As the decade draws to a close we look back on the supercar highlights of the last 10 years and choose our favourites. From Ferrari to Porsche, Lamborghini to Bugatti it's been quite a decade. But which of the world's mightiest road monsters make our list?
10 best supercars of the 2010s
The arrival of the McLaren MP4-12C in 2011 was arguably one of the bigger moments for the supercar scene of the 2010s, the establishment of a road car division to take on Ferrari, Lamborghini and the rest showing huge ambition. It’s not been easy but McLaren has now established itself with a British manufacturing base and a three-tier model range offering everything from hardcore track machines to space-age super GTs. All share fundamental roots of a carbon-fibre tub and twin-turbo V8 engine, the most iconic thus far being the 1,000PS (986bhp), hybrid-assisted P1 of 2013. With sensuous bodywork shrink-wrapped over high-tech underpinnings, F1-inspired active aero and a shape-shifting ability to morph from road car to hardcore track weapon it remains a high-point in McLaren’s recent resurgence.
Ferrari 458 Speciale
Ferrari’s run of form through the 2010s has been astonishing, its core models of mid-engined V8 Berlinettas and thundering front-engined V12s relentlessly pushing boundaries. Picking a stand-out model is difficult but if there’s one modern Ferrari uniting those who’ve experienced it above all others it’s the 458 Speciale, this perfect intersection between traditional engineering and modern tech creating a true legend. The screaming, naturally-aspirated V8 at its heart is its stand-out feature, revving to 9,000rpm and delivering 605PS (597bhp) to the rear wheels. But it’s the way technology like the F1-Trac differential, Side Slip Control and the rest enable even average drivers to enjoy it to the full that sets the Speciale apart. The hardcore Ferrari that allows mere mortals to feel like driving gods, the Speciale more than lives up to its name.
It seems odd to describe the Lamborghini Aventador as underrated but for all its remarkable looks and the quality of its carbon-fibre construction, pushrod suspension and magnificent 6.5-litre V12 engine some still consider it all show and no go. Launched in 2011, the Aventador’s tech has been somewhat drowned out by its more traditional powertrain but it remains a supercar great. And if the handling was relatively ‘safe’ early on Lamborghini has successfully unleashed its wild side since, increasing its ferocity, adding features like four-wheel steering and grafting on ever-wilder aero. That such an old-school beast could come within a couple of seconds of Porsche’s million-dollar hybrid 918 Spyder around the ‘ring demonstrated Lamborghini could, after all, play against the very best at the sharp end. The run-out SVJ version is a worthy swansong.
Those currently enjoying the cinematic account of Ford’s 1966 victory at Le Mans will appreciate the similar hard-headed determination to repeat the success half a century on, the Ford GT’s class win in 2016 was a remarkable achievement. Building a car from scratch to take on the best that Porsche, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Corvette and others could field in the GT class was no small task, the car that resulted pushing the boundaries for what was technically and legislatively acceptable on both road and track. The GT is no gentrified modern supercar, the brutality of its performance and driving manners reflecting the hard-headed racer’s mindset of its design and construction. Le Mans ’66 pulls no punches in its depiction of Ford’s ruthlessness in pursuing its racing ambitions. The modern GT’s embodiment of that makes it worthy celebration of the GT40.
Porsche 918 Spyder
You could arguably fill out this top 10 with Porsche 911 derivatives, given the brand’s run of form over the last decade. But the Porsche 918 Spyder stands apart, not just for the technical advances but also for its role in one of the great supercar battles of our time. Launched at the same time as the McLaren P1 and LaFerrari, the trio quickly became known as the ‘holy trinity’, each introducing hybrid power to the supercar game in very different ways. Whereas Ferrari and McLaren exploited a relatively straightforward electric boost the 918 was a line in the sand for Porsche and a statement of intent we now see realised in the all-electric Taycan. The 918’s explosive transition from silently accelerating EV into booming V8 supercar remains one of the stand-out moments of the decade for anyone who’s driven it.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
For three decades AMG was known as a Mercedes tuner, souping up saloons and coupes with muscular V8s for a very German twist on the classic hot-rod formula. As the 2010s dawned, though, AMG had greater ambitions and, now part of Mercedes proper, created its first ground-up engine and a supercar to showcase it. Styled as an homage to the classic 300SL Gullwing, under its retro lines the SLS was a sophisticated modern supercar with an aluminium spaceframe chassis, glorious 6.2-litre V8 and a rear-mounted double-clutch gearbox for perfect weight distribution. The Gullwing doors were an iconic feature but the SLS was more than a novelty act, establishing AMG as a manufacturer in its own right and underpinning a successful customer GT race programme. Its foundations live on in the current AMG GT too.
Porsche 911, reimagined by Singer
A cunning ploy to sneak an extra Porsche into this top 10 by the back door? Possibly. But the Porsche 911s restored by Californian perfectionists Singer Vehicle Design represent one of the more significant trends of the past decade. Because while supercars have got faster, a significant number of owners and collectors have realised they’re being left behind as drivers. And a mid-‘90s 911, sympathetically updated and restored in exquisite detail by Singer, has caught the imagination of many. Drawing on visual and technical influences from across the 911’s 50-year history, reimagined with carbon-fibre, leather and traditional tuning for an idealised celebration of classic motoring, these restorations drive as well as they look and command hypercar money. And yet Singer’s workshop has a queue out the door.
Aston Martin One-77
Aston Martin has undergone huge reinvention over the last decade as part of current boss Andy Palmer’s ‘second century’ vision. This has included a thoroughly overhauled range, a new engine supply deal with AMG and radical new look. Arguably one of the cars that helped it achieve this was the One-77, an exquisitely realised and ultra-exclusive statement of intent created under previous boss Ulrich Bez. First shown as a bare chassis in 2009, the carbon-fibre structure by Multimatic (who created the same for the Ford GT) looked almost as good without bodywork as it did clothed, the Cosworth developed 7.3-litre V12 within it an absolute monster of an engine. Its rarity means it has more or less disappeared from view but the One-77 remains one of the best looking and most hardcore of the decade’s super- and hypercars.
For a brand often dismissed as purveyor of ‘white goods’ motor vehicles Toyota has a commendably purist and eccentric approach to building cars when it turns its mind to it, the obsessive engineering mindset behind the Lexus LFA a distinctively Japanese approach to building supercars. Under-appreciated in its day, it’s only lately the LFA has won the recognition it deserved all along, the exotic, high-revving V10 at its heart as charismatic and distinctive as anything created by more established European supercar brands. Built on a carbon-fibre chassis and clothed in Katana-sliced bodywork of surprising boldness, the LFA’s influence has been felt on mainstream Toyota and Lexus products ever since. Eccentric, single-minded, uncompromising and a fabulous steer, the LFA is a slice of eastern exoticism unlikely to ever be repeated.
Having dominated the noughties the Super Sport version of the Bugatti Veyron laid down a marker at the dawn of the 2010s with a valedictory 267mph record, its Chiron successor closing out the decade by breaking the 300mph barrier earlier this year. As such, Bugatti’s presence as the absolute Top Trumps champion of the supercar world remains secure. That it comes from the Volkswagen stable is perhaps surprising but, as a pet project of Ferdinand Piech (who died this year), the original Veyron had a powerful sponsor with an appetite for pushing technical boundaries. From the Porsche 917 to the Audi Quattro, Piech’s restless ambition was always conquering new heights and Bugatti’s achievements stand as a formidable legacy.
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