10 Most Powerful V8 Cars
Researching this article, we realized for a manufacturer’s product to even have a shot at making this list of the 10 most powerful V8 cars, the vehicle would have to have at least 557 horsepower. Absolutely insane (in a good way…) this meant the Cadillac CTS-V was edged out by one horsepower!
Another thing we noted during the compilation of this list is most of these engines use the automotive equivalent of performance-enhancing supplements. Yep, for the most part, they’re juicing y’all—big time! In this case we’re talking forced aspiration through either a pair of turbochargers or a supercharger. The days of playing in these ranks with a normally aspirated powerplant are almost gone.
Before we go any farther, here are the qualifiers.
To make this list, a car has to be a mass-production automobile from one of the major automakers doing business in the United States. Yes, we know there are all sorts of cars like the Lingenfelter Corvettes out there making 800+ horsepower, but those are tuner cars made by specialty manufacturers. What we’re talking about here are production cars from mainstream manufacturers fitted with OEM parts.
10 Most Powerful V8 Cars: Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat – 707 Horsepower
The most powerful V8 engine ever offered in a production car produces 707 horsepower and 650 ft-lbs of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission routes power to the rear wheels. With this engine, the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat has also qualified as the fastest muscle car ever with a National Hot Rod Association-certified ¼-mile elapsed time of 11.2 seconds at 125 miles per hour wearing stock Pirelli P275/40ZR20 P Zero tires. When drag radials were fitted, the SRT Hellcat’s run dropped to just 10.8 seconds at 126 mph. It wasn’t long ago a 10-second car was a full-on racing car. The new 2015 Dodge Challenger is perfectly street-legal and raises the bar to a level some of us never thought we’d see. As of this writing, pricing had yet to be announced.
10 Most Powerful V8 Cars: Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 – 662 Horsepower
Before the Challenger Hellcat came along, the big dog in this pack was Ford’s 662-horsepower Shelby GT500 Mustang. With an all-new Mustang debuting for 2015—there are rumblings the GT500 won’t be offered for 2015. However, we are certain if you head to your Ford dealer before the end of the model year and announce your desire for one (with the financial resources to support your desire), they’ll work something out—OK? Offered in both coupe and convertible body styles, the supercharged 5.8-liter V8 fitted to the GT500 also makes 631 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed manual transmission routes the powerplant’s output to the rear wheels. Lest you think this is just a Mustang with a more powerful engine, you should know Ford’s SVT engineers also reworked the braking, steering, and suspension systems to make every effort to contain the Herculean output of the GT500’s engine. Pricing starts at $55,110 for the coupe and $60,110 for the convertible.
10 Most Powerful V8 Cars: Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z06 – 625 Horsepower
Hot on the heels of the all-new 2013 Corvette Stingray is the first of its higher performing variants. Though GM is still being cagey about the details, it is saying the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z06 will extract “at least” 625 horsepower and 635 ft-lbs of torque from its supercharged 6.2-liter V8. This will make it the second most powerful production Corvette ever offered, just barely below the output of the highly regarded 638-horsepower Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, which went out of production in 2013. The Z06 is also expected to be somewhat lighter than the standard Corvette Stingray. A choice of two transmissions will be offered to route the engine’s output to the rear wheels—a seven-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters. As of this writing, pricing had yet to be announced.
10 Most Powerful V8 Cars: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series – 622 Horsepower
We have come away from none of our encounters with the 583-horsepower Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT (which also rates a spot on this list) thinking the one thing this car could use is more power. Which, I suppose is why we don’t work with the guys in the white coats at Mercedes AMG. For the Black Series version of the SLS, they urged another 59 horsepower from the normally aspirated handcrafted 6.3-liter V8 as used in the standard SLS model, and another 39 over what they get for the GT application of the engine to the SLS. The engine makes 468 ft-lbs of torque. And yes, we said handcrafted. A team of craftsmen—who proudly affixes their signature to the powerplant—builds these engines (one man builds one engine at a time). A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is employed to route power to the rear wheels. Of course, adding power wasn’t enough; they also lightened the car by 95 pounds (compared to the standard SLS Coupe) and improved its aerodynamics. Pricing starts at $276,800.
10 Most Powerful V8 Cars: Ferrari 458 Speciale – 597 Horsepower
While Ferrari’s primary stock in trade is its ultra smooth and uber raucous V12s, the company does dabble in V8s as well. To this end, the mid-engine Ferrari 458 Italia Speciale houses one of the most powerful V8 engines in series production. Also making 398 ft-lbs of torque, the 4.5-liter V8 in the Ferrari eschews artificial aspiration. By increasing the compression ratio and reworking most of the hard parts of the engine, Ferrari’s engineering team qualified the 458 Speciale for this list by coaxing an additional 35 horsepower from the engine over the standard version. A seven-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission routes power to the rear wheels. Essentially a 458 Italia cranked up to 11, the 458 Speciale’s pricing starts at $237,259.
10 Most Powerful V8 Cars: Chevrolet Camaro ZL-1 – 580 Horsepower
Chevrolet bills it as the highest performing Camaro of all time. Boasting 580 horsepower from its supercharged 6.2-liter V8, the ZL1 also enjoys a very robust 556 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard equipment, while a six-speed automatic can be had as an option. The ZL1 comes in both coupe and convertible bodies. Helping harness all of that power is a magnetic suspension system similar to the one Chevy uses on the Corvette. Bigger brakes also figure into the ZL1’s prowess over the standard Camaro models. Camaro ZL1 pricing starts at $55,355 for the coupe and $60,555 for the convertible.
10 Most Powerful V8 Cars: Mercedes-Benz CLS63 S 4Matic/ E63 AMG 4Matic/ S63 AMG – 577 Horsepower
Tied for 7th place at 577 horsepower each, are the AMG 4Matic versions of the Mercedes-Benz E Class, S Class, and CLS Class. While the engine boasts the same power output in all three cars, each has its own unique character. Thus, they could also have rated separate entries on this list. However, we thought it only fair to combine them into one listing so a couple of other cars well deserving of a mention here could have their moments. In addition to 577 horsepower, the twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 engine fitted to these cars makes 590 ft-lbs of torque. All three models are all-wheel drive. A seven-speed multi-clutch transmission routes power to their drive wheels. S63 AMG 4Matic pricing starts at $141,450; the CLS63 AMG S 4Matic starts at $106,500; and the E63 AMG S 4Matic starts at $99,770.
10 Most Powerful V8 Cars: Competition Package BMW M5/M6/M6 Gran Coupe – 575 Horsepower
Though the standard versions of these cars make “only” 560 horsepower and 500 ft-lbs of torque, for the 2014 model year, BMW introduced an optional Competition Package with a freer-flowing exhaust system in addition to upgraded steering and suspension systems. Boasting 575 horsepower from the twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8, a seven speed automated manual transmission routes power to the rear wheels. Compared to the standard versions of these cars, the Competition Package iterations ride a bit more stiffly, but they handle better too—so it’s really a matter of personal preference. Pricing for the M5 starts at $92,900; the M6 coupe starts at $111,900; M6 Gran Coupe starts at $115,700; and the M6 Convertible Starts at $118,200. The Competition Package adds $7,300 to the price of each car.
10 Most Powerful V8 Cars: Porsche Panamera Turbo S – 570 Horsepower
When Porsche announced it was planning to build a four-door sedan, the naysayers had a field day. While we were desensitized to the idea of anything other than a sports car wearing the Porsche crest after the success of the Cayenne, others were still somewhat less than convinced. The Panamera quickly silenced them however. A 192-mile per hour four-door sedan, the Porsche Panamera Turbo S revels in an output of 570 horsepower from its twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V8. On overboost, the engine is capable of producing some 590 ft-lbs of torque. The all-wheel drive four-door uses a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. Its top speed ranks it among the fastest sedans in the world. Panamera Turbo S pricing starts at $180,300.
10 Most Powerful V8 Cars: Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG Performance Package – 557 Horsepower
Bringing up the rear, while simultaneously leading, is the AMG Performance Package Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG. This version of the Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG delivers 27 more horsepower than the “standard” car to capture its spot on this list of the 10 most powerful V8 cars. Its “mere” 557 horsepower places it last here in terms of horsepower, but its massive 664 ft-lbs of torque is the most of any engine here. A seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission routes thrust from the twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter engine to the rear wheels. Remarkably, even with all of this power at its disposal, the Mercedes roadster still manages to be quite civilized—until you let the engine scream its lungs out. SL63 AMG Performance Package pricing starts at $156,300.