A supercar can be defined by hundreds of horsepower, a price tag that ranges for hundreds of thousands to millions and lap times that compete with racing cars. They are some of the best performance cars that can legally be driven on the road, and will probably outperform race cars of previous years.
The Definition of a Supercar
The term supercar originated in 1920 in a newspaper called The Times in reference to the 6.7-liter Ensign 6. However, nowadays this term is flung around for cars that have excellent performance and an attractive looking design. Consider the various cars manufactured by Ferrari, McLaren, Lamborghini and Bugatti.
What differentiates a supercar from all other is the combination of the price, design, technology and performance. Typically, not all 4 categories need to have an elevated status over the competition, but when a combination of these are better than most, the difference is big enough to give it that supercar status.
As an example, the Corvette C7 ZO6 only has a price tag of $80,000, but the visual design and lap times are excellent – well above the average road car out there. Therefore, it holds the title of supercar.
Also the McLaren 650S has no innovative technology, or truly unique design elements, but the 0 to 60 acceleration is below 3 seconds. It’s still considered a supercar that’s above the rest of the competition.
The Ariel Atom V8 is basically a cage on wheels, but it has the supercar status. The simplistic design and relatively low price tag is outweighed by the extreme performance on a race track.
However, the term supercar is a relative term, which means that what one individual consider a specific car to be a supercar might not be the case for another person. It all comes down to preference, but for the most part a true supercar will have the consensus of the majority that it’s a supercar.
What is a Hypercar?
On the other hand, hypercar is a term that’s reserved for the top 1% of supercars, the cream of the crop that are able to excellent in all 4 categories of performance, price, innovation and visual design. It’s easier to qualify a supercar because the term has been around for a long time, and by now we have a decent idea of what one is. However, hypercar is a relatively new term and there is a lot of debate regarding when a car is worthy of the title.
For example, the Ferrari 458 is an amazing supercar – probably better than the average supercar out there. However, it doesn’t compare with the quality of the Bugatti Chiron hypercar, which is perhaps the number one hypercar out there.
Hypercars have a higher level of prestige than supercars – after all, they are one level above them. Therefore, the criteria of what makes a hypercar is stricter and there can only be a few that are elevated to that status. The resources and ingenuity required to manufacture such a car is not something most manufacturers are capable of.
The Porsche 918, Ferrari La Ferrari, and the McLaren P1 are all considered hypercars with million-dollar price tags, around 1,000 horsepower and industry leading technology. The design of each car will turn heads when driving in a city – this is the hallmark of a hypercar.
No compromise can be made with a hypercar as the best design elements must be used, typically after years of designing supercars that experience can be used to create a hypercar. All the most impressive aspects of the supercar must be combined in a hypercar so that the end result is head and shoulders above the competition.
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Supercars Are Getting Better
Due to improvements in technology the quality of supercars is constantly increasing, and there are more of them being released every year. Therefore, the criteria for what makes a hypercar is also becoming stricter. As technological breakthroughs are made the hypercar of today might become the supercar of tomorrow. Therefore, constant innovation needs to occur for new hypercars to be released.
For example, the top speed of 185mph used to be classed as extreme, but now a family sedan like the BMW M5 can beat those speeds. Therefore, significantly higher speeds need to be present in a supercar, and even higher speeds in a hypercar.
Also when a manufacturer with a car like the Lamborghini Murcielago, an undisputed hypercar, creates a new version, then the status is somewhat diminished. The Aventador is the newly crowned hypercar of Lamborghini, which means it’s easier to demote previous versions to supercars.
The Future of Supercars and Hypercars
Moving into the future you can expect the majority of supercars to contain a hybrid powertrain like in the McLaren P1 and La Ferrari. It’s evident that cars with this design are superior, but the price tag and complexity of such technology is simply too high. Therefore, achieving high production numbers with supercars is not yet a cost-effective process – so the technology is reserved for hypercars.
However, a few design elements that were only found in hypercars is now being implemented in supercars due to more efficient manufacturing. For instance, movable aerodynamics is a premium feature reserved for the hypercars now features in the Ferrari 488 GTB, which is a supercar.
Part of the reason why hypercars need to be constantly innovative is that their technology trickles down to the supercars. However, with the fast pace of technological improvements there is no doubt that there will be an abundance of new features that can be implemented in the hypercars of tomorrow.