The first ten years of the 21st century brought us some fantastic supercars. Here are ten of the best
While the 1990s gave us the immortal Mclaren F1, game changing Honda NSX and some excellent Italian machinery the first decade of the new century offered a booming market, bringing enthusiasts even more choice in the supercar arena.
Established manufacturers like Ferrari and Porsche brought their A game, launching some of their most powerful road cars ever, while new players Koenigsegg and Pagani introduced their own designs that threatened to upset the accepted supercar hierarchy. Bugatti, Maserati and Ford also released their best efforts in decades while Nissan and Audi changed forever what entry level supercar performance meant.
This was also the last decade to focus solely on power and performance at the expense of all else. The current crop of hybrid hyper cars are a technological tour-de-force but aside from a few outliers the first ten years of the 21st century are where you will find the best blend of high tech and old school bruiser. Our list includes a mix of cars that redefined the genre, from manual gearboxes, rear wheel drive and big V8s to forced induction and paddle shifters, this was the transitional generation.
Take a look at our list and let us know which your favourites were in our comments section below:
The Veyron was a car that promised such amazing power and performance figures that you would have been forgiven for thinking a 6 year old had been let loose in VW’s PR department. Just when the continued delays suggested that this might well have been the case, it arrived with its ludicrous four turbochargers, 8 litre capacity and 16 cylinders, rewriting the record books in the process. With just shy of 1000bhp, and a top speed in excess of 250mph – bettered in 2010 by the even more powerful SS – it has taken over ten years to find a suitable challenger. Predictably it has come from Bugatti themselves in the shape of the recently launched Chiron.
America’s oldest automobile manufacturer knows a thing or two about performance cars, so when it resurrected the legendary GT name (minus the 40 due to legal issues) everyone knew that it would be for something very special. The Ford GT that was released in 2005 combined Ferrari beating performance, good looks and amazing value in much the same way its predecessor had way back in the 60s. GTs nowadays have spiked in value, showing that the age old recipe of big V8 and manual gearbox have not lost their appeal.
Fears that Audi would dilute the next generation of V12 Lamborghinis were firmly laid to rest when the 572bhp Murcielago arrived on the scene in 2001. Jet fighter looks, active air intakes and scissor doors were all pure Lambo, as was the naturally aspirated V12’s towering performance. All that the Germans had done was to add reliability, and make sure the air-con and electrical systems actually worked. A number of limited editions were made available, most notably the stealth fighter inspired Reventon. The last of the line LP 670-4 SV with its 661bhp 6.5-litre V12 and massive rear wing was a fitting swansong for this manic old school super car.
Hearing the Carrera GT’s naturally aspirated 5.7-litre 612bhp V10 revving to its 8400rpm redline is something that gets etched into your mind when you hear it. The mid-engined configuration, lack of traction control systems and manual gearbox ensure that the driving experience is just as memorable. Gaining a reputation for being tricky to drive – in a world where every aspect of the driving experience is electronically controlled – the analogue Carrera GT is a revelation, but requires skill and experience to extract its best.
The partnership that existed between Mercedes and McLaren may be no more, but the thundering Mercedes McLaren SLR that was the result will forever be a testament to their efforts. McLaren’s obsession with lightness and efficiency allied to Mercedes’ focus on brute power and luxury may seem at odds with one another, but the SLR proved to be a very accomplished super GT, combining each company’s core attributes into a 622bhp gullwinged continent crusher, that still turns heads today. Look for a limited edition Stirling Moss 722 for added exclusivity.
The problem with a timeless design is that finding a worthy replacement is a very tough proposition. While the V8-engined Vantage proved very popular initially, many people were crying out for a more powerful version of the sporting Aston. What better way to extract that power than by shoehorning the company’s silky smooth 510bhp V12 in, and offering it with a manual transmission? This unlikely combination resulted in the V12 Vantage, a car that has become a sought after classic and has made the job of replacing it even harder. Special editions continue to this day...
The Enzo was Ferrari’s tribute to its founder, and it carried on the tradition of previous F cars in offering class-leading performance while showcasing the best technology that Ferrari had to offer at the time. The 6.0-litre naturally aspirated engine produced 651bhp, making the Enzo the most powerful and fastest Ferrari road car ever. 400 units were built with a further 38 FXX track only prototypes being made available to existing Enzo owners.
Slowly recovering from an ignominious period in the 1980s, the once revered Maserati brand returned to form with the track biased MC12. The basic recipe of a slightly detuned (630bhp) Enzo derived engine and heavier body shell may not have seemed like a winning recipe, but the sublime chassis and long wheelbase made for a supercar that threatened to outperform its Maranello cousin around the track. A tiny production run of around 50 units ensures its exclusivity.
Being the third vehicle to be produced by the Koenigsegg automobile company, the CCX featured a twin-supercharged 4.7-litre V8, with mind-blowing performance descending on the established supercar field like a meteor. Capable of over 240mph, and with looks to match its speed, the CCX has become one of the few new entrants into this sector that has actaully stood the test of time. The ultimate CCX is the limited edition 1018bhp CCXR, a true fire breathing hypercar. With very limited production numbers and such cutting edge performance these cars are surely destined to become future classics.
Another fledgling super car company. Pagani’s Zonda may have arrived just before the turn of the century but it makes our list because the bulk of its production run spanned the following decade. Horatio Pagani made the most of his link to Mercedes and used a variety of AMG V12s to power his creations. Starting off with the 6.0L 389bhp C12 in 1999 the big numbers started arriving with the bigger 540bhp 7.0 and 7.3L S models. Pagani is a big fan of special editions, and the company is known for churning out a number of very limited production run Zondas, from roadsters to racers and one off customer cars, all offering spaceship looks allied with devastating performance.
Super cars, but not quite supercars...
Audi R8 (2006-2015)
The Audi R8 arrived onto the sportscar scene in 2006, and introduced a level of usability, value into the sector that had never been seen before. The combination of a four wheel drive system that could power slide on demand and a high revving naturally aspirated mid-mounted V8 were big departures from the usual fast Audi formula. This new entry level supercar was dynamically up there with the class leaders, and with the constant updates and addition of a 5.2-litre V10 and excellent DSG gearbox, it continued to offer supercar slaying performance at a fraction of the cost for the duration of its production run.
Nissan GT-R (2007-on)
While not technically a supercar, with its relatively upright body work and saloon car heritage, the Nissan GT-R meets the requirements in just about every other measurable way. Its immense accelerative abilities, especially off the line, and huge tuning potential have made the GT-R a favourite amongst the modding community. Even standard cars thanks to a decade of incremental development have gone from 478bhp to over 550bhp, allowing them to harass supercars costing many times their price.
Words: John Tallodi // Images: evo Magazine