Top Ten Powerful Cars of 2015

Top Ten Powerful Cars of 2015

Specific output, power density, or, in its simplest representation, horsepower produced per liter of displacement, is a largely trivial metric by its lonesome. Unless you’re in charge of a racing team faced with engine-size restrictions, and then hp/liter would be pretty important. You could get a better picture of an engine’s overall efficiency and cost if specific output were tag-teamed with other yardsticks such as brake-specific fuel consumption, brake mean effective pressure, recorded cylinder pressure, and volumetric efficiency across the power-band. But ranking cars not destined to spend their lives on racetracks by hp/liter is meaningless. So why do it at all? Because numerical order has its appeal, too.

The qualifications list is short. The cars must have be federalized for sale in the U.S. within the 2015 model year. We also have to know the stock horsepower and liter ratings, and, most critically, we must be able to divide.

porsche_911_carreraPORSCHE 911 CARRERA
Engine: 3.4L/350-hp/287-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve flat-six

Peak power engine speed: 7,400 rpm

Being able to spin the hell out of the crankshaft without fear of anything tearing asunder is a guaranteed way to earn a spot here. With 350 hp available at a singing 7,400 rpm, the 911 Carrera and its associated variants (Targa, Cabriolet, etc.) ties for the lowest peak power engine speed of the list.

ferrari_ffFERRARI FF
Specific output: 103.5 hp/liter

Engine: 6.3L/652-hp/504-lb-ft DOHC 48-valve V-12

Peak power engine speed: 8,000 rpm

The family Ferrari has room for more than your typical Ferrari: spouse, two kids, luggage, backseat entertainment system for said kids, and all-wheel drive (first through fourth gears only). There’s also a quite large V-12 underneath the hood.

audi_r8_v10_plusAUDI R8 V10 PLUS
Specific output: 105.8 hp/liter

Engine: 5.2L/550-hp/398-lb-ft DOHC 40-valve V-10

Peak power engine speed: 8,000 rpm
V-10s have helped create some of the more iconic exhaust noises in history despite their relative rarity. Merely four cars of the 2015 vintage pack V-10s — technically, one is the convertible version of another and two are on this list.

lamborghini aventador jackie
lamborghini aventador jackie

LAMBORGHINI AVENTADOR
Specific output: 106.3 hp/liter

Engine: 6.5L/691-hp/509-lb-ft DOHC 48-valve V-12

Peak power engine speed: 8,250 rpm
The angry-sounding 6.5-liter V-12 mounted in the middle of the Aventador is worlds different from the V-12s motivating the Rolls-Royce Wraith and Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG. The Lambo outwardly looks much angrier than those two grand tourers, as well.

AUDI RS 5AUDI RS 5
Specific output: 107.1 hp/liter

Engine: 4.2L/450-hp/316-lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8

Peak power engine speed: 8,250 rpm
Audi protects the RS 5 from the standard R8 by way of 20 more horsepower. The net result is the RS 5 coupe and cabriolet make the list’s cut, whereas the V-8-powered R8 at 102.4 hp/liter misses it.

PORSCHE 911 CARRERA S PORSCHE 911 CARRERA S WITH POWERKIT
Specific output: 113.2 hp/liter

Engine: 3.8L/430-hp/325-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve flat-six

Peak power engine speed: 7,500 rpm
The 911 Carrera S tricks its way onto the list again thanks to the $17,800 Powerkit. For the cost of a fully loaded Mitsubishi Mirage ES, Porsche will tweak the 3.8-liter engine’s intake camshafts and cylinder heads, fit a new intake manifold, and shift the power peak 100 rpm higher.

LAMBORGHINI HURACANLAMBORGHINI HURACAN
Specific output: 115.8 hp/liter

Engine: 5.2L/602-hp/413-lb-ft DOHC 40-valve V-10

Peak power engine speed: 8,250 rpm
At 8,250 rpm, the Huracan’s V-10 endures a peak piston speed of 114.2 mph. In contrast, the Veneno sees “only” 95.7 mph at its 8,400-rpm power peak. Suffice to say, both engines would look frantic were they cut open while running.

FERRARI F12FERRARI F12
Specific output: 116.0 hp/liter

Engine: 6.3L/731-hp/508-lb-ft DOHC 48-valve V-12

Peak power engine speed: 8,250 rpm
The powerful front-engine F12 mows down the 0-60-mph run in 3.6 seconds, which, amazingly, doesn’t sound all that quick nowadays, although its classic Ferrari long hood should be more than enough enticement to take it out for a spin.

PORSCHE 911 GT3PORSCHE 911 GT3
Specific output: 125.0 hp/liter

Engine: 3.8L/475-hp/324-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve flat-6

Peak power engine speed: 8,250 rpm
We were smitten with the 996 GT3 when it had a then-drool-worthy 381 hp. The latest iteration induces a similar reaction. Although all naturally aspirated 911s make you feel like you’re at Le Mans when they’re operated in anger, there’s something about the GT3 that just feels so right.

BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT3-RBENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT3-R
Specific output: 143.0 hp/liter (148.0 with 15-second turbo overboost)

Engine: 4.0L/572-hp*/518-lb-ft* twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8

Peak power engine speed: 6,000 rpm
The house that W.O. built updates its bread-and-butter Continental with ruthless efficacy, so of course there’d eventually be one with the back seat missing. The two-person GT3-R is not the most powerful Conti on offer — that’d be the 626-hp GT Speed — but it does boast the brand’s highest specific output.