These road-legal machines are criminally quick.
Conquering the famous and challenging Nurburgring faster than the competition, even if it's by a hair, has become a yardstick by which sports cars are judged. While a top 10 lap time alone does not make a great performance car, at the very least, it demonstrates an exceptional fusion of power, weight, grip, suspension tuning, and aerodynamics. None of these ingredients can guarantee a top-tier lap time without the rest, and horsepower alone is often an overrated part of the equation. For this list, we focused on the ten production cars that have thundered around the Green Hell in the shortest amount of time, bearing in mind that it's a constantly changing list as manufacturers keep raising the bar.
The rankings below are based on the shorter 12.8-mile section of the track more commonly used by automakers since the 1990s. Where available, we've included the marginally longer 12.944-mile run - the official Nurburgring lap, but only as of 2019 - that includes the T13 straight.
The first of four Porsche 911s to make the list, the GT3's time of 6:55.34 minutes just edges out the likes of the Porsche 918 Spyder and Ferrari 296 GTB. It managed 6:59.927 minutes over the longer 12.944-mile stretch.
Achieved in 2020, the GT3's time demonstrates what a superb platform the current generation of the 911 is. With 502 horsepower, the rear-wheel-drive GT3 is far less powerful than most other cars on this list, but its grip and poise allow it to make the most of the flat-six's grunt. It's especially quick when equipped with the optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
One of two Radicals SR8s on the list, the first thing most people want to know is: What is it? The British sports car's 6:55-minute run was set in 2005, way before any other entrant in the top 10, demonstrating how far ahead of its time it was. This extreme British sports car is argued by some as not deserving a place alongside other production cars, but UK officials authorized at least one car for road use, so it technically qualifies.
Its V8 produces around 363 hp, not much in this company, but it's the ultra-light curb weight of under 1,500 pounds that was responsible for its heroics at the Nurburgring in the mid-2000s.
*A Porsche 911 GT3 RS (992.1) technically qualifies for this position on the list with a time of 6:54.99 minutes, as per a Sport Auto test in 2022. However, since the same generation of the GT3 RS achieved an even quicker time with Porsche, we excluded Sport Auto's time from the list.
Conducted by Lamborghini itself, the Huracan Performante's lap time of 6:52.01 minutes was lauded back in 2016. It was a new production car record at the time and was especially notable for eclipsing the Porsche 918 Spyder's effort, which no longer makes the top 10.
The 631-hp V10, all-wheel-drive grip, and a revised suspension helped the Lambo set an even quicker lap time than the Aventador LP 750-4 Superveloce. An advanced active aerodynamics system and weight reduction further helped the Performante outperform expectations, as did the sticky Pirelli Trofeo R tires it wore at the time.
The second and final Radical SR8 on the list is also contentious, but since at least one car has been certified as street-legal, it's here. A larger engine than the original SR8, together with enhanced aerodynamics, helped the LM shave over six seconds off its own time in 2009. Running on Dunlop Direzza DZ03 tires, the LM's V8 made 454 hp, almost 100 horses up over the original SR8.
Porsche is working on a new GT2 RS, but the previous one isn't too shabby. It clocked a Nurburgring time of 6:47.3 minutes in 2017 in a model equipped with the Weissach Package. The audio and communication system was also deleted, saving valuable pounds.
The twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter six-cylinder engine pumps out 691 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, transferred to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Porsche claims a 0-60 mph time of 2.7 seconds, but it's the firmer suspension, weight-saving measures, and powerful carbon-ceramic brakes that helped it crush the Huracan Performante's lap time.
Lamborghini stole the production car Green Hell record back from Porsche in 2018 with this, shaving over two seconds off the time set by the GT2 RS 991.2. Heavy V12s are not typically associated with Nurburgring dominance, which explains why the SVJ is the only V12-engined car on this list. The 6.5-liter monster produces 759 hp at 8,500 rpm and 537 lb-ft of torque, its sheer power helping it overcome the deficiencies of the single-clutch automatic manual transmission, which isn't nearly as quick as a dual-clutch.
On the day of the track run, the SVJ was equipped with Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires. For a fairly large car that doesn't feel as lithe as a 911, it's incredible what Lamborghini achieved with the adaptive magnetorheological suspension and traction control system, allowing the Lambo to be manhandled at a pace that belies its size and weight.
A new Porsche 911 GT3 RS simply has to put in a good lap time along the Nurburgring, and the 992.1 generation did not disappoint last year. Along the more recent 12.944-mile stretch, the GT3 RS managed a time of 6:49.33 minutes. The 12.8-mile stretch that's more comparable with most other cars here took just 6:44.848 minutes.
Like the GT2 RS in sixth position, the GT3 RS was equipped with the Weissach Package. It flew along the circuit on optional Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires. With 518 hp, the GT3 RS' lap time is phenomenal, and eclipsing the much more powerful GT2 RS shows the improvements made from one 911 generation to the next. Along the 12.9-mile loop, the RS was 10.9 seconds faster than the normal GT3 - yes, the RS badge (rennsport, meaning racing in German) still lives up to its name.
One of the most focused AMGs ever, the GT Black Series astounded when it hit the Green Hell in 2020. On the longer stretch, its time was 6:48.047 minutes, narrowly edging ahead of the GT3 RS. The same goes for the shorter 12.8-mile time of 6:43.616 minutes. At the time, this made the AMG GT Black Series the record-holder for production cars, moving ahead of the Aventador SVJ.
Besides its 720-hp 4.0-liter V8, the Black Series has an AMG coilover suspension with adaptive damping, a nine-stage traction control system, and adjustable splitters and upper wing blades, all of which allowed the AMG team to configure it perfectly for the best possible time. On the Dottinger Hohe straight, the Black Series was able to hit 186 mph.
It took a monumental effort from AMG, with help from the brand's F1 division, to create another car that could surpass the GT Black Series, but more on that later.
The record holder until fairly recently, there is a significant gap between the GT2 RS upgraded by Manthey Racing - hence the 'MR' in the name - and the next-fastest car, the AMG GT Black Series. At 6:38.84 minutes along the 12.8-mile stretch, the Porsche shattered the AMG's record by nearly five seconds in 2021. Even more impressively, the Porsche's time of 6:43.30 minutes for the longer 12.9-mile stretch was faster than the AMG's time for the shorter route.
Wearing road-legal Michelin Sport Cup 2 R tires, the GT2 RS accomplished the feat at an average speed of 115.5 mph. Besides its heady 690-hp output, Manthey's changes to the chassis, brakes, and aerodynamics helped put plenty of daylight between the GT2 RS and everything else. Downforce alone more than doubled at the back.
The GT2 RS MR clung onto the record for over a year before another AMG blew it out of the water.
Could there be a more appropriate name for the current Nurburgring record-holder? The Mercedes-AMG ONE hybrid hypercar set a new record in 2022, and it wasn't even close. Its time along the shorter course was over eight seconds faster than the GT2 RS MR. Along the 12.944-mile stretch, its 6:35.183 minutes is another record that may not be surpassed for some time.
That all this was accomplished by a car with a 1.6-liter V6 makes it even sillier, but of course, the V6 isn't all that powers the ONE. The hybrid hypercar also has four electric motors for a total system output of 1,049 hp. Amazingly, track conditions were far from ideal on the day of the ONE's run, with parts of the asphalt not entirely dry. On another day, it's possible that the ONE could be even quicker.
The AMG ONE's result is a worthy gift for the car's engineers, who were forced to delay the project more than once simply because setting up an F1-derived powertrain for a road-legal car was an enormous technical challenge.
As there are bound to be grumblings about the inclusion of the Radical SR8s, we thought we'd consider what the list would look like without them. Well, sitting just beyond the top 10 is yet another Porsche, that being a 911 GT3 RS 991.2, which managed a time of 6:56.4 minutes in 2018. The legendary Porsche 918 Spyder's 6:57 minutes, set in 2013, would also qualify it for a place in the top 10. That would also make it the only hybrid on the list besides the AMG ONE.
Ferrari is notable for its absence in the list of fastest Nurburgring cars. Unlike immediate rival Lamborghini, Ferrari has maintained for years that it has no interest in Nurburgring lap times. That said, the 296 GTB did manage a sub-seven-minute lap time in 2023 when tested by Sport Auto.
Naturally, several limitations are at play when producing a road-legal car, be it aspects like ground clearance, installed safety equipment, types of brakes and tires used, or even whether a windshield is equipped. Without these restrictions, automakers are free to push the boundaries of performance.
The Porsche 919 Evo Le Mans holds the overall Nurburgring car record with a blistering time of 5:19.55 minutes over the 12.944-mile stretch, set in 2018. It smashed the previous all-time record by almost a full minute, a time that had stood for 35 years. A winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the total output of the record-breaking 919 is almost 1,200 hp.
The top 10 non-road-legal times are as follows:
Although the ID.R and EP9 have easily been the quickest EVs around the Nurburgring, it's not only fully electric racers that deserve a mention. In 2023, the Rimac Nevera set a record for electric production vehicles with a time of 7:00.928 minutes on the shorter circuit and 7:05.298 on the longer one. It conquered the Tesla Model S Plaid's record by 20 seconds, and we're sure it's not too long before a production EV dips below seven minutes. The Nevera may be capable of just that, as high temperatures on the track prevented the electric hypercar from hitting the sub-seven-second mark Rimac had hoped for.