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Last Updated on May 12, 2023 by a4autotransport
Horsepower still reigns supreme as the main figure to compare cars against one another and for outright bragging rights however, the metric has lost its allure recently. Family wagons now make 603 horsepower and three-row SUVs can be fitted with 710-horsepower engines. Year after year, automakers continue to increase the bar with even more effective cars. A few automakers, though, continue to chase another, greater rarified figure — top speed.
Top speed runs are making a comeback, as automakers have made large strides in powertrains and aerodynamics. Like lap records, top speed runs are in basic terms for bragging rights. There’s no incentive to having one of the fastest cars in the world beyond giving automakers the ability to say that they have one of the fastest cars in the world. It absolutely does come down to that.
World’s Fastest Cars
- SSC Tuatara: 316 mph
- Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+: 304 mph
- Hennessey Venom F5: 301 mph*
- Koenigsegg Agera RS: 278 mph
- Bugatti Veyron Super Sport: 268 mph
1. SSC Tuatara: 316 mph (Disputed)
Last we heard from SSC, its massive Tuatara carried a top speed of 300 mph, up from the original figure of 265 mph when the car was officially unveiled. With a 5.9-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine capable of putting down 1,750 horsepower when running on E85 fuel, there was no purpose to believe that 300 mph wasn’t possible. Apparently, SSC was downplaying the Tuatara’s capability, as the supercar hit a claimed top speed of 331.15 mph on the way to common 316.11 mph across two runs, easily breaking records set by Koenigsegg and Bugatti earlier this October. Unfortunately, that’s when the controversy started.
SSC put out two videos of the Tuatara’s top speed run, both of which inaccurately displayed the supercar’s speed. The automaker came out with a video claiming that its figures were real, but that both of its videos had been incorrectly edited. And then, the internet went bonkers. Infamous YouTubers started digging into SSC’s video by measuring distances between landmarks, examining the car’s gearbox ratios and engine, and inspecting a helicopter that managed to hold up with the car during its top speed run. Furthermore, Dewtron, the GPS speed monitoring manufacturer that SSC used, claims that it hasn’t approved or validated the top speed run.
So, SSC is in some hot water. The company put out a thorough explanation on what went wrong and data backing up its top speed claim. Jerod Shelby, SSC’s CEO, stated that the company would attempt another top speed run with the Tuatara soon. If the numbers hold up and SSC can substantiate or replicate its top speed run, it will be the fastest, road-legal production car on the planet.
2. Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+: 304 mph
In August 2019, Bugatti topped the formerly reigning Hennessey Venom F5. Not only that, however the Chiron Super Sport 300+ also became the first car to break 300 miles per hour on the track. The final record was 304.773 mph with racing driver Andy Wallace at the wheel on Volkswagen’s Ehra-Lessien test track in Germany. If 300+ mph seems difficult to comprehend, you don’t lack imagination. Covering 450 toes in a single 2nd is mind-bending stuff.
Bugatti holds the crown for now, however the manufacturer may bow out of the race. “We have shown several times that we build the fastest cars in the world. In [the] future we will focus on different areas,” the manufacturer said in a statement. Only 30 of these quad-turbo, 8-liter, 16-cylinder engines will be produced at a cool $3.9M apiece.
3. Hennessey Venom F5: 301 mph (Claimed)
Hennessey Performance Engineering previously owned the top spot of this list with its Venom F5. The successor to the record-setting Venom GT, the F5 has a theoretical and claimed top speed of 301 mph, besting the next fastest car by a strong margin. Too bad Bugatti had to muddle in the top speed wars again.
The Venom F5 makes use of a carbon fiber chassis and is powered by a 7.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 excellent for 1,600 horsepower. While Hennessey has yet to legitimize its claims, the F5 will reportedly dash from 0 to 249 mph and back to 0 in less than 30 seconds. That’s about how long it takes a moderate sports car simply to get from zero to a hundred mph.
4. Koenigsegg Agera RS: 278 mph
If you’re only interested in proven claims, then the world’s fastest cars list skips Hennessey and SSC and picks back up with the Koenigsegg Agera RS. Until Bugatti’s Chiron Super Sport 300+ had blown thru the 300 mph barrier, Koenigsegg and its Agera RS wore the proven VMAX crown with an average top speed of 278 mph. How did the Swedish automaker earn its stripes?
On November 4, 2017, the Nevada Department of Transportation closed an 11-mile stretch of road just outdoor Las Vegas. Koenigsegg turned up with a customer-owned Agera RS and Koenigsegg factory driver Niklas Lilja put down two high-speed runs (in opposing directions). The average pace (including one run at 285 mph) was recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records.the proven VMAX crown with an average top speed of 278 mph. How did the Swedish automaker earn its stripes?
5. Bugatti Veyron Super Sport: 268 mph
Before Hennessey and Koenigsegg jumped into the top speed fray, Bugatti dominated the world’s fastest category. Unlike its upstart rivals, Bugatti benefitted from the massive money reserves of its parent company, Volkswagen. A remarkable investment of time and resources yielded the Bugatti Veyron in 2005. The $1.7-million Veyron utilized a quad-turbocharged, W16 engine to supply 1,001 horsepower to all 4 wheels.
Impressive as it was, the 250-mph Veyron used to be quickly trumped via the 256-mph SSC Ultimate Aero. Bugatti went back to the drawing board and returned with the Veyron Super Sport. An amazing 1,200 horsepower and a slew of aerodynamic upgrades helped the Super Sport to a top speed of 268 mph, clocked at Volkswagen’s Ehra-Lessein test track. Bugatti also developed a convertible version, dubbed the Grand Sport Vitesse, which still holds the record for the fastest open-top production car at 254 mph.