Comparisons in the car world seem to be the fodder of car lists, and we even shop for cars based on superlatives: best fuel economy, best towing capacity, best accessories, “safest,” or most powerful. For now, here are three of the most powerful car engines available today, sticking – mostly – to street-legal cars.
Koenigsegg One:1 – Most-Powerful Production Car
A Camry or Camaro it isn’t, not least of which because you’ll probably never see a Koenigsegg One:1 on the same road as a Camry or Camaro. It’s prohibitively expensive, to be sure, but the $2.85 million price tag is possibly justifiable. Every part of the world’s first “megacar,” producing 1 megawatt or 1,341 horsepower, has been scrutinized and built to reduce weight, increase strength, and improve aerodynamics. Clearly, the amount of engineering that’s gone into the One:1 is reason enough for the price, but that engineering also required exotic materials and processes to accomplish, such as active suspension and aerodynamic components and the world’s first carbon-fiber wheels.
The Koenigsegg One:1 draws its power from a twin-turbocharged 5.0-liter V8 engine and features a 1:1 power:weight ratio – 1,341 hp drives 1,360 kg from zero to sixty in just 2.5 seconds.
2018 Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG – Most Power Per Liter
“It’s all in the cubes, baby,” may or may not have been heard in a famous or not-so-famous car movie, because we used to measure engine displacement in cubic inches, but most car engines today use the metric system – 1,000 cc (cubic centimeter) is 1.0 liters is 61 cubic inches. It’s generally true that, the more power you want for your car, the bigger the engine needs to be, but that doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze more power out of the same displacement using better engineering, fuel, or forced induction.
Squeezing the most power out of its small engine is the Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG. Featuring a 2.0-L inline four-cylinder engine, AMG engineers literally put the squeeze on, using a single intercooled twin-scroll turbocharger and other enhancements to boost power. With industry-leading 26.1 psi boost, the CLA 45 AMG’s engine puts out 375 hp, and astonishing 187.5 hp/liter, launching the compact sedan to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds.
Devel Sixteen – Most Powerful Custom Car
“Insane” would probably be the best way to describe this next vehicle, but it’s more than just welding a couple of V8s to each other. Some crazy Dubai backer had an insane dream, to put it simply, 16 cylinders, 4 turbochargers, and 5,000 hp. Steve Morris Engines developed the new engine, completely custom-built, though taking many cues from the big-block Chevy engines he works with all the time. Still, familiarity hasn’t made development an easy task. Practically every single detail, from the billet block and four-foot-long crankshaft to the custom EFI system – he even had to work out firing 16 cylinders on paper to come up with something that wouldn’t try to destroy the engine.
After 18 months of development, starting the new engine couldn’t have been without considerable trepidation. With regular 92-octane gasoline, the Devel 16 beats 4,515 hp, the maximum rating of the dynamometer it’s connected to. The car itself looks every bit the part, though there’s no way to know if it’s just a one-off or might go into “production” – albeit a la Koenigsegg.
Every year, thanks to new technologies, better manufacturing, better engineering, and inevitable tweaking, the field changes, and the most-powerful car engine today might not be most-powerful tomorrow.