razor sharp.
Given the GT2 RS is channelling getting on for 700bhp through its rear wheels you could be forgiven for thinking it would be a trifle unwieldy but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s incredibly well balanced with nigh-on perfect balance thanks to its weighty yet unequivocal steering and superbly judged damping. As a way from getting from A to B it has few peers… it’s just a shame there are so few places where you can really unleash its performance.
Audi R8 V10 Plus
Where the latest R8 V10 Plus loses out to the 911 Turbo S in terms of everyday usability, it more than makes up for in having a wonderfully special drivetrain. It is refreshing to be able to experience a naturally aspirated V10 in this day and age where engine sizes are being reduced and being supplemented by turbochargers.
Audi hasn’t squandered the chance to shout about its use of a naturally aspirated engine and has instead produced one of the all time great engines. The performance available from the engine is optimised by the use of an all wheel drive system that is pleasantly rear biased. This creates phenomenal levels of grip and means that it is a very easy car to begin to push and become at one with.
This can become frustrating at times though as the levels of grip available mean that it can often be harder to get the car up on its toes and in a position where the car can be readily adjusted on the throttle. This can mean that the R8 can feel overly locked down and secure rather than playful.
In our opinion the latest iteration is not as pretty as the previous model but this all pales into insignificance when the engine note is heard for the first time. It howls and needs to be enjoyed as the world begins to shy away from V10’s. It may not quite possess the everyday usability of a Turbo S but it is as close as you can get and it more than makes up for it other areas where its true character shines through.
The McLaren 570S certainly punches above its weight in this company and despite impressive performance figures this is a car that’s actually remarkably practical and dare we say it almost every-day usable.
At its heart is the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 that’s the mainstay of the McLaren range and in its 570S application it’s good for 420kW at 7500rpm and 600Nm from 5000rpm which gives vital stats of 204mph, cracking the 0-100km/h barrier in 3.1sec on its way there. The V8 is mated to a seven-speed twin clutch transmission that drives the rear wheels through an open diff.
While the engine is impressive – if a bit lacking in low-down torque in some circumstances – it’s the 570S’s chassis that particularly breath taking. When driven normally it’s perfectly comfortable and supple yet turn up the handling and engine modes to Sport and the McLaren is hugely approachable, lithe and nimble-footed. While its body movement is always well controlled it retains enough of its pliancy to not be put off its stride by unexpected dips, crests and bumps.
Its carbon brakes are strong and responsive with good feel while the steering is well weighted and follows inputs with alacrity. While it uses the McLaren carbon Monocell it’s been modified to lower the sills to make entry and egress easier and the cabin itself is a lovely place to spend wheel time whether you spec the Sport or Luxury interior.