Fastest cars in the world by top speed, 0-60 and quarter mile

A claim for the title of ‘Fastest Car in the World’ may seem easy to settle. It’s actually anything but: are we talking about production cars, racing cars or custom-made monsters? And what does ‘fastest’ actually mean? For years, automotive publications have tended to define “fastest” in terms of an unbeatable top speed. That is different from the ‘fastest’ car that jumps out of the starting blocks in Usain Bolt style, such as with the well-known 0-100 km/h value.

Professionals often focus on lap times around the track or elapsed time to distance, such as a drag racer who is the first to trip the light beam at the end of a quarter mile; or the 1,000-foot journey of nitromethane-powered NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car dragsters. However, something tells us you’re not looking for an answer to the question “Brittany Force rewrites the NHRA record books with a 3.659-second pass at a mind-boggling 338.17 mph.”

Most barroom speed arguments place a heavy emphasis on cars you can buy in showrooms, even though many of them are beyond the financial means of all but the wealthiest buyers and collectors. Here are some of the enduring sources of speed claims, counterclaims, tall tales and taunting dismissals that are the lifeblood of car enthusiasts – as electric cars add an unexpected twist to these passionate pursuits.

Fastest out of the blocks: 0-60 mph

Thirty years ago, any car that could reach 60 mph in five seconds or less was considered extremely fast. Today, high-performance gasoline sedans and SUVs routinely break sub-4 seconds. As of today, the 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 is crushing everything with a 0 to 60 mph time of just 1.66 seconds. That’s just absurd, but remember that the Demon was designed for the sole purpose of going fast in a straight line. It is also important to realize that direct comparisons are difficult because not all of these times were achieved under similar conditions (prepared surfaces, adjustments for height, etc.). The moral here is to take these times with a small grain of salt.

Coming in behind the Dodge is the Rimac Nevera with an officially recorded 0-100 km/h time of just 1.74 seconds. EVs make up the fastest list, with the Pininfarina Battista coming in a few hundredths slower (1.79 seconds) than the Nevera and right behind the Lucid Air Sapphire (1.89 seconds). Ultimately you end up with the Tesla Model S Plaid, which has a claimed 0-62mph time of 1.99 seconds, although instrumented by Car and driver shows that it completes the deed in 2.1 seconds.

Theoretical bragging rights: top speed

Now more than ever, production cars are reaching top speeds that no public road can safely handle, and that no amateur driver should attempt. Still, that has only fueled certain collectors’ desire to own a car whose terminal velocity is an untouchable measure of speed.

In 1998, five years after its debut, the McLaren F1 – the first road car from the British racing specialists – set a ridiculous new pace for a production car: an average top speed in two directions of 400 km/h on the Volkswagen Ehra-Lessien circuit in Germany. (Cars seeking legitimate speed markers run in both directions to negate any advantage of a tailwind). Sweden’s Koenigsegg surpassed that in 2005 by about 1 mile per hour with its CCR. Then the one-upmanship really began, with record-breaking hypercars in the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 (253.8 mph), the American SSC Ultimate Aero (416.1 mph), a Veyron Super Sport (437.8 mph), Hennessey Venom GT (440.4 mph) and Koenigsegg. Agera RS (450.8 km/h).

Bugatti claimed the hazy crown in 2019 with its Chiron Super Sport, breaking the mythical 500 km/h barrier. Driven by racer Andy Wallace, Bugatti’s 16-cylinder, 1,578-hp, $3.8 million fantasy reached a speed of 504.777 km/h on the 8.6 kilometer Ehra-Lessien.

Today the claim as the highest top speed is achieved by the ridiculous Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut, which Koenigsegg claims is capable of 530 km/h, although at the time of writing it has not yet been tested.

Still a classic: the quarter mile

In the United States, drag racing began as an underground pastime on the dry lake beds of California, and by the 1930s quarter-mile speeds exceeded 100 miles per hour. Things became more organized and professional when Wally Parks founded the NHRA in 1951. And decades after drag racing became big business, and a battleground for manufacturers and drivers, the quarter-mile remains the gold standard for straight-line racing – even though many enthusiasts tend to cite the 0-60 mph stats first. Here the Pininfarina Battista claims the crown with a shocking quarter-mile time of 8.55 seconds, barely trailing the Rimac Nevera which recorded a time of 8.58 seconds. And if you’re curious about where petrol cars rank, the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 is only 8.91 seconds behind.

Lord of the Ring: Germany’s Nürburgring Nordschleife

Especially in the past decade, enthusiasts have become obsessed with lap times on the Nürburgring, a course through the German Eifel Mountains where a race was first held in 1927. In particular, they are targeting the Nordschleife, the ‘North Loop’ that Sir Jackie Stewart first dubbed the “Green Hell” prior to winning a rainy F1 race there in 1968. Today, car manufacturers are competing to shave seconds off the bumpy, hair-raising 20km circuit, with new markings causing a stir around the world. These records are sparking buyer interest in the fastest cars in various categories, from electric cars to affordable frontrunners like the Honda Civic Type R. In 2019, Timo Bernhard drove the track-only Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo by an epic 5 minute time, 7:55pm. -second lap – by far the fastest ‘Ring lap’ for any car ever.

In recent years, the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ set an exciting production car record of 6:44.97, but was beaten at 6:43.62 by the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT Black Series. Porsche factory driver Lars Kern then drove a 691 hp 911 GT2 RS (equipped with a special “Manthey Performance Kit”) around the circuit in 6:43.30, breaking the record by approximately 4.74 seconds. And in 2022, Mercedes-Benz took back the record (where it stands today) from Porsche with its F1-engined AMG One (pictured above), which mapped the ring in just 6:35.183.

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