Aural pleasure comes easily with these powerful machines.
The advent of turbocharging has made it much easier to improve both performance and efficiency. The four turbochargers on the Bugatti Veyron, one of the fastest cars ever, helped it generate record-breaking power and top speed numbers, but the engine doesn't make a great sound and runs into its limiter at around 6,400 rpm. With noise limits and pollution controls dictating how motors are built, turbocharging is the easy route.
Thankfully, there are still a great many vehicles with naturally aspirated engines that rev to stratospheric heights. In fact, our list of the top 10 highest-revving engines is entirely dominated by machines that are totally devoid of forced induction. Sure, they lack low-end torque, but they more than make up for it with aural drama and a stratospheric redline.
In last place on our list is the awe-inspiring Audi R8 GT, which has a redline of 8,700 rpm. Its 5.2-liter naturally aspirated V10 engine produces 602 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque, enabling a 0-60 mph time of just 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 199 mph. Unfortunately, both the R8 and the Huracan, with which it shares an engine, are in their twilight, so enjoy their unique V10 sounds while you can. Before long, the R8 and Huracan will join their turbocharged rivals in compromise. The Huracan is rumored to get a turbocharged V8, and the R8 could go electric.
The Honda S2000 has an F20C 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that revs out to a very impressive 8,900 rpm and generates up to 247 hp and 161 lb-ft. While power and torque may be low, the rev limit is in the same place as the Ferrari F12tdf, one of the finest supercars of our time.
The Prancing Horse is equipped with a 6.3-liter V12 that produces 770 hp and uses lighter internal components to reach its rev ceiling as quickly as possible. The Ferrari is better at reaching speed in increasingly rabid fashion as it sweeps the tach, but the S2K revved to 8,900 first.
Once you start flirting with 9,000 rpm, exhaust noises reach a new dimension, but none can quite match the sonorous shriek of the Lexus LFA. The harmonics of the engine were tuned by Yamaha, and the result is one of the best noises gearheads have ever heard. The 4.8-liter V10, capable of 552 hp, revs from 900 rpm to its redline of 9,000 rpm in just 0.6 seconds, making it one of the quickest-revving engines on the planet. The revs rise and fall so quickly that Lexus had no choice but to install a digital rev counter. Its extra secret weapon is that the fuel cutoff arrives at 9,500 rpm.
Other cars, like the Porsche 911 GT3 and GT3 RS and the exquisite Ferrari 458 Italia and Speciale, also rev to 9,000, but we'd argue that the Lexus LFA's unit is the most melodic. The 458 is a close second, but Porsche is a distant third in this case.
Honorable mention also goes to the Honda Beat. Although its official redline is 8,500 rpm, the fuel cut-off only kicks in at 9,000.
The first of the original Holy Trinity hitting this list is the 875-hp Porsche 918 Spyder, powered by a 4.6-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine mated to an electric motor on each front wheel. We don't really care for increased weight, but electrification improves low-end torque. What we're interested in is how it sounds, and with a redline of 9,150 rpm, the successor to the Carrera GT keeps the tradition of hair-raising hypercars alive. Top-exit exhaust outlets producing a blue flame look cool, but they also place the sound of escaping gases closer to the cabin. With the ability to remove the roof, the Porsche 918 Spyder offers peak aural pleasure. The ability to do well over 200 mph is just a bonus.
The eponymous hypercar you see below arrived as the definitive Ferrari in 2013 as the brand's first full hybrid. Its 6.3-liter V12 is supported by an electric system that helps to generate a total of 950 hp and 664 lb-ft of peak torque. That made it Ferrari's most powerful road car at the time, and its top speed was claimed to be 218 mph - still competitive today. As awesome as those figures are, the highlight is how it sounds at full tilt, with the redline arriving at a remarkable 9,250 rpm. But the Ferrari LaFerrari is beaten by a tiny Kei car from Japan…
Featuring a naturally aspirated engine with a capacity of just 657 cc, the Suzuki Cappuccino is a surprise entry on the list if you're not a JDM fanatic. The tiny three-cylinder motor may seem meek (64 hp and 63 lb-ft), but it's certainly fun to play with, as the revs only run out at 9,300 rpm. Peak power arrives at 6,500 rpm, and the redline is actually at 8,500 rpm, but the fuel cutout only intervenes 800 rpm later. And with a manual transmission requiring your input for every gear, chasing that high-rpm hit is all the more entertaining. Upgrade the connecting rods, pistons, valvetrain, and a few other things, and you can turbocharge this engine or increase its rev limit with relative ease.
There are several vehicles that we could focus on here, but we're choosing the Lamborghini Revuelto because it's new and exciting and points to the future of the supercar segment. A 6.5-liter V12 combustion engine is joined by a trio of electric motors for a peak power of 1,001 hp, allowing the electrified supercar to accelerate to 60 mph in just 2.5 seconds. Hybridization is not all that is new, and the clunky transmissions fitted to every iteration of its predecessor and several special editions have been replaced by a new dual-clutch system, which will make each gear shift far smoother. The V12 powers the rear wheels while the electric motors handle the front, creating an effective four-wheel drive system.
Other cars capable of a 9,500-rpm peak include the Ferrari Daytona SP3, 812 Competizione, and the Mazda RX-8. With rotors spinning around a central shaft, aftermarket tuners have made the Renesis rotary engine go far further, but if we're being honest, we'd rather risk the reliability of an Italian V12 for a fix of high revs.
Honorable mention goes to the 1965 Honda S800, which managed the same redline with a tiny 791-cc inline-four.
With a 10,600-rpm redline, one might wonder how the motor in the Ariel Atom V8 was made to rev so high. Well, Ariel contacted Hartley to create the engine, and the outfit decided to combine two Suzuki Hayabusa motors with a common crankshaft. Motorcycle pistons carry less weight and are far more accustomed to high revving, and the end result is just as scary in the Ariel Atom V8. 500 horsepower in what is essentially a race car with no bodywork and loads of scaffolding is definitely a good way to quicken your pulse, even if you keep both hands on the wheel as you operate the six-speed sequential transmission from Sadev. It's a production sports car, but its dizzying rev limit, rear-wheel drive setup, and wild aerodynamics command more respect than most supercars. Vehicles don't come much more vivacious than this V8.
The Aston Martin Valkyrie and the Gordon Murray T.33 have two things in common: They both took advantage of Cosworth's engineering brilliance to produce spectacular V12s, and both have engines that rev to 11,100 rpm. The British company has proved the point that it understands the naturally aspirated internal combustion engine and how to make power from it better than almost any other manufacturer, and if you want one of the highest-revving production cars ever made, Cosworth is the outfit to call.
In the Valkyrie, the 6.5-liter V12 and an electric motor combine for peak power of 1,139 hp. The T.33 does without electrification in its 3.9-liter V12 and only produces 656 hp, but it's a far more approachable vehicle. It also happens to be lighter, but any way you can experience 11,100 rpm should be embraced. For most of us, that means no more than watching an engine dyno video.
The 3.9-liter V12 in the T.50 is a variation of the one that the T.33 uses, but in that car, it was revised for better low-down torque. Here, Cosworth aimed for the moon and ended up with the highest-revving engine ever fitted to a production car. 12,100 rpm is the stuff of superbikes, not road cars, but anyone who gets to drive this three-seater car won't complain.
The sound of this halo model is glorious. Only 100 examples of the T.50 will ever be produced, but if you want to experience the highest-rpm engine in the world in the ideal setting, you'll want the T.50s Niki Lauda, which uses an almost identical engine and revs just as high but is restricted to track use. Whether it's in the race car or the road car, this V12 will go down as the finest engine ever made. Its extraordinary redline is spine-tinglingly entertaining, but spare a thought for the notion that naturally aspirated combustion may have reached its production car peak.
Just missing out on this list is the C8 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, which revs out to 8,600 rpm. Behind it, the Lamborghini Huracan STO tops out at 8,500 rpm, as do several other Huracan models, including the more recent Tecnica. The lightweight STO is simply more special because of its racing influence.
Other cars that manage 8,500 rpm are the Koenigsegg CC850 and the McLaren 570S, but we have a few higher performers too. There had to be a Honda on a feature about high-revving engines, so here you go: the Honda Beat, like the Suzuki Cappuccino, can rev to 9,000+.
The track-only McLaren Solus GT, with its bespoke 5.2-liter V10, revs north of 10,000 rpm. There's also the Czinger 21C, which has a 2.88-liter twin-turbo flat-plane crank V8 revving to a mindblowing 11,000 rpm. We didn't include it here because production models are yet to roll out of the factory. Finally, we give a tip of the hat to the De Tomaso P900. If the track-only hypercar reaches production as intended, it will target a redline of 12,300 rpm from its 6.2-liter V12.
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