There's nowhere to go from here.
Ladies, gentlemen, and anyone anywhere in between, we have reached the golden age of horsepower. As the choice of electric vehicles expands and gas prices go through the roof, the gas engine is peaking. For $68,915, around the price of a Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe, you can buy a muscle car with 707 horsepower brand new, including the gas guzzler tax. If you spend more, you can buy the kind of power that needs specially developed tires. Just twenty years ago, 300 hp was reserved for high-end sports cars. Now, you can buy a four-cylinder Mustang for around $28,000. Before the internal combustion engine goes into decline, though, it feels like automakers are keen to push the limits and make a final batch of crazy cars. Whether it's trucks, muscle cars, sports cars, or supercars, there's some awe-inspiring stuff on the market.
Nobody has done as much to democratize horsepower as Dodge in the horsepower wars. When Dodge dropped its Hellcat bomb on the market with 707 horsepower and a box of parts with tools to quickly modify the car for maximum drag strip attack, the car world rejoiced. Now, you can pick up the Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock with 807 hp for $86,230. It will hit 60 mph in 3.25 seconds and run the quarter-mile in 10.5 seconds from the factory. Drag tires are standard, as is a limited-slip differential and a Bilstein adaptive suspension setup designed to go soft at the back and help transfer weight to the rear for takeoff.
"But Challenger SRT Super Stock is a one-trick pony!" we heard Europeans cry, "It can't go round corners!" Well, if racing in a straight line isn't your thing, the $76,555 Shelby GT500 is the answer. Its 5.2-liter supercharged V8 makes 760 hp, which is the kind of number you saw in NASCAR twenty years ago. However, the Shelby GT500 isn't designed for tracks where you only turn left. It's designed to hold its own with any German equivalent on the road or track and takes the already wold-class Mustang sports car to a whole new level of ferocity.
Ford is planning on putting the Predator V8 from the GT500 in the F-150 Raptor, but until then, you'll have to make do with the Ram 1500 TRX making "just" 702 hp for a smidgen over $70,000. It uses the same 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 from the Challenger SRT models but powers the TRX off-road as well as on. The TRX punches its way to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, and remember that we are talking about a truck weighing 6,439 pounds here. The TRX isn't just about going fast in a truck, though. It's about going fast across the desert in a truck, and to that end, it rides on Bilstein Black Hawk e2 adaptive performance shocks explicitly developed for the TRX. One of the suspension's benchmarks is to be able to dissipate enough heat that the truck can run comfortably at over 100 mph on rough ground. You'll run out of gas before the shocks overheat, though, as the TRX gets just 10/14/12 mpg city/highway/combined.
Nothing is as hilariously fun to drive on the street as an absurdly overpowered SUV. The list is long now, and almost every high-end sports car brand has a fire-spitting SUV in its lineup. However, you can spend six figures on a Lamborghini Urus with 641 hp or an Aston Martin DBX707 with 697 hp, but don't be surprised if a soccer mom or dad gives you a run for your money in a Dodge Durango. The Durango is currently Dodge's worst named vehicle, and it's a balding middle-aged porker with a pot-belly compared to segment competition from Hyundai or Toyota. That just makes the SRT Hellcat version even more hilarious to drive with its 710 hp and ability to sprint to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. There are better ways to spend $80,995, but few of them can lay down that kind of power and tow up to 8,700 pounds.
Ferrari's Competizione is another great example of hitting the horsepower peak before going electric. Ferrari's 6.5-liter V12 screams to 9,000 rpm and makes 819 hp on the way. Sure, an SRT Charger will get you 800 hp for well under a sixth of the Ferrari's $583,000 price tag. But, before the electric revolution takes hold, a V12 with Ferrari style is the way to do it if you have the means and can stomach Ferrari's arrogance and snobbery when you try to give them money for a car. Independent testing has the 812 Competizione hitting 60 mph in 2.8 seconds. All-electric does it even quicker, quieter, and for less money, but the Ferrari 812 does it with style and will lose a Tesla Model S Plaid for dead after the first corner.
A production 1,000-hp gas-only engine has become pretty much unnecessary outside of a topped run as, broadly speaking, using a hybrid drivetrain to fill the gap during acceleration is a more useful way to go. Koenigsegg is leaning into hybrid, but it has a swansong for the gas-only powertrain. The Jesko improves upon the Koenigsegg Agera's 5.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 to produce a staggering 1,280 hp on pump gas or an astonishing 1,600 hp on E85 fuel. The Jesko uses the world's lightest V8 crankshaft and a next-level nine-speed multi-clutch transmission to propel it to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds and a near-300 mph top speed. According to Koenigsegg, it's the downforce generated on the track-oriented Jesko that stops it from breaking the 300 mph barrier. So, an equally limited production version called the Jesko Absolut with altered aero "to reduce drag or surrounding turbulence while increasing high-speed stability" is coming for our final car on the list. Oh, and the "standard" Jesko should now be called the Jesko Attack. 125 models will be made, equally split between Attack and Absolut, with prices starting from $2.8 million.
You can't talk about peak horsepower without bringing up the $3.9 million Bugatti Chiron Super Sport. It's powered by an absurd, on so many levels, 8.0-liter quad-turbocharged W16 engine that makes 1,577 horsepower. It is, essentially, the same Bugatti that broke the 300 mph barrier, and that's a barrier that an electric vehicle isn't going to meet for a long time. The Bugatti Chiron is also the car that went to the bleeding edge of what tire technology can currently deal with, and the production cars are limited from the factory for that reason. And that's the biggest signifier that we have reached peak horsepower. More power won't get a car to go faster as it is no longer the limiting factor to top speed. By the time those limits have been breached in a meaningful way, other powertrain technologies will have taken over. If Koenigsegg tops the Chiron's 304.773 mph record, it likely won't be by much.