It is an ageless debate; which country makes the best supercars? It’s also one where you’re bound to encounter a lot of different opinions due to the competition out there. Could it be the UK for handcrafted, timeless style, Italy for its speed and flamboyance or Germany for technological advancements and reliability? Well, whichever way you lean, we’ve given you our Top Five based on the current supercar market and would love to hear whether you agree or not!
At the top, a silver Bugatti Veyron, via PSParrot
5) Japan. Major players- Nissan, Lexus, Honda
The Japanese have not featured in the supercar market that prominently over the years because they tend to lack identity and create cars for a broad audience, meaning they can have a shortage of personality. However, the country predominantly known for its small, economical vehicles has produced a few supercars over the years that have stolen our hearts and can compete with the very best…
The 2015 Nissan GT-R via smoothgroover22
The Nissan GT-R sent shockwaves around the world in 2007 when it recorded the fastest ever lap time by a production car at the Nürburgring. It is a fantastic blend of brutal speed and everyday comfort and each engine is hand built by one of the four ‘Takumi’ master craftsman, adding a delightfully personal touch to an already popular car. Depending on which version you get, you’re likely to have between 545bhp and as much as 600bhp if you go for the Nismo model, all from a 3.8L supercharged V6, that will get you from 0-62mph in under three seconds- quite a car we think.
Lexus had a bit of a reputation for creating luxury cars with a bit of a soft underbelly until they released the LFA in 2010 and put themselves into the higher echelons of supercar brilliance. The Lexus LFA was once described by Top Gear presenter, Jeremy Clarkson as his favourite car of all time and it is easy to see why. It’s a tragedy that only 500 were made for production, but does add to its exclusivity. The 4.8L V10 under the hood produces a shade over 550bhp and tops out at over 200mph. A car to make a brand!
The brilliant Lexus LFA, via Tennen-Gas
The original Honda (Acura) NSX from 1990 was a mid-engined sports car that was iconic and popular, but with less than 300bhp it does not sit in the prestigious ‘supercar’ category. However, the new second-generation edition due to be released later in 2015 is an aggressive looking, hybrid supercar that is likely to cough out 550bhp+ and is boldly heading into an exciting new place. Watch out, Japan is brewing up a storm!
4) The United States. Major players- Hennessey, Ford, SSC
America has huge motoring pedigree and an equally impressive history, inventing its own form of motorsport (NASCAR) that owes its routes to bootleggers outrunning and evading the authorities during Prohibition. Since then, the US has been world renowned for its muscle cars and Tesla, Dodge, Chevrolet and Cadillac are synonymous with the American car industry. Remarkably though, the American’s have come up with some absolute pearlers in recent history to contribute markedly to this category.
The new Ford GT, via PHOTOS-AUTOS.COM
The original 2005 Ford GT that drew inspiration from the GT40 racing cars of the 60s was a mid-weight sports car that had a 5.4L supercharged V8 and wouldn’t quite make the cut in such esteemed company. However, Ford have recently released their 2016 concept at the Detroit Motor Show with a twin-turbo, 3.5L V6 engine that will produce over 600bhp. Ford have said that it will have one of the best power to weight ratios of any production car with its carbon fibre shell and so it promises to be another 200mph+ car on the market. Watch this space!
The small time American company SSC did the unthinkable in 2007 and brought down the European powerhouse Bugatti when their Ultimate Aero clocked 256.14mph and took the Veyron’s World Speed Record. Incredibly, a car that can go this fast doesn’t include driver aids such as ABS and traction control as the company wanted it to be a ‘driver’s car’. Either that or its one for the clinically insane, but it was an incredible feat nonetheless!
A white Hennessey Venom GT, via Axion23
And of course, we can’t mention the United States without talking about Hennessey, who’s 1244bhp Venom GT achieved a top speed of 270.49mph on 14 February 2014 to smash the previous record that had been held by the Veyron Super Sport since 2010. Hennessey, not to be outdone by themselves, have announced the Venom GT’s successor, the Venom F5, which will take the mantle of fastest production car in the world if it reaches the promised 290mph.
With these supercars chomping at the bit, it’s clear the US is starting to challenge the supremacy of European supercars, at least when it comes to straight line speed.
3) Germany. Major Players- Volkswagen Group, Mercedes, BMW
The Germans are ultimately top dogs for innovation and evolution. They may not possess the same kind of flair as the Italians, but no one compares to them when it comes to pure engineering. Continually breaking the boundaries, a lot of other manufacturers owe much to the Germans who are often at the crest of the wave- just look at how well Mercedes are doing in Formula One right now.
The Porsche 918 is the fastest Porsche ever created, via Ben
German mega-corporation Volkswagen own extravagant marques Porsche, Audi and Bugatti; three of the most award-winning sports car brands of all time. So when we talk about the umbrella that is Volkswagen, we can reference the Porsche 918, Audi R8 and Bugatti Veyron all in one sentence- that’s quite some list for one overarching company.
The Porsche 918 is a hybrid supercar that has a top speed of 214mph, a 0-62mph of 2.6secs and 887bhp and is markedly cheaper than the McLaren P1 and LaFerrari that it is in direct competition with. The R8 on the other hand was widely heralded as a ‘great’ upon its release in 2007, not for its blistering pace or stats, but because of its handling, agility and driver sensation. And then we have the Bugatti Veyron. This car needs little introduction or explanation and has probably been part of every single supercar compilation made on YouTube since its release in 2005. The Veyron has held various speed records in different forms over the last 10 years and is thought of in the same sense as Concord as a pure piece of engineering.
A BMW i8 parked outside the front of our office…
Then there’s Mercedes-Benz and BMW; two classic brands of impeccable taste and power that specialise in performance cars, but occasionally produce something a bit special. The new efficient and intelligent i8 is widely debated as a ‘supercar’ by purists, but it certainly is a vision of the future of performance motoring and whether you love it or hate it, you can’t help but respect it. Take it from us though, it is quiet, seriously quiet- ssssh! Mercedes-Benz have teamed up with McLaren on several occasions over the years and one of their biggest successes was their 600bhp SLR model. Mercedes followed that up with their very own solo project that produced the SLS AMG. Most supercar lovers would be very happy to see either of those bad boys on their drive!
2) United Kingdom. Major Players- McLaren, Noble, Aston Martin
The UK also has a very rich vein of motoring pedigree even if a lot of the major manufacturers like Mini, Jaguar, Range Rover and Rolls-Royce are now owed by foreign companies. Still, the links with Britain in motoring are ever present as highlighted in F1 with a lot of the major teams, principals and drivers still owing allegiance to these small isles. Yes, that’s right, Lewis Hamilton did win the 2015 World Championship, even if it was in a German made car this time round.
The Noble M600, via High Contrast
However, you will be pleased to know that there is still a great deal of ‘smaller’ manufacturers like Noble, Ariel, TVR, Lotus and Ascari that are producing sports cars that will take your breath away. The Ariel Atom will take your face off as well as your breath as (depending on your model type), you could be doing up to 150mph in a car that has no doors, roof, windows or windscreen. Still, its seriously good fun!
Some great examples of what Britain has to offer more seriously in the supercar market though are the Noble M600 with its Yamaha twin-turbo V8 that produces 650bhp and an estimated top speed of 225mph and the TVR Sagaris that seems a little dated now, but held up well in its day, 10 years ago now. If we are willing to cross the very blurred line of territory, then of course the Aston Martin One-77 which costs nearly £1.2m and goes a cool 220mph certainly fits the bill, but how ‘British’ Aston is nowadays is rather controversial, having had various owners over the past 45 years, including Ford Motor Company.
An exquisite example of a McLaren F1, via Eddy Clio
So we’ll save the best till last, McLaren. The Woking-based manufacturer has been flying the flag for the British supercar since 1992 when it produced the much lauded McLaren F1 that has certainly stood the test of time and more recently the P1, considered by many to be the game-changing auto of 2014. The McLaren F1 was widely regarded as the best car of the 20th century and although the P1 might not match that accolade, it is certainly up there as one of the most ground-breaking cars to have ever been developed. Long may the McLaren boys continue!
1) Italy. Major players- Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Pagani
It’s no surprise to see Italy sitting at the top of the pile. The Italians have always set the benchmark in the supercar market with their passion and verve showing through so obviously in their creations. Wherever in the world you grow up as a kid you have posters of the Lamborghini Countash, Diablo or Veneno on the wall, or if your heart bleeds red then the Ferrari Testarossa, F40 or Enzo take their place. Ferrari and Lamborghini are still the marquee brands, but now the market is shared with some notable other such as Maserati and Pagani.
The iconic Ferrari F40, via Minh Hoang
Maserati has been under Fiat’s ownership since 1993 and although it had a brief stint under Ferrari’s banner, it is now partnered with Alpha Romeo and Abarth. The company has managed to make some stunning looking cars of late, with the Maserati MC12 top of the pile. This exclusive 600bhp supercar was built using the Enzo chasis, but was far more goo looking than its Ferrari counterpart. The wickedly mischievous Pagani are the new boys on the scene and their Zonda and Huayra models are just pure theatre- the kind of cars that make your hairs stand on end and giggle like a schoolboy. They may be relative newcomers, but boy they pack some punch, with the Huayra below coming with 730bhp as standard.
The Pagani Huayra, via Axion23
Lamborghini falls into the same bracket as Aston Martin unfortunately though, as it is now owned by the Volkswagen Group. All its heritage and history lies in Italy, but it is now financed by the Germans. Still, Lamborghini officially formed in 1963 after founder Ferruccio Lamborghini was personally insulted by Enzo Ferrari himself over a problem he was having with his Ferrari clutch. As a result, the tractor mechanic decided to start building his own cars and the rest, as they say, is history- only in magnificent Italy!
Ferrari sit at the very top of the pile. Scuderia Ferrari (their F1 branch) may have struggled in recent years, yet have still managed to entice World Champion Kimi Raikonnen, 2x World Champion Fernando Alonso and 4x World Champion Sebastien Vettel to drive for them in 2014/15. Their 2014 hybrid supercar, LaFerrari with its 950bhp is not only one of the best cars currently on the market, but ever made and we all know what effect the Enzo had on people when it was first released in 2002.
The Koenigsegg CCXR lining up at the Gumball 3000, via Matt Czarnocki
So Italy sit top for now and continue their dominance, with the UK in a close second, but will Germany or the US have the capabilities to overtake them soon? Possibly, but we all know that supercars are never about cost, technology and sometimes even speed, they are about personality and how they make you feel. It is a real shame that Koenigsegg have not been mentioned until now as they are single handedly making waves in Sweden, but their time will come. For now, let’s all continue to hail the Italians!
All images shared through the Creative Commons License.