The fastest cars you can buy for £500,000

10th June 2024
Russell Campbell

Yes, it's time for another 'fastest cars' list, this time with a half-a-million-pound budget. We're getting to the meaty end of the top-speed sandwich, with a 200mph top speed a minimum requirement for entry. Supercars dominate here (what else would you expect on our budget?) but they represent a glorious mix of old and new schools, interspersed with GTs with the power to mix it with mid-engine marvels. Usual rules apply, these are stock top speed and all of these cars are most definitely available in the UK on budget. Here's our guide to the fastest cars you can buy for £500,000.


Jaguar XE SV Project 8 – 200mph

Okay, so a faster supercar could have taken the Jaguar's place on this list – and the 207mph Bentley Flying Spur is a faster saloon – but the Project 8 is about quite a lot more than raw speed, which makes its 200mph Vmax all the more commendable. 

Like an XE silhouette, the Project 8 only shares its roof and front doors with the saloons you see pounding UK motorways. The 8's carbon-fibre body looks like it's been blown at glassmakers, oozing muscle everywhere, it reduces lift by more than 200 per cent compared to the standard car and generates 122kg of downforce at 186mph. Underneath, you'll find bespoke motorsport-grade suspension, a new hard-mounted rear subframe, and carbon-ceramic disc brakes the size of a Mexican Sombrero. Power comes from the same V8 fitted to the F-Type SVR tuned to produce 600PS (441kW) that, combined with four-wheel drive and sticky Michelin Cup 2 tyres, can slingshot the Jag from 0-62mph in 3.3 seconds. 


Maserati MC20 – 202mph

The Maserati MC20's blistering 202mph top speed makes it easily the fastest Maser on sale buying it a right to appear here, but perhaps it's more notable for being a Maserati that requires no excuses.

It would have been all too easy to make the MC a cut-price Ferrari, but credit where it's due, Maserati went its own way, building a mid-engined supercar with the easy-going traits of a GT. Screaming V8s and V12s are out the window, Maserati instead fitting a bellowing turbocharged V6 that’s at the heart of the MC's character. It can be vocal if you want, but equally, it can serve up searing performance while being surprisingly muted. And if you expect the carbon-tubbed supercar to have a bone-crunching ride, forget about it because it combines superb body control with a cosseting setup. Cram all those qualities into a car that looks this good, and we have one of the best Maseratis in decades. 


Mercedes SLR McLaren – 207mph

The Mercedes SLR wasn't universally loved when it went on sale in 2003. It was a car built on the compromise you get when you ask someone like Gordon Murray – McLaren Formula 1 designer and disliker of fluff – to make a flashy GT to appeal to the likes of Paris Hilton. The result was a car that didn't wholeheartedly appeal to either camp.

With the benefit of hindsight and without necessarily having to compare it to the period competition, it's much easier to drink in the SLR’s many attributes. If Lawrence Stroll thinks the DB12 is the world's first Super Tourer, then he should be reminded that the SLR – with its endless bonnet, side exit exhausts, and scissor doors – did a more comprehensive job of nailing the genre decades earlier. Forget the supercar; aspirations and the SLR make plenty of sense. It's an overtaking specialist capable of accelerating from 62mph to 124mph in just 7.1 seconds, doing it with an air-beating soundtrack like the V12 in a Spitfire, and doesn't run out of puff until it hits 207mph. 


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Porsche 991 GT2 RS – 211mph

If you're worried the modern Porsche 911 lacks a sting in the tail, then now's the time to re-familiarise yourself with the 991 GT2 RS, a car that packs 700PS (515kW) in a rear-engine, rear-wheel drive chassis that has to be limited, yes limited, to a top speed of 211mph.

Impressive though that top speed is, it's only half the story the GT2 tells; the rest comes in the form of mind-blowing acceleration of 0-62mph in 2.4 seconds, 0-124mph in 9.3 seconds, and 0-186mph in 22.1 seconds. The GT2 is as well-rounded as you'd expect of Porsche, with endless grip and unfadable brakes, wrapped in a big-wing, wide-body package that's rightfully reserved for the company's most savage creations. It's even pretty light given the power, tipping the scales at 1,470kg or 1,440kg if you get a Weissach Pack-equipped car with a roof and anti-roll bars made of carbon fibre and magnesium wheels. 


Aston Martin DBS 770 Ultimate – 211mph 

You might expect to find Aston Martin's latest GT, the DB12, on this list, but with a piddly 202mph top speed, it makes way for its limited edition predecessor, the DBS 770 Ultimate, which can swing the needle all the way around to 211mph. I’m sure you’ll agree, that is much more like it. 

Okay, so you'll have to wave goodbye to the DB 12's vastly improved (and much-needed) infotainment, but that's where the negatives end in our eyes. For a kick-off, the DBS 770's styling melds aggression with beauty in a way only Aston Martin can, completing the job with multi-spoke alloys that'll have you checking kidney prices on the dark web. The 770 also represents what Aston does best in terms of handling – tweaking the disappointing DBS with revised suspension, a stiffened chassis, and a more rounded power delivery to build a 770PS (566kW) V12 that’s as exploitable as a Mazda MX-5. 


Ferrari 812 Superfast – 211mph 

With a name like Ferrari 812 Superfast how could we not include this Italian GT in this list? One of Ferrari's last hurrahs to the GT genre as we know it goes about its business with characteristic panache; you won't find any hybridisation or turbos here. Instead, you get a dirty, great 6.5-litre V12 that produces 800PS (588kW) at an engine-grenading 8,500rpm – good for a top speed of 211mph. 

But while the engine is gloriously analogue, the Superfast is far from an old-school GT. Its stunning body hides four-wheel steering, a sophisticated electrical LSD, passive and active aero, and electric power steering with variable torque assistance. Surprisingly, the result is a car that feels delightfully pure, the main giveaway of the cleverness underneath is how easily it transmits its ferocious power to the road. Turning off all the electronics displays a natural balance that’s at the foundation of any great GT car. 


Ferrari 488 Pista – 211mph

We'll make no apologies for including two Ferraris with the same top speed on this list because, while the 488 Pista's performance is identical on paper to the Superfast, the way it delivers its performance couldn't be more different.

While the 812 is a (pardon the pun) super fast road car, the Pista is a through-and-through track machine that happens to be road-legal. Its 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged flat-plane crank V8 might sound similar to the GTB's, but in fact, it's based on the Challenge race car engine with 50 per cent new internals to handle a 51PS (37kW) power increase for 730PS (534kW) total. A new aero package increases downforce by 20 per cent while increasing drag by merely two per cent, and Ferrari's fettled the suspension and diff, and added a sprinkling of carbon fibre for good measure. The result is a car that is slightly noisier than the GTB and quite a lot faster but no more challenging to drive. Could it be mid-engine Ferrari nirvana? It certainly gets close. 


McLaren 720S – 212mph

If the MP4 12C – a rather modestly styled, almost apologetic machine – represented McLaren feeling its way into the modern supercar, the 720S represented what the company learnt in the interceding six years between the cars' launches. The 720S is a far more confident affair, with its love-them-or-loathe-them eye socket headlights and dramatically sculpted flanks.

Fundamentals are carried over from the MP4, including the carbon fibre tub, hydraulic steering, and the open differential, but there's a newfound ferocity to the exhaust and a drift mode that indicates McLaren has uncovered a fun side that was missing in the MP4. Handily, for this list, it's also ruddy fast. Power of 720PS (529kW) will make any car quick, but combining it with a package that tips the scales at under 1,500kg and 'fast' doesn't quite do the McLaren justice; it can accelerate from 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds while top speed sits at a mighty 212mph. 


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Dodge Challenger Demon – 215mph 

The Dodge Challengers sticks out like a sore thumb on this list. Its square-jawed form contrasts the aero-friendly supercars and GTs found here, even the Jaguar Project 8 saloon looks svelte by comparison. 

But what the Dodge loses to aerodynamic drag, it more than makes up for with raw muscle. Proving that there's something to be said for America's assertion that 'there ain't no substitute for cubic inches', the Demon uses a 376 cubic inch (6.2-litre) V8 fed by an oversized supercharger to thump out 818PS (602kW), enough to propel its brick-like form 0-140mph in less than 10 seconds, and on to an astonishing top speed of 215mph. Downsides? There are a few. The Demon is a road-going drag racer with comically large rear tyres and spindle-like fronts. A Ferrari it is not, but surprisingly enough, it's not terrible in corners. 


Lamborghini LP780-4 Ultimae – 221mph

It says everything you need to know about the Demon that to beat it, you need to call on the help of supercar royalty in the form of the Lamborghini LP780-4 Ultimae - the last hurrah to a V12 Lambo unburdened by electrical assistance. 

Fittingly, the Ultimae is everything you hope for from a range-topping Lamborghini. It's stunningly good-looking and also huge, but these dimensions don't translate to the interior, which is impractically tiny. It's of little concern when you crank the 6.5-litre V12 and bring to life its 791PS (582kW). As you'd expect, the Lambo has all the torque you need lowdown, but its genuinely ludicrous performance only comes in at the top end – screaming like a banshee as it headbutts through its 220mph glass ceiling. Yet despite its power and intimidating looks, the Ultimae is a well-balanced road car. Lambo's last pure GT could well be one of its best. 

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