What Is It Exactly That Puts The ‘Super’ In Supercars?

Supercars are works of art. Even someone disinterested in all things automotive can’t help but feel envious when they see one drive by. But what puts the ‘super’ in supercars? It turns out, quite a bit…


Precisely what makes something ‘luxury’ isn’t always clear. A large part of it, however, seems to be derived through exclusivity. That is to say, the fact that not many people can get their hands on something. Part of the glamour surrounding supercars, then, is actually derived through the often colossal price-tags they come with. A Lamborghini Aventador S will set you back in excess of £270,000. That’s more than the average price of a house throughout much of the country. But this is loose change in the world of supercars. The Bugatti Chiron costs a staggering £2.5 million. At this stage, a car becomes an unreachable symbol of opulence and decadence; to see one is to get a taste of a world most of us will never have access to.


Ok, so we’ve spoken about price and how it plays into exclusivity. But keeping things exclusive enough in a global economy that produces more and more billionaires is harder than you might think. That’s why some automakers actually approach select customers themselves rather than the other way around. This way they ensure an appropriate amount of celebrities, cash-rich and influential people are driving around in car’s bearing their badges. It’s not unusual for 50% or more of an automaker’s inventory to have been sold prior to its official announcement. In addition, some manufacturers will even employ anti-resale policies to prevent them being sold on for a quick profit. A primary motivator of this is to retain that sense of exclusivity and elitism that their brand’s thrive off of.


As well as the responsiveness of a supercar, you’d be struck by their acceleration capabilities. Perhaps literally. It’s a surreal feeling to literally feel yourself being compressed into your seat after putting your foot down. We’re simply not used to hurtling from 0 – 60 in two seconds or less. It’s this sense of power that makes the whole experience so liberating; especially when you realise just how limited most typical cars on the roads are by comparison.

Top Speed

The average consumer car today has a top speed of around 120 mph. In the UK, that’s significantly higher than the maximum speed limit of 70 mph. In other words, you’re only going to get a taste of those speeds if you blatantly disregard the law (and commonsense) or if you take to an appropriate track or stretch of private land. If you did this, you’d remember the experience. So imagine what it’d be like to travel at 242 mph in a Koenigsegg CCR. Or, further still, cover an alleged 301 mph in a Hennessey Venom F5.

It’s In The Engine

Supercars aren’t all talk, they’re technical and mechanical masterpieces (at least in most cases). They’re known for their incredible speeds and staggering 0 – 60 capabilities. You might be tempted to imagine that they boast large, potent engines. But in most cases manufacturers opt for mid-engined solutions. The reason for this usually lies with weight. Heavy cars don’t tend to be particularly quick. Some models, like the classic Ferrari 208 GTB, opted for tiny engines like a 2.0-litre V8. So it’s not in the size of the engine that we find a ‘super’ quality, its how an engine’s capabilities are exploited and how its dimensions and characteristics work with (and compliment)  the rest of the car.


Most drivers have never experienced what it’s like to drive a supercar (and most never will). What tends to strike people who are fortunate enough to take one for a spin is how responsive they tend to be; at least, after they’ve gotten used to what are often less than comfortable and cramped interiors. Every slight depression of the accelerator or movement of the steering wheel will produce rapid results. This can be disorienting at first, but critics seem to agree that it’s immensely fun after you get used to it.


A car doesn’t need to look like a work of art in order to achieve mesmerising performance. But it certainly helps to make them stunning if you want to sell a heap of them. But making a car that looks and drives great is hard. Why? Because everything has to be designed around the principles of performance. This includes the likes of weight, wind-resistance and (to some extent) the comfort of the occupants. It’s finding this level of equilibrium that makes designing and assembling supercars so challenging; and why, in many cases, they cost an absolute fortune.


In the automotive industry, the historic struggle for better and better supercars has been a question of raw power; the endless struggle to make more and more potent machines. This is changing, according to the CEO of McLaren. Mike Flewitt believes the competition is now to make lighter and lighter supercars with increasingly complex and innovative materials; he’s described this as a ‘weight race.’ The lighter a car is, after all, the easier it’ll be to manoeuvre and the quicker it’ll be on the track.

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