The 2000s was a happy time for supercars. There was new metal being launched left, right and centre. But these new cars weren’t so insanely fast that they couldn’t still be enjoyed on the road, they were more useable than the supercars of the previous decades.
The ten best noughties supercars
As a result, our list of the best noughties supercars is quite long. It also throws up the question ‘what constitutes a supercar?’ Are some of these cars sportscars or hypercars? Does being a supercar have more to do with where the engine is than how much performance is on offer?
Well, we’ll let you engage in a spot of light arguing. Because in our book, these are all supercars.
Pagani Zonda C12S
Where else could we start but with the Pagani Zonda C12S? The first Zonda, the C12, was launched in 1999 by the former Lamborghini carbon-fibre extraordinaire Horacio Pagani – little did he know the Zonda would find quite such a following and he would still be building them almost 20 years later. The C12 S followed a year later, with a 7.0-litre AMG V12, but not long after that the V12 was expanded to 7.3 litres. This, for us, is the best Pagani Zonda, trumping even the later Zonda F and Zonda Cinque. Why? Because the engine sounded spectacular without being deafening (or relying on overexuberant exhaust systems) and its 543 horses were more than enough. It had a six-speed manual, too, and everything was constructed with absolute attention to detail. If you’re looking for a role model when it comes to automotive engineering, the Zonda is the perfect place to look.
There were faster Lamborghini Gallardos and there were more powerful Lamborghini Gallardos, but the original Gallardo remains our favourite. It looks spectacular, even today, thanks largely to the fact Lamborghini’s designers kept things simple – the prettiest Gallardos are the earliest, pre-facelift Gallardos. Its 5.0-litre, 493bhp naturally aspirated V10 sounded superb, and unlike its replacement almost a decade later, the Huracan, the Gallardo was available with a gated six-speed manual gearbox (the early automatic cars were hideously skilled at eating clutches and were therefore best avoided). What a marvellous machine.
Audi R8 V8
You might wonder why it’s the V8 R8 on our list rather than the V10, and we shall respond with another question: surely you’d buy the Lamborghini if you wanted the V10? It would have the same engine, the same gearbox, the same four-wheel-drive system and even the same steering wheel. Our choice of noughties Audi supercar would, therefore, be the V8 R8.
The 4.2-litre naturally aspirated V8, lifted directly from the B7 RS4, was an absolute peach. Moreover, it opened up a whole new audience to the Audi brand. An Audi wasn’t just a four-wheel-drive, nose-heavy box, but a super-exciting, mid-engined supercar. Proper job.
The Koenigsegg CCX is where things really got serious for Koenigsegg – people really started to sit up and pay attention to the Swedish firm. A development of the CCR and CC8S, the CCX was a raw, engineering lunatic that could dust aside most other noughties supercars. It had a twin-supercharged 4.7-litre V8, designed by Koenigsegg (previous Koenigseggs had used Ford engines) that produced 800bhp, with power going to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. A kerb weight of 1,456kg and a super slippery body meant the CCX could crack 245mph flat-out, and 62mph in 3.2 seconds. What a bonkers creation.
You can’t get more super in the noughties than the Bugatti Veyron. It was all too easy to get a little jaded with the Veyron as it reached the end of its life – it seemed like there were several hundred special editions, none of which was more than a paint job. But let’s not forget that the Veyron was the fastest car in the world. More than that, it was engineered to perfection and exquisetly put together. Other cars might have been able to match it for pace (eventually), but none felt quite so special, quite so expensive.
For fun, let’s run through some numbers, shall we? 1,000PS from an 8.0-litre, quad-turbocharged W16. 0-62mph in 2.5 seconds. 0-124mph in 7.3 seconds. 0-186mph in 16.7 seconds. Top speed? 253mph. We should never, ever forget about the Veyron.
When you name a car after your founder, it has to be pretty near perfect. The Ferrari Enzo, or F60, was the spiritual successor to the F40 and F50, and, at the time, the most advanced and most expensive Ferrari money could buy. If you could buy one, that is, as Ferrari had to know who you were and know how passionate you were about the brand before you were even allowed on the order list.
The Enzo had a 6.0-litre naturally aspirated V12, the same basic engine as the 599 GTB and 612 Scaglietti, but fettled to produce 651bhp. That, combined with a carbon-fibre tub and a kerb weight of 1,480kg, meant it would streak its way to 62mph in 3.2 seconds and would top out at 221mph. The fastest Ferrari road car ever made? Absolutely, let down only by its ever-so-slightly sluggish single-clutch automatic that would turn your clutch to dust were you to try launching away from a standstill with your foot to the floor more than three times in a row. A very expensive, Italian protest.
You probably don’t love the Maserati MC12 and, truth be told, there are some good reasons not to. Although built in collaboration with Ferrari, with the same chassis, engine, gearbox and so on, the MC12’s hips were wider making it even less usable. There was no rear window either, unlike the Enzo, so you couldn’t see anything out of the back. But who cares?
The MC12 is prettier than the Enzo and, with just 50 cars made to the Enzo’s 400, miles more exclusive. The MC12 was also raced, unlike the Enzo, which adds a further level of credibility and excitement to the MC12 than the Enzo just doesn’t have.
Aston Martin One-77
Another potential ‘it isn’t a supercar’ is the Aston Martin One-77, and while it might be a front-engined GT on paper, when it was launched it was the most powerful and most extreme Aston Martin road car ever made. Not to mention the most expensive, at £1.2 million.
The One-77 had a carbon-fibre monocoque chassis, a first for an Aston road car and an achievement that won’t be repeated until the Valkyrie arrives later in 2020, 11 years later. All of the bodywork was made from carbon-fibre, and it used adjustable pushrod suspension and carbon-ceramic brakes. The 7.3-litre naturally aspirated V12 had 750bhp, which in turn meant the One-77 could crack 220mph. Just 77 were made.
It is undeniably cool.
Porsche Carrera GT
Now we could talk about how the Porsche Carrera GT used a beechwood gear lever or how it was, at the time, the fastest Porsche road car of all time. But it’s very, very difficult not to focus on the Carrera GT’s engine. First of all, it’s a V10, one of the must high-pitched, emotive V10s ever made. Second of all, it’s an engine that should have found itself in Formula 1. A secret Porsche project in the early 1990s, the V10 had Formula 1 stardom in its sights before it was locked away when the project was cancelled. Porsche thought it had found a use for it in 1999, this time in LMP racing, but, yet again, the project was cancelled. Less than a year later, however, the Porsche Carrera GT Concept was shown at the 2000 Paris Motor Show, powered by that V10. Praise be, the 5.7-litre V10 Porsche Carrera GT went into production, launching in 2003. It is arguably one of the greatest road car engines of all time and, for that reason, the Carrera GT is one of the greatest supercars of all time.
Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren
Like the Aston One-77, the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren is a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive powerhouse, and at the time it was the first road car to carry the McLaren badge since the almighty McLaren F1. The collaboration between Mercedes-Benz and McLaren, although difficult at times, did at least produce something worthy of the supercar tag.
The Mercedes SLR McLaren, with its supercharged 5.4-litre V8, could walk past a Lamborghini Murcielago, and that’s saying something in itself, but it could do that whilst you flicked between albums with your six-CD autochanger. Perhaps installing a five-speed automatic gearbox wasn’t the finest engineering decision, and some of the interior plastics were truly shocking, but it had an air brake the size of a Spitfire’s wing and could obliterate most other cars on the road. A supercar Jekyll and Hyde if ever there was one.
Which is your favourite noughties supercar?
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