Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

The wildest new sports cars for 2019

Lamborghini Aventador SVJIn a world where pickups now cost more than $100,000, sports cars have to make a big splash to garner ink. Luckily, horsepower supplies are at a global high, and exotic materials like hicostium and unobtanium can be expertly woven in the latest generation of wild sports cars.

Testing at the famed Nürburgring continues night and day as firms like Mercedes-AMG, Porsche, and Lamborghini fight it out for the title of fastest production car. Limited editions from Audi and Hennessey have collectors drooling, and enthusiasts wait with bated breath for the latest releases from Saleen and Toyota.

These are the wildest new sports and super sports cars for 2019, plus a few surprises.

Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S

Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S

Starting MSRP: $167,700

AMG’s 630-horsepower sports car set a Nürburgring lap record of 7:25:41, the thinnest of hairs faster than a Ferrari Enzo, but still faster. Even more embarrassing for Maranello, the GT 63 S used wasn’t a traditional mid-engined supercar, but rather a series production  front-engined four-door.

The 4.0-liter V8 under the hood sports twin turbos and makes a roaring 664 lb-ft of torque. The power is sent to a permanently driven rear axle with a limited-slip differential, while an electro-mechanically controlled clutch variably drives the front depending on driver input and surface conditions. There’s even a drift mode in case your speed needs no translation.

The nine-speed transmission uses a wet clutch to reduce inertia for optimized response. Lightning-fast paddle shifters complete the experience, complete with the capability of machine gun downshifts.

Need to get away in a hurry? A “race start” function ensures the GT finds its maximum acceleration possible: zero-60 in just 3.1 seconds, and all the way up to a top speed of 195 mph.

In a four-door.

McLaren 600LT

2019 McLaren 600LT

Starting MSRP: $240,000

There is no greater suffix in the world for McLaren fans than LT. The super-sportscar “Longtail” series has had three entries before: the racing F1, derived from the Le Mans-winning F1 GTR; the 675LT, the first Longtail made for public roads and available as either a coupe or spider.

The 600LT is the first Longtail in McLaren’s entry-level Sports Series. The lightweight coupe weighs in at just 2,749 pounds and is propelled by a 600-horsepower, 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8. Zero-60 is annihilated in just 2.8 seconds and top speed is 204 mph. Even cooler are the top-exiting twin exhausts above the engine bay.

Derived from a 570S, the 600LT is 221 pounds lighter and features new aerodynamic bodywork. The front splitter, side sills, extended diffuser, and rear wing adds 221 pounds of downforce at 155 mph.

Double wishbones up front are forged for greater strength and lower the ride height by 0.3 inches for increased dynamic performance. Carbon ceramic disc brakes are lovingly calibrated for feel and will yank the 600LT from 124 mph to a dead stop in just 384 feet.

Even the tires are unique. McLaren worked with Pirelli to develop tires that make the most of the additional downforce. Grip exceeds even that of the 675LT.

Production began in October 2018 and will continue for 12 months. Volume will be tightly limited.

Ferrari Monza SP1

Ferrari Monza SP1

Starting MSRP: $1,750,000 (est.)

In all of autodom, there are few things prettier than a 12-cylinder Ferrari barchetta. The SP1 single-seater (and its SP2 two-seat sibling) are inspired by iconic models like the 166 MM, 750 Monza, and 860 Monza that delivered Ferrari numerous victories in the World Sports Car Championship in the 1950s.

The 6.5-liter V12 engine is the most powerful ever built by Maranello: 799 horsepower and 519 lb-ft. The zero-62 mph (zero-100 kph) sprint takes just 2.9 seconds. 124 mph (200kph) comes up in 7.9 seconds, and top speed is mores than 186 mph (300 kph).

The body is constructed entirely of carbon fiber to keep the weight down. The SP1 weighs in at 3,300 pounds, the extra seating of the SP2 adds 50 pounds more.

Being a barchetta—sans windshield—the Monza collects air through the hood and rams it into into a small chamber, pressurizing it. The stream exits through a slit ahead of the binnacle and deflects wind and road debris. The higher the speed, the better the effect.

Being a collector’s car designed to evoke the thrill of historic racing, the Monza comes with   racing overalls, jersey, helmet, gloves, scarf and driving shoes designed by luxury brands Loro Piana and Berluti.

Porsche 911 GT2 RS

Porsche 911 GT2 RS

Starting MSRP: $293,200

The fastest and most powerful production Porsche ever made, the 911 GT2 RS proved its point this past October by completing a lap of the 12.8-mile Nürburgring-Nordschleife in just 6:47.3 minutes, setting a record for the lowest time of any road-legal vehicle. (A tuned—but still road-lega—911 GT2 RS MR has since gone even quicker, with a new record time of 6:40.3 minutes.)

The fire-breathing 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 makes 700 horsepower and twist out 553 lb-ft of torque. All that zazz is sent to the rear wheels via a PDK seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The paddles are wildly rewarding in this track-focused monster and banish all memories of a manual. Shifts are accomplished in milliseconds and will rocket the GT2 RS to 60 in just 2.6 seconds and on up to a top speed of 211 mph. On the track, Porsche specifies.

MacPherson struts up front with helper springs are paired with wheels independently suspended on wishbones and trailing arms. Multi-link out back also benefits from helper springs and a subframe.

Track, camber, height, and stabilizers are all fully adjustable for maximum lap times. Chassis rigidity is improved by using ball joints instead of chassis joints, ensuring maximum efficiency from the suspension.

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera

Starting MSRP: $305,000 (ca.)

The latest Aston Martin is bathed in history. Its engine is up front, exactly where it’s supposed to be. It makes speed by shedding weight and using vast amounts of power, the classic recipe for collecting loving cups. It certainly looks the part of a GT with its long sculpted hood and muscular flanks, sheathed in lightweight carbon fiber.

Under the hood is no Edwardian steam plant, though. 715 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque are bellowed out through a 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12. Yes, twelve glorious British cylinders, exactly like the Spitfire. The engine is positioned as low and as far back as possible to improve handling. Power is sent to the rear wheels—again, tradition—through an eight-speed rear-mounted automatic transmission.

Handling is enhanced with torque vectoring and a mechanical limited-slip differential. With traction ensured, the car explodes through the gears and will hit 100 mph in a mere 6.4 seconds, with a maximum speed of 211.

The chassis is constructed of lightweight bonded aluminum. Forged double wishbones handle duties up front while a multi-link takes care of the rear. Adaptive damping uses sensors to detect conditions and driver demands, in concert with a dynamic driving mode select that adjusts powertrain response.

The DBS Superleggera is replacing the Vanquish S.

Saleen S1

Saleen S1

Starting MSRP: $100,000

The lithe and lightweight Saleen S1 seems at first like a radical departure from the company’s other nearly atomic offerings. It’s predecessor, the Le Mans-conquering S7, sprouted wings and vents from every surface and breathed fire from its 7.0-liter twin-turbo V8.

The new S1, by comparison, has just four turbocharged cylinders displacing a scant 2.5 liters, though it does make a stonking 450 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is standard, with the option of a paddle-shifted automatic.

An aluminum tub chassis and carbon fiber body keep the weight down to a svelte 2,685 pounds. Combined with the big power, the zero-60 run takes just 3.5 seconds, the quarter mile zips by 11.3, and top speed is 180.

Rather than the obvious aero add-ons of its older sibling, the S1 uses body contours to master downforce and eliminate high-speed lift. The result saves weight, looks elegant, and simplifies manufacturing.

In the cockpit, the story is much the same. It’s almost minimalist, with clean surfaces and few buttons or dials to distract from the task at hand.

Steve Saleen said of his creation, “We’re really charting a new breed of car here.” The S1 is set to take Saleen onto the world stage. The first deliveries are expected this fall.

2018 Audi R8 Competition

2018 Audi R8 V10 Competition

Starting MSRP: $237,350

Audi’s mid-engined track ninja is rare enough, but this November, ten examples will be offered in the U.S. that have literally all of the available Audi Sport performance parts pre-installed. Beginning with a 2018 Audi R8 V10 plus Coupe, the Competition package adds an aggressive aero kit, sheds weight, and adds downforce.

Full carbon is used for the front spoiler, side sills, rear wing, and diffuser. Downforce is doubled at ~90 mph compared to the standard model, and increased 220 pounds to a total of 551 pounds at the top speed of 196 mph. On the track of course. This is a German car, after all.

Twenty-six pounds are dropped by using 20-inch milled-cut wheels over the regular units, and an additional two pounds is lost by using titanium for the backing plates on the performance-upgraded brake pads.

Then there’s the good stuff already installed. The 5.2-liter engine uses twin turbos to generate 610 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque, then delivers it through a seven-speed paddle-shift transmission to all four wheels. The majority of torque is sent rearward, but up to 100 percent can be sent to the front using a electronically controlled hydraulic multi-plate clutch when needed.

Hennessey Venom F5

Hennessey Venom F5

Starting MSRP: $1,600,000

The spec sheet of the the Hennessey Venom F5 reads like science fiction. Its 7.6-liter V8 puts out 1,622 horsepower (1,600 bhp). Torque is 1,300 lb-ft. Zero-60 times aren’t bothered with, because 186 mph (300 kph) comes up under ten seconds and top speed is north of 300 mph.

To achieve such stratospheric numbers, twin turbos use billet compressor wheels and shove 24 pounds of boost into a billet aluminum block with steel cylinder sleeves. Power is put down through a single-clutch seven-speed paddle shift automatic to the rear wheels (probably the same transmission used in the space shuttle). Total weight is a scant 2,950 pounds, so there’s very little mass for all that thrust to thrust.

Rather than a giant engine shoved into an existing model, the Venom F5 was designed and built from the ground up to be the fastest street car on earth. The carbon fiber body uses active aero to achieve a low 0.33 coefficient of drag, about the same as a greased snake.

Total production will by 24 cars, and there have already been 15 confirmed orders.

Toyota Supra

Toyota GR Supra Racing Concept

Starting MSRP: TBD

In their own words, Toyota confirmed “one of the worst-kept secrets in the auto industry” on October 30: the 2020 Supra will debut at January’s 2019 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

Will it look like the GR Supra Racing concept unveiled in March of this year? Probably quite a bit. We could not be more excited.

Toyota then teased a camouflaged pre-production Supra at Goodwood, and promised crowds a rear-wheel drive straight-six.

In September, the company invited journalists to Mardier to drive a prototype, and they were thrilled with the 50/50 weight distribution and chassis (shared with the BMW Z4).

As for power, two engine choices are credible, both from BMW: a turbocharged 3.0-liter six making 335 horsepower, and a turbo 2.0-liter four making 262. Neither unit will likely see a manual transmission.

What we do know for certain is that Toyota will auction off the first production Supra with all proceeds going to charity, and that production will begin in the first half of 2019. The new car will initially be built alongside the Z4 at the Magna Steyr plant in Graz, Austria.

Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

Starting MSRP: $119,995

The mid-engined Corvette may be on its way, but the traditional GT isn’t going out without a fight. Or a war. Or perhaps even Armageddon itself.

This is the 2019 Corvette ZR1, the fastest and most powerful production Chevy on earth, with a top speed of 212 mph. The 6.2-liter V8 at the prow is fed by both primary direct and supplemental port injection, presumably because without two sources of fuel the insatiable maw of a supercharger would starve to death. With 755 horsepower and 715 lb-ft of torque on tap, we would happily shove giant pandas into it if that’s what it required.

It does like air. Engineers designed the front fascia to allow 40 percent more flow to the engine and drivetrain and added four new radiators, upping the total number of heat exchangers to 13. The hood is actually open in the middle to allow room for the supercharger/intercooler assembly.

Power is laid down to the rear wheels through a seven-speed manual gearbox with active rev matching or an eight-speed paddle-shaft automatic. Should stopping be required, carbon ceramic rotors the size of trash can lids with six pistons up front and four in the rear yank everything to a tidy halt.

Still not enough?

The ZTK Track Performance Package adds specific chassis and Magnetic Ride Control tuning for greater cornering grip, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 summer-only tires to make sure it sticks, and a front splitter with carbon-fiber end caps. Two rear wings are offered, one aimed at top speed and one for maximum downforce, even more air can be shoved down the intake for added performance, competition seats can be installed, and there’s even a data recorder.

Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

Starting MSRP: $517,770

Lamborghini’s flagship Aventador reaches the pinnacle of its evolution in the new SVJ. The latest iteration focuses on aerodynamic performance and lightweight materials to reach handling Nirvana.

A new, wider bumper with integrated fins up front works in concert with a disconnected front splitter to direct airflow, improving both drag and downforce. The rear wing uses a new airfoil design to optimize efficiency. Side intakes increase cooling, while improved underbody aero with vortex generators in conjunction with an extreme-design diffuser contributes 30 percent to the total downforce improvement.

Active aero systems first seen on the Huracán Performante have been enhanced for the Aventador SVJ. Electronically-controlled flaps steer airflow to achieve high downforce or low drag, depending on dynamic conditions.

The V12 sitting amidships is naturally aspirated and howls out 770 horsepower through all four wheels. Torque is up to 531 lb-ft, and total weight reduced to 3,362 pounds. From a standstill, the SVJ will hit 62 mph in 2.8 seconds and 124 mph in 8.6. Top speed is over 218 mph.

All of this goodness was unleashed on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife in July, 2018. The SVJ set a time of 6:44.97 and stole the title of “fastest production car” away from the Porsche GT2 RS, which had set its record in September of the preceding year (and took the title back in October of this year).

Just 900 examples will be produced, with 63 being special “SVJ 63” editions to showcase the firm’s mastery of carbon fiber (shown above).

Tesla Roadster

Tesla Roadster

Starting MSRP: $200,000

The latest from Tesla is a reboot of the Roadster, scheduled for release in 2020. Yes, we know that’s not 2019.

It’s electric, of course, and uses a 200 kWh battery pack and three motors (one in the front and two in the rear) to launch its ludicrous self to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds. 100 mph comes up 4.2 seconds, and the quarter mile is dispatched in 8.8. Top speed is over 250 mph.

Range is over 600 miles, but that’s probably not of interest rightf now.

The all-wheel drive super-sportscar is said to have 10,000 nm/7,376 lb-ft of torque at the wheels. Unlike internal combustion engines, electric motors develop full torque at zero speed, a massive advantage, and torque numbers over ten times the horsepower rating are not unheard of.

For comparison, torque at the wheels of a monstrous 840-horsepower Dodge is anecdotally reported at 676 lb-ft, which might not be an scientifically exact number but is certainly in a reasonable ballpark for a powerful gasoline engine.

Buyers with a bit more cash to splash and nerves of steel can add the SpaceX package, ten rocket thrusters that company founder Elon Musk says, “dramatically improve acceleration, top speed, braking & cornering.” While we understand the effects of rockets on acceleration in road vehicles, and perhaps can even imagine how braking might be improved, rocket-powered cornering is something we cannot wait to see in action.

Again: ten rocket engines.


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