With a fresh world record set about half a year ago, and a stable of fast, unforgiving and powerful automobiles set to launch this year, 2011 should be a great year for lovers of tire-burning acceleration and unbridled velocity. Here are the cars that promise to make 2011 the year of speed.
170 mph is super-tame by this list’s standards, but when you remember that the Inizio from North Carolina-based Li-Ion Motors does it (along with a 3.4-second 0 to 60 mph) on all-electric motivation, it looks a lot more impressive. Especially when you consider that the world’s main contemporary electric supercar—the Tesla Roadster—only powers up to 125 mph. Li-Ion detailed plans to start production this year in an announcement at the Detroit Auto Show this month.
Ferrari FF Concept
Ferrari’s four-wheel-drive ‘shooting brake’ styled FF debuted just last week and will make its first public appearance in Geneva. The 612-replacing hatch’s 208-mph top speed and 3.7-second to 62 mph time aren’t that impressive when compared with most of the cars on this list. But how many of those cars do what they do with enough room for a family of four?
Gumpert Tornante by Touring
Recent reports indicate that German supercar-maker Gumpert plans on introducing a fast tourer at the Geneva Motor Show. The car, which was developed with the help of Italian firm Touring Superleggera, will be Gumpert’s second model, joining the muscular Apollo. While details are limited, the Tornante is expected to get a refined version of the Apollo’s 650-hp 4.2-liter V8 engine. That engine powers the Apollo to 62 mph in a flat 3 seconds and to a top speed of 224 mph.
2012 Nissan GT-R
As much car as it gives for the money, the Nissan GT-R still can’t quite compete with the big boys in terms of top speed. That’s okay, though, because while the other cars cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, the 2012 GT-R bases for under $100K. And it can actually beat many of these more expensive, bigger-engined beauties to 60 mph. Newly leaked information indicates that the 525-hp 2012 GT-R will bring back launch control, allowing it to hit 62 mph in around 3 seconds (and 60 mph in under 3).
2011 Gillet Vertigo .5 Spirit
Lately, it’s not just the usual suspects like the Italians, Brits and Germans building supercars; it’s pretty much all of Europe. The cat-like Gillet Vertigo .5 Spirit was born in Belgium. Its 420-hp 4.2-liter Maserati V8 may seem entirely underwhelming in a group of cars like this, but when the car itself weighs just 2,182 lbs., it’s plenty potent. The original Vertigo had a smaller 350-hp 3.0-liter Alfa Romeo V6, but was still able to hit 62 mph in 3.3 seconds. With its bigger engine, the Vertigo .5 Spirit should hover near (maybe below) the 3-second mark.
Freshly leaked, the Pagani Huayra is the model that will replace the Zonda, a car that was known, in some road-legal versions, to hit 62 mph in 3.4 seconds on its way up to 217 mph. With an all-new, bespoke V12 engine from Mercedes AMG, the Huayra should offer similar—if not better—numbers.
Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4
Combining Lamborghini’s newly focused composite research with its decades of engine prowess, the new range-topping Aventador LP700-4 will be among the fastest, most powerful Lamborghinis ever. It’s expected to break the 3-second to 62 mph barrier with a 2.9 second time and will top out around 217 mph. Lamborghini confirmed this week that the new model will debut in Geneva.
G-Power M5 Hurricane RR
With a pair of superchargers, German tuner G-Power added some 300 horses to the BMW M5’s 5.0-liter V10 engine. In the process, it created what it calls the “world’s fastest sedan.” With 800-hp on tap, the Hurricane delivers you and three others to your destination at up to 231.2 mph.
Brabus E V12 Coupe
Prefer a Mercedes to a Bimmer, but still want 800 horses, balls-to-the-wall speed and enough room for the fam? Enter Brabus to grant your wish. Adding its Biturbo V12 engine, Brabus gives the E-Class 2 + 2 800 screeching ponies. At the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, Brabus called it the “world’s fastest Gran Tourismo,” and while its top speed is electronically “limited” to around 217 mph, Brabus claims it is capable of 230 mph.
Last fall, Danish supercar firm Zenvo announced that each of the ST1s that make it to North America will run a cool $1.225 million. Buyers able to cough up that bankroll will be treated to a 1,100-hp 7.0-liter V8-powered car that hits 62 mph in 3 seconds. Top speed is 233 mph. And that’s electronically limited.
Back in late 2009, Keating made a small stir when it hit 260 mph in its TKRs. At the time, that was enough to take the world record. But Keating’s news was only as big as its press release, because the speed hadn’t been independently verified and wouldn’t become an official world record. The ZKRs is a more powerful, 2,200-hp version of the TKRs that could put Keating back in the world-record hunt. Maybe they’ll even invite some Guiness officials this time. Unlike all the Geneva debuts, the Keating is expected to debut at the Top Marques Monaco in April.
Hennessey Venom GT
The Hennessey Venom GT is the Frankenstein of the car world: a small, 2,700-lb., two-seat Lotus Elise overflowing with a 1,200-hp, twin-turbo 6.2-liter LS9 V8 engine. It’s a tuner car so tuned that it’s an entirely new animal. And it promises record-breathing numbers: 2.5-seconds to 62 mph and a top speed somewhere between 262 mph and 272 mph.
SSC Ultimate Aero II
The SSC Ultimate Aero II is the first car on this list to have world-record credentials. And that’s because its predecessor actually held the world record for nearly three years with a 256 mph time. The new Ultimate Aero has gotten slippier, lighter, more powerful (1,350-hp twin-turbo V8 worth of more powerful) and much better looking. And all those factors (save for the last) are aimed at one thing: speed, speed and more speed. With projected top speeds that run as high as 275 mph, the SSC looks like the surest bet to set the next world record. SSC detailed the car in Top Gear magazine last fall, but we’re expecting (or at least hoping) to see it in person sometime before it launches this year.
TranStar Racing Dagger GT
Despite having publicly shown nothing more than renderings, American firm TranStar Racing plans to get its Dagger GT out this year. A purpose-built road rocket set to knock off a laundry list of speed records, the Dagger GT is powered by up to 2,500 horses worth of V8 engine and projects such numbers as a 314 mph top speed and 1.5-second to 60 mph time. It’s a little hard to believe all the hype TranStar is trying to sell without seeing an actual car, but our interest is certainly piqued.
Bugatti Veyron SuperSport
Conversations about fast cars begin and end with the Bugatti Veyron. Last July, Bugatti took the world record with a 268 mph time, adding more than 11 mph to the world record. And while it’s clear that Bugatti will have a huge target on its back until someone like SSC beats that record, the 1,200-hp, W16-powered Veyron Super Sport opens 2011 with full bragging rights.