The front passenger seat is not the place I’d usually choose to sit when it comes to the Volkswagen Golf GTI – a car whose very existence is based on the visceral thrill delivered by its driving experience. But as this is the latest, eighth-generation model not due to see UK showrooms until later this year and we’ve got one of the world’s best test facilities all to ourselves for the next hour or so, it is time to make an exception.
After filling out a variety of forms to gain the security clearance to venture beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of Volkswagen’s vast Ehra-Lessien development centre in Germany, I find myself sat beside VW’s head of driving dynamics, Karsten Schebsdat, as he fires the new Golf GTI flat out in seventh gear along a seemingly never-ending straight. It is ultra-smooth, four lanes wide in parts and a mesmerising 5.4 miles in length.
New Volkswagen Golf GTI gains power boost and more tech
Mk8 hot hatch use familiar 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, and is one of three performance Golfs to be shown at Geneva motor showThe newest version of the genre-defining hot hatchback is based on the Mk8 Golf, which was unveiled last year. It sticks closely to the established template for the model, retaining the Volkswagen Group’s familiar ‘EA888’ turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and sending power to its front wheels exclusively.
Gallery: Most iconic car colour schemes in history (Auto Car)
What makes an iconic livery?
For some, it’s all about racing success and for others, it could be fame on the big screen. Whatever it takes, there are many paint jobs that stand out in the memory. Here, we’ve listed the best paint liveries to grace bodywork from road, racing and rally cars - but which is your favourite?
British Racing Green
As motorsport became popular in the early part of the 20th Century, national racing colour were adopted and Great Britain took on green. The reason for this stemmed from an international race held in Ireland in 1902. As Ireland was part of the United Kingdom at that time, green was chosen for the Napier cars out of respect for the Irish location.
2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI, Golf GTE and Golf GTD compared
Volkswagen has revealed three hot new Golfs: petrol GTI, hybrid GTE, and diesel GTD. We compare them to see how they measure up.In revealing all three at once, Volkswagen aims to future-proof the hot Golf line from launch. Customers can choose which flavour of fuel best suits their performance Golf.
This light green changed in shade depending on which manufacturer was using it and, by the 1920s, it had become a much darker colour used by Bentley. After the Second World War, Jaguar continued with a dark British Racing Green, while Aston Martin preferred a much lighter metallic hue for its DB racing models.
In a world where instant brand recognition is the Holy Grail, America's Gulf Oil had this sorted back in the 1960s. Its famous blue and orange livery quickly became synonymous with endurance motorsport success, especially at Le Mans where the colours adorned first Ford GT40 and then Porsche winners of the 24 Hour event.
However, the Gulf Racing livery was derived from the Wilshire Oil Company’s pallet. In the 1960s, Gulf’s own dark blue and orange was considered too dull by the management to stand out on the track, so when the firm bought Wilshire it adopted its hues and the rest is history. That’s a history that includes the colours being used on Ford, Mirage, McLaren, Aston Martin and Porsche racers.
Volkswagen Up GTI 2020 UK review
Reintroduced baby GTI remains bigger on character than outright pace or grip but still has simple, accessible driver appeal in spades.Nothing has officially been changed about the Up GTI’s driving experience – nothing that VW has felt the need to communicate, at any rate – and that’s mostly to be celebrated. This makes an amusing feeder hot hatchback partly as a result of its limitations rather than in spite of them and it has character in abundance.
Red and Ferrari is a classic combo and it’s been that way since the early days of the firm’s racing activities. Over the years, though, the colour red has been open to interpretation by Ferrari, especially as colour television was introduced and the company wanted a red that stood out more onscreen.
It all started with Rosso Corsa, or racing red, which has been the basis for all factory race cars. With increased television coverage, this became a brighter, more orange hue, but at the 2007 Monaco Grand Prix Ferrari made a return to the deeper original shade and has stuck with it ever since. The only deviations from this have been on the rare occasions the F1 cars have sported black nosecones: firstly to mark the terrorist attacks of September 2001, and the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005.
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Alan Mann Fords
If the Lotus Cortina became famous for its white and green design, the Alan Mann Racing team made just as big a mark on later Ford models. They included the GT40, Escort and Cortina, all finished in the firm’s distinctive gold over red hues.
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Alan Mann (1936-2012) also ran an aviation business alongside his motor racing team in the 1960s and ’70s. However, for an unknown reason, he used a black, white and yellow livery for his helicopters rather than the red and gold he was famous for on the track.
As if the Audi Quattro was not enough of a sensation when it arrived on the scene in 1980, the rally version came with an equally stand-out paint scheme. Rather than being festooned with multiple sponsors’ stickers, Audi kept it simple with a white base and red, white and black strips on the bonnet, roof and C pillars.
It certainly grabbed attention and also clearly stated Audi’s intention to put the Quattro front and centre in its bid to promote all-wheel drive as the future. Over time, the colour scheme was adapted to suit sponsors, with later rally cars sporting a broad yellow stripe down the flanks. However, the definitive colour scheme was back in 1988 for the stunning 200 Quattro Trans-Am racer.
Ford Mustang Highland Green
Few films have had a greater influence on a single model of car than the movie Bullitt has on the Ford Mustang. All the elements were there to catapult this car to stardom, from Steve McQueen as the lead actor and driver of the Ford to the superb car chase through San Francisco. Yet that subtle metallic green shade capped it perfectly.
2020 Volkswagen Tiguan R prototype previews SUV's facelift
Long-anticipated Cupra Ateca rival resurfaces, showing off a new front end design and quad exhaustsWhile initially appearing to be an example of the high-end Tiguan R-Line, tell-tale signs that this is something more special include a visible intercooler behind the lower air intake, larger brakes and, most notably, the same quad tailpipes as the Golf R hatchback.
Demand for Mustangs in Highland Green rocketed after the movie hit the big screen, though the GT390 Fastback used in the film remained a rare model. In 2001, Ford resurrected the colour for a special edition Bullitt model. It made more appearances in 2008 and 2009, and then again in 2019.
BMW Gosser Bier CSL
It doesn’t get more German than a BMW race car run by Schnitzer team and sponsored by homegrown brewer Gosser Bier. Together, this trio put up an almighty fight in the 1976 European Touring Car Championship and were certainly the most visible thanks to the bright green and striped colour scheme of the 485bhp CSL.
Although the BMW Schnitzer team eventually had to give best to Porsche in the championship, it was the CSLs of Dieter Quester and Ronnie Peterson that stood out in fans’ memories. The simple scheme and minimal sign writing were made for television coverage, while the spectacular antics on-track were just as eye-catching.
Lancia Delta Martini
There’s a long line of cars that have sported the Martini red and blue livery, but few are evocative as the Lancia Delta that took on the world’s rally stages. Both during the infamous Group B era and the Group A period that followed, the Delta’s squared-off styling lent itself to showing off its sponsor’s colours to perfection.
The Delta wasn’t Martini’s first foray into rallying as it had backed Porsche in 1978. Yet it was the venture with fellow Italian company Lancia that garnered Martin the global exposure it wanted. With first the Lancia 037 and then the hugely successful Delta in all its forms, it made household names of the likes of Didier Auriol, Juha Kankkunen and Marku Allen.
Hot hatchback twin test: Mercedes-AMG A35 vs Volkswagen Golf R
Is AMG’s new A35 the best four-wheel-drive hot hatch on the market? Winter’s first blizzard and access to a VW Golf R gave us the perfect excuse to find outA new power has risen in the realm of the everyday hot hatchback – which, for the purposes of the next few pages, is rural Derbyshire. That’s where we’re heading. Right now, though, we’re waiting… for a nice chap in a Volkswagen Golf R, long-standing lord and champion of the realm in question (up yours, Mr Darcy), and another nice chap with a camera or two.
Lancia Stratos Alitalia
Alitalia was a natural fit for the Lancia Stratos when it went rallying. Here was Italy’s national airline paired with the country’s frontline rally team. Even so, the distinguishing colour scheme was actually the work of a German designer, Walter Landor (1913-1995), who had been commissioned by Alitalia to create its corporate identity.
When transferred to the wedge shape of the Stratos, the green and red on a white base was an instant hit. It helped that Landor’s original brief also demanded the design was easily applied to different aircraft, so it was simpler to work on to the Lancia. It also helped the Stratos proved very successful on rallies around the world.
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Lotus was no stranger to iconic colour schemes on its race cars, from the early British Racing Green with yellow stripe to the Gold Leaf colours used in the late 1960s. There’s one, though, that stands out above all others and it’s the John Player Special black and gold livery that Lotus Formula 1 cars sported between 1972 and 1978.
In an era where tobacco money was prevalent in F1 racing, Lotus took it to an all-new level by flogging merchandise to fans. The company plane was decked out in black and gold and you could also buy an Esprit road car in the team colours. It shows how far ahead company boss Colin Chapman was when it came to branding and understanding the impact a great livery could have on the sport and public.
Mazda 787B Le Mans
There’s a lot that’s special about the Mazda 787B Group C race car. Among them is the eye-popping livery that was used on just one of the cars entered in the 1991 Le Mans 24 Hours. It was painted in the arresting colours of clothing manufacturer Renown, with the green and orange segments meant to look like fabric swatches stitched together.
Hatch match: 2020 Volkswagen Golf vs. Ford Focus
It's an age-old rivalry and with the new Mk8 Golf here, the competition between these two hatchbacks is stronger than everThis was the car that, they say, Volkswagen Group autocrat Ferdinand Piëch ordered back to the drawing board because he didn’t like being able to see the seat adjustment rails in the front footwell. Imagine living with him as your boss. Give me quiet mediocrity any day.
As luck would have it, this unusually painted Mazda went on to win Le Mans in 1991 and the colour scheme gained worldwide attention. So, alongside its win as the only Japanese car to do so at that point and the only Le Mans winner with a rotary engine, it also spawned an MX-5 limited edition finished in the same bold green and orange pattern. Each of these MX-5s came with a signed certificate of authentication from Johnny Herbert, who was one of the Le Mans-winning drivers.
Between 1974 and 1996, when tobacco advertising was permitted in Formula 1, McLaren had one of the sport’s most easily spotted liveries. You didn’t need to know much about motor racing to know which team this was thanks to the bold, simple red and white paint scheme that stood out perfectly as the world swapped to colour televisions from old black and white sets.
McLaren barely deviated from the same basic scheme across a 23-year deal with Marlboro. However, a white and yellow livery was painted on Keke Rosberg’s car in 1986 to raised eyebrows. The distinctive colours were also used on an Alfa Romeo F1 car in 1980, albeit in a different layout to McLaren’s.
MG Metro 6R4 Computer Vision
There are plenty of colour schemes that we could pick for the pugnacious MG Metro 6R4, but the one that sticks in the mind most is the blue and white Computervision motif. It said a lot that Austin Rover struck a deal with a sponsor from the pioneering world of computer aided design as the 6R4 was a car built from high tech materials.
It also helps this livery that it is so closely associated and remembered being driven by Tony Pond. He was an incredibly talented rally driver who gave the Metro its first victory in the 1985 Skip Brown Gwynedd Rally and finished just ahead of an Audi Quattro, the car that inspired the 6R4’s inception.
Mini Cooper S
The British Motor Corporation (BMC) has been using a white roof over a red body for its Austin-Healey rally cars, but it took a while to adopt the livery for the iconic Mini Cooper S rally machines. The first instance of a Cooper S in this colour scheme come from keen competitor Bill Rogers. After loaning his Mini to a friend, it came back damaged and the paint shop offered to respray the roof a different colour to the red body. Rogers asked for white as this would help reflect heat from the cabin.
BMC used the red and white colour scheme from 1962 and also used red with a black roof. The red colour was chosen, according to legend, because cars in that colour were more likely to be waved on by police officers during rallies through European countries.
Opel Manta Heat for Hire
This assured colour scheme was not just closely associated with the Opel Manta 400 but also its driver, Russell Brookes. The double British Rally Champion struck up his relationship with Andrews Heat for Hire in 1974 and it lasted throughout the remainder of Brookes’ impressive career.
Over 17 years, Brookes and his sponsor were a prominent and popular sight on rally stages. During that time, the Opel Manta 400 that Brookes drove with such gusto became an icon for rally fans. His title win in the 1985 British Rally Championship sealed the yellow, red and blue livery in the affections of enthusiasts.
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For a company that made its money in the food and dairy business, Italy's Parmalat had a huge influence on Formula 1 with its blue and white colours. Like so many of the best liveries, it was a simple design that made it stand out. Even so, it was two years after Parmalat had started to sponsor Brabham that its iconic colours appeared in 1980 when Alfa Romeo departed.
The design that emerged in 1980 quickly gained plenty of television coverage as Nelson Piquet used the Gordon Murray-designed BT49 to great effect. With BMW engines arriving in 1982, the colours were adapted on the Brabham’s nose cone to replicate the kidney grille of BMW’s road cars.
Plymouth Roadrunner STP
Success was snatched from the jaws of disaster at the very last moment for Richard Petty (born 1937) and his NASCAR racing team. With no main sponsor as they headed to the first race of the 1972 season, he took a last shot with American oil and fuel additive supplier STP. The gamble paid off and the white, red, and blue STP logo became synonymous with Petty’s race cars.
For STP, the deal was equally beneficial as Petty went straight out and won the first race of the year in his Plymouth Roadrunner. He also went on to win seven more that season and lift the championship title. As a mark of just deep-seated the relationship became, STP changed the liveries of other race cars it sponsored to mirror Petty’s due the success this pairing enjoyed.
Porsche Pink Pig
One of the most unusual and amusing paint schemes ever to adorn a car was born out of a joke. The rumour is Porsche endurance racing sponsor Martini was so horrified by the 1971 917/20’s looks, they refused to allow it to wear their own iconic colours. So, designer Anatole Lapine (1930-2012) was allowed to come up with his own design and he made a visual play on the car being described as a ‘pig’.
Taking the idea from a butcher’s chart of different cuts of meat on a pig, Lapine bisected the 917 with broken lines and named each section of bodywork. Unintentionally, it created one of the most recognisable Porsche liveries ever. As for the car itself, it ran as high as fifth place in the 1971 Le Mans 24 Hours but had to retire due to accident damage.
Subaru Impreza 555
Few paint schemes have jumped from motorsport to roadgoing cars more than Subaru’s World Rally Championship get-up. The dark blue base made it hugely popular with the fans eager to own a slice of the car that made Colin McRae’s name and saw him battle with team-mate Carlos Sainz throughout 1995.
Along with the tobacco firm’s lettering down the side, the other stand-out feature of the livery were the gold wheels. On almost any other car, they would have looked naff, but the Impreza made them look cool in a way no other car has ever since. Even the earlier Legacy RS used for rallying in the same colours doesn’t quite carry it off with the same panache as the more compact Impreza.
With the digital speedo indicating 155mph, Schebsdat is busy explaining the fundamental differences in driving character between the new Golf GTI and its immediate predecessor, launched back in 2013. “It’s very settled at speed. We’ve transferred more load stiffness to the rear, which improves balance and helps it track better,” he says while drawing a finger across the central display to alter the driving mode more in the direction of Sport.
Then, without warning or the faintest hint of a lift, the Volkswagen engineer whips on a quarter turn or so of steering lock. “It’s also extremely responsive and more stable than before,” he adds, as we veer sharply across the neighbouring lanes before he corrects the steering again. The lateral forces involved are truly colossal. But in the second or two they take to bury their way into the pit of my stomach, the prototype we’re in has already regained its composure and we head straight on again as if nothing had happened.
© Autocar First ride: 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI prototype Coming after the standard version of the new Golf, there’s not much about the latest Golf GTI that isn’t familiar. And yet it feels different; more eager and sporting in its actions but with the same degree of refinement and polish as its lesser siblings. In time-honoured fashion, it retains the front-wheel drive layout of its celebrated predecessors, which means it continues to compete directly with very creditable rivals including the Ford Focus ST, Honda Civic Type R and Renault Mégane RS.
Up front, the 2020 model runs the same turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine as its predecessor – the EA888, to use its internal codename. Earlier signs suggested it was set to lift its reserves with 48V mild-hybrid electric boosting, but Volkswagen has decided to continue down the same conventional path as before without the additional power enhancement from the alternator seen in lesser versions of the new Golf.
© Autocar First ride: 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI prototype The result? The standard model now develops the same 242bhp at 4700-6200rpm and 273lb ft between 1600rpm and 4300rpm as the Mk7 GTI’s Performance model, giving it a 15bhp and 15lb ft lift in reserves on the seventh-generation model it replaces.
It’s all channelled through a standard six-speed manual gearbox or, as is the case with the prototype we’re in, an optional seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel. As with the previous incarnation of the Golf GTI, there’s also an electronically controlled limited-slip differential, or XDS as Volkswagen likes to call it. It detects unloading of the inside wheel and uses individual braking application via the electronic stability control system to restore traction.
Volkswagen isn’t giving away much at all on performance just yet but Schebsdat, who has worked on developing such highly lauded cars as the original Ford Focus and the 911 GT3 RS 4.0 during a stint at Porsche Motorsport, suggests the standard Golf GTI is close to the old Golf GTI Performance for outright accelerative ability, with a 0-62mph time of around 6.2sec.
© Autocar First ride: 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI prototype Following the strategy established with the seventh-generation model, Volkswagen plans a two-tier line-up for the latest Golf GTI. Gone is the Performance, which in effect will be supplanted by this new, more potent standard GTI, while the Clubsport, whose moniker was previously reserved for special track-based limited-production models, will replace the Golf GTI TCR. Details have yet to be officially revealed, although the Clubsport is claimed to run the same level of tune to the EA888 engine as the outgoing GTI TCR, which develops 286bhp at 5400rpm and 273lb ft of torque between 1950rpm and 5300rpm.
Today isn’t about drivelines, though. It’s about exploring dynamic qualities. And Volkswagen’s EhraLessien is just the place to show us what the new Golf GTI can do. It has everything: endless straights, where you can run flat out for minutes on end; banked corners, where the centrifugal forces allow the driver to go hands-off above certain speeds; handling roads, featuring every kind of corner, camber and surface you could ever wish for and much more. It is torture for any car, but it also gives valuable insight into on-the-limit behaviour without having to venture out onto public roads.
© Autocar First ride: 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI prototype So just how do you instil the dynamic qualities that have distinguished the Golf GTI since its introduction to the Volkswagen line-up in 1974 into the new model while also ensuring it meets its brief of appealing to a wider customer audience than ever before? “There is a lot of detailed tuning work,” says Schebsdat. “Every component has come under the spotlight. It is a process that was integrated into the development of the new Golf from the very beginning.”
Once again, the starting point was Volkswagen’s versatile MQB platform – a structure renowned for delivering some of the highest levels of stiffness in the class. To this, the new Golf GTI adds an aluminium front subframe in place of the steel unit used previously. Similar to that developed for the earlier limited-production Golf GTI Clubsport S, it not only saves 3kg but also provides a more rigid basis for the electromechanical steering and MacPherson strut front suspension than before.
© Autocar First ride: 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI prototype Predictably, the steering continues with a variable ratio rack as standard, although it is more direct, with an on-centre ratio of 14.1:1 resulting in two turns lock to lock. A new software package has also been developed to improve steering response and deliver more urgent self-centring.
Another key development brought to the latest Golf GTI is Volkswagen’s new VDM (vehicle dynamics manager) system. It provides a centralised network for a series of different functions, including the steering, throttle, gearbox and adaptive dampers – the last of which continue to be made available as an option as part of an upgraded DCC (dynamic chassis control) system that’s claimed to provide faster damper adjustment at each wheel for improved body control, added ride refinement and, as displayed during our high-speed runs, a generally more settled feel to the whole car.
© Autocar First ride: 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI prototype Volkswagen says the VDM system also enhances the operation of the XDS electronic diff lock by providing it with additional information on other systems, including the DCC. “It is now more effective than ever, especially during hard cornering,” says Schebsdat. “The apportioning of drive to each of the front wheels is now more finely controlled and dependent on a greater number of different factors than it was previously.”
As before, there are four driving modes: Comfort, Eco, Sport and Individual. However, they can be set more precisely via a digital slider with extra steps now incorporated between each mode for a broader range of driving characteristics.
The suspension, which adopts the same rear multi-link set-up as the old model, is set 15mm lower than in other versions of the new Golf and is imbued with its own unique kinematic properties. The standard wheels are 17in, although buyers will be able to choose 18in and 19in options. The prototype we’re in runs 18in wheels with 225/40-profile Bridgestone Potenza S005 tyres.
What Volkswagen has set out to achieve with the new Golf GTI is greater cohesiveness, linearity and incisiveness in the way its mechanical components work in combination with its various electronic systems. The aim is to build on the solid basis of the old model with a heightened feeling of precision, composure and stability through a superior networking of each individual function.
“We didn’t want a nervous-feeling car tuned for ultimate performance, but one that instils confidence in the driver in every possible situation,” says Schebsdat. © Provided by Autocar
Over Ehra-Lessien’s more demanding handling roads, you sense the consistency in its actions, the inherent balance of its chassis and its heightened agility. It all starts with the apparent decisiveness with which the new Golf GTI turns in to corners in Sport mode and then continues with the way its electronic differential deftly goes about the business of doling out drive to the front wheels. There is outstanding grip from the tyres, which do a great job of resisting any urge of the front end to run wide prematurely even on bumpy surfaces, allowing the driver to maintain lots of momentum to the apex without the car feeling on edge.
On a particularly demanding section with lots of high-frequency bumps, we enter a tight constant radius corner. Schebsdat keeps the throttle nailed and delicately places the new Golf GTI on the inside white line while maintaining constant steering angle. All the while, I keep expecting the impressive purchase that was evident on entry to weaken. However, it sticks to its guns. There is no scrub or even a hint of understeer, despite a heady combination of lateral and vertical forces loaded through the suspension.
At the next corner, a long, opening left-hander, Schebsdat carries even greater speed before suddenly lifting the throttle and then mashing it against its back stop again. It’s remarkable just how stable the rear end remains. Even with provocation, the prototype continues to track with great determination.
Gallery: Power league: The 1000 horsepower club (Auto Car)
The idea of a road car with 1000 horsepower seemed faintly ridiculous not long ago, but now there’s a growing number of members in this exclusive club.
Many far exceed that entry requirement and plenty have help from electric motors, pointing to the direction hypercars are taking.
Here’s our list of those that make the grade in ascending order of power output - we also state the year the first car became available:
Lucid Air - 1000bhp (2018)
The Lucid Air might only just scrape into the 1000bhp club, but it does it with no tailpipe emissions due to its lithium-ion batteries and twin electric motors. This is the version to have to keep company with other 1000bhp+ cars, though Lucid does offer a mere 400bhp model. Choose the more potent version and it sees off 0-62mph in 2.5 seconds and tops out at a restricted 217mph.
Impressive stuff for a four-door saloon aimed at the luxury end of the market. Just as relevantly, the Air can manage up to 400 miles between recharging halts and rapid charging means you can be ready to go in 30 minutes. And Lucid Air wants more than just hypercar customers to own the Air, so the price for the entry model is $52,500 (£43,000) in the USA, though you'll only get 400 horses for that. The company is based in California-based, and recently received a $1 billion investment from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund.
SVE Stage II Yenko/SC Corvette - 1000bhp (2018)
Speciality Vehicle Engineering has a background in drag racing in the USA, so building a 1000bhp Corvette is well within its usual sphere of work. The Stage II Yenko/SC uses a much modified 6.8-litre Chevrolet engine with a supercharger added to gain that magic four digit power figure.
It works through a seven-speed manual gearbox as standard, with a ticket price of $68,995 (£53,000) over and above the cost of buying a Corvette. That makes this possibly the best value 1000bhp car on offer today.
The Yenko Corvette also has uprated brakes and suspension to cope with the power, but if that sounds like too much to handle the company also makes one with 835bhp. Or you can have a Camaro with the same choice of engines.
Cadillac CTS-V HPE1000 - 1000bhp (2018)
The power-crazed folk at Hennessey don’t just limit themselves to bespoke hypercars: they’ll build you a 1000bhp Cadillac CTS-V called the HPE1000.
This four-door luxury saloon offers 0-60mph in 2.7 seconds and 200mph top speed. All of this is thanks to the hand-assembled 6.2-litre V8 and supercharger, and it comes with a two-year, 24,000-mile warranty.
The Cadillac CTS-V HPE1000 retains the Cadillac’s automatic gearbox, suitably upgraded to cope with the power, and it’s rear-wheel drive. As a four-seater, the Hennessey’s power and performance make it an unusual choice if you can afford the $159,000 (£122,000) entry price.
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Zenvo TS1 GT - 1104bhp (2017)
The Zenvo name may not be familiar to many, but its TS1 GT commands attention thanks to its many large numbers. They start with the 1104bhp from the twin-supercharged 5.8-litre V8 engine, which is generated at 7100rpm. There’s also 840lb ft of torque to hand to help see the Zenvo to 233mph and 0-60mph in 3.0 seconds.
Then there’s the £1.2 million ($1.56 million) asking price for a car made in Denmark that very few people have ever heard of. This might explain the much smaller number intended for production with a total of 15 TS1 GTs planned at a rate of five per year.
Aston Martin Valkyrie - 1160bhp (2019)
It didn’t take Aston Martin long to shift all 150 road-going Valkyrie cars as customers clamoured for the V12-engined hypercar. With 1160bhp, it’s easily the most powerful car the company has ever produced and the quickest too. Aston says the car can lap the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in the same time as a current Formula 1 car thanks to its huge amounts of downforce that allow for high cornering speeds.
The 6.5-litre V12 petrol engine is sufficient to see the Valkyrie into the 1000bhp club, while the electric motor adds 160bhp to the mix. To build these engines, Aston sought help from Cosworth for the V12 and Rimac for the electric motor, and combined they offer more than 1bhp per kilogramme thanks to the car’s 1030kg (2266 lb) weight.
Bugatti Veyron Super Sport - 1184bhp (2010)
The Veyron may have been usurped by the Chiron now, but Bugatti’s original hypercar remains the most recognisable and the Super Sport was its ultimate incarnation. Its 1184bhp was some 198bhp more than the standard Veyron’s and pushed top speed up to 268mph while lowering the 0-62mph sprint to 2.5 seconds.
Only 25 Super Sports were made at a price of £2 million (US$3 million). If the price seems steep, it’s worth considering the engine could drain its 100-litre tank in less than eight minutes if driven flat out.
Mercedes-AMG Project One - 1231bhp (2020)
The idea of a Formula 1 car for the road has never really been realised, but Mercedes-AMG gets closer than most with its Project One. Using an F1-derived hybrid power set-up, the Project One comes with a 1.6-litre V6 petrol engine and four electric motors to deliver up to 1231bhp.
Electricity isn’t just for the quadruple motors either as the Project One V6’s turbocharger is electrically powered to get the most from every drop of fuel. As a result, we're promised that this Mercedes will cover 0-62mph in less than 2.5 seconds and won’t stop till 217mph is registering on the speedo.
SSC Ultimate Aero XT - 1300bhp (2013)
The SSC Aero kickstarted this Corvette-powered hypercar line with 782bhp and the Ultimate Aero finished it with 1300bhp. Twin turbochargers helped the XT almost double the starting horsepower of the car and saw top speed reach 256mph, though wind tunnel testing suggested it could manage 273mph in favourable conditions.
The XT was the only Ultimate Aero to use a 6.9-litre Chevrolet V8 motor and during testing for its top speed runs it was reported to generate wheelspin at 190mph. With that sort of power on demand, it may explain why only five of the $740,000 (£568,000) XTs found buyers.
NextEV NIO EP9 - 1360bhp (2016)
The NextEV NIO EP9 has recorded a 6min 45.9sec lap of the Nürburgring Norschleife, putting it just half a second behind a Lamborghini Aventador LP770-4 SVJ on very sticky tyres. So, the EP9 is the quickest EV so far around this track and very quick in corners as well as in the straight line.
It does help when you have 1340bhp, or 1-megawatt, on call from the NextEV’s four electric motors. Just as vitally, the EP9 comes with active suspension and aerodynamics that generate 2.5-tonnes of downforce at 150mph to come close to matching a Formula 1 car’s. All of this will set you back US$1.2 million (£920,000) and six have been sold so far.
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Bugatti Chiron - 1479bhp (2017)
Few doubted the Chiron would trump the Veyron when Bugatti launched the new model, but a leap of 296bhp to come up with 1479bhp was still a surprise. That’s a lot of power for £2.5 million (US$3.3 million) and it can hit 261mph, though this is electronically limited due to the tyres not being able to cope with any more.
While that top speed is attention-grabbing, it’s what else the quad-turbo 8.0-litre W16 Chiron does with its huge power that entertains. Nought to 60mph in 2.4 seconds isn’t as quick as some, but the Bugatti just keeps forcing its way forward with no let up before it bumps into that limiter at 261mph like a bull annoyed at being held back by a gate. It’s a stark demonstration of just how powerful the Chiron is.
Koenigsegg Regera - 1500bhp (2016)
Koenigsegg is unapologetic about not chasing ever larger numbers from its turbocharged 5.0-litre V8 motor. It reckons that’s plenty and instead sought better throttle response with smaller turbos. This is possible thanks to the engine making 1100bhp on its own and any lag from the turbos is filled in by the 700bhp electric motor, giving a combined 1500bhp.
So, the Regera is a hybrid hypercar that has a 255mph top speed reined in by an electronic limiter. It can also cover 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds and sprint from rest to 186mph in 10.9 seconds. All of this is managed without a traditional gearbox as the Regera uses the Swedish firm’s Direct Drive transmission that helps to keep weight down to 1590kg (3498 lb) compared to the heft of a Bugatti Chiron, at 1995kg (4389 lb).
Weineck Cobra - 1600bhp (2016)
There are Cobra replicas and then there’s 1600bhp street legal Weineck Cobra. About the only thing this open-top two-seater has in common with the 1960s original is the basic shape, and even then, the Weineck sports a massive bonnet scoop to feed air to the 16.0-litre V8.
Yes, that’s right, the Weineck can be had with engines of up to 16.0-litres, which is enough to catapult it from rest to 0-186mph in less than 10 seconds with no assistance from turbo or supercharging. Each motor is hand-built at a factory at Bad Gandersheim in Germany and can rev to 9500rpm. All of this explains the €545,000 (US$613,000/£467,000) price tag for this roadgoing drag machine.
Hennessey Venom F5 - 1600bhp (2019)
Hennessey describes the Venom F5 as ‘America’s Hypercar’. That’s about as fair a description as you can get before the numbers begin to boggle your brains.
It’s easily done when you consider this sleek looking machine packs a twin-turbo 7.6-litre V8 with 1600bhp. This is enough for a claimed 0-60mph in less than 3.0 seconds, 0-186mph in under 10 seconds and from rest to 249mph needing less than half a minute of your time.
Another consequence of the Hennessey’s huge power output is a top speed quote at 301mph, though this is yet to be proven. Only 24 Venom F5s are planned for production and each will cost US$1.6 million (£1.23 million), which makes the Venom look like keen value next to a Bugatti Chiron.
Rimac C_Two - 1914bhp (2019)
Rimac has already made its mark with the Concept One electric hypercar. Each of the eight built cost US$1 million and that bought you a battery-powered car capable of 0-62mph in 2.5 seconds courtesy of its 1224bhp. But that’s not nearly enough for this Croatian firm, so it’s come up with the C_Two with 1914bhp from its two front and two rear motors.
The company is planning to build 150 C_Two models, each costing £1.5 million. For this, you get a zero emissions car able to dash off 0-62mph in 1.85 seconds and carry on to 258mph thanks to new liquid-cooling for the battery packs. Fully charged, they offer a range of 341 miles as tested under WLTP conditions.
Pininfarina Battista - 1900bhp (2020)
Unveiled at the 2019 Geneva motor show, the Battista is the Italian design house's first original piece. Taking technical cues from the brainboxes over at Rimac, this electric hypercar is set to be the most powerful production car ever to come out of Italy and will crack 0-60mph in under 2 seconds. We can't wait.
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Body control is another real strength at the sporting end of the new Volkswagen’s various driving modes. There is a degree of lean in slower corners, but the improved action of the adaptive dampers ensures it builds in a more progressive way than before, especially from the initial point of unsettling. Indeed, overall composure is one of the key attributes of the Golf GTI’s handling, and that can also be said of its ride.
There is a predictable firmness to the underpinnings but there’s no real abruptness, even on the optional tyres. Vertical movement is exceptionally well controlled, giving it impressive settled properties in Comfort mode. Its ability to dampen aftershake over large bumps is also worthy of note.
On that note, my time in the passenger seat of the new Golf GTI is over. It may not be the most powerful or fastest car in its class, but the new, eighth-generation model is a big advance on its predecessor. It feels wonderfully agile and responsive in the best of GTI traditions but also assuredly stable and composed when pushed to its limits. It’s going to be a few more months until we get to jump behind the steering wheel ourselves, but we already know there’s a great hot hatch here.
Volkswagen Golf GTI prototype specification
Where Germany Price £29,900 On sale Autumn Engine 4 cyls, 1984cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 242bhp at 4700-6200rpm Torque 273lb ft at 1600-4300rpm Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic Kerb weight 1370kg (estimated) Top speed 155mph 0-62mph 6.2sec (estimated) Fuel economy tbc CO2 tbc Rivals Ford Focus ST, Honda Civic Type R, Renault Mégane RS