The world's new most powerful road car is finally here.
A few years ago, the industry coined the term "hypercar" to describe only the most exclusive, most expensive, most powerful, breathtakingly high-performance cars to enter production. Precisely where the line is drawn between "hypercar" and "supercar," itself used to describe relatively unobtainable super-high-performance sports cars, is unclear, and no doubt the subject of some debate.
But the benefit of packing well in excess of 1,000 horsepower, a seven-figure price tag, and an intended production run in the double digits is that no one has to question whether the car transcends the "supercar" label into the realm of the hypercar. There is no debate.
Hennessey Performance on Tuesday unveiled a true hypercar of the highest order, the Hennessey Venom F5.
The specs are utterly gobsmacking: 1,817 horsepower with 1,193 lb-ft of torque, courtesy of a twin-turbocharged 6.6-liter V8 nicknamed "Fury" that was developed in-house; a dry weight of just 2,998 pounds - about as much as a Kia Optima - thanks to a healthy diet of carbon fiber and more carbon fiber; and a planned production run of 24 units, each wearing a $2.1-million price tag. The sprint from 0 to 124 miles per hour demands a scant 4.7 seconds of your time, and given enough runway, the Hennessey Venom F5 will exceed 311 mph.
At least, 311+ mph is Hennessey's target; the Texas-based firm still doesn't know quite where its new hypercar will top out. There are very few roadways on earth that can support such stratospheric speeds, but the company believes it may have found one of them: NASA's Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida. That's where Hennessey plans to complete top speed testing in the first half of 2021, under the discerning gaze of NASA representatives and members of the automotive press.
But more than just an unfathomably powerful road missile with a record-shattering power-to-weight ratio of 1,298 horsepower per ton, the Hennessey Venom F5 promises to be a "decathlete" of road cars - a machine that delivers on every single conceivable aspect of the driving experience. The RWD hypercar's driving dynamics were honed by racing driver and former GM High Performance Vehicles Director John Heinricy, who has benchmarked some of the best-handling, most engaging cars on the road today - cars like the McLaren 600LT and Porsche Cayman GT4. He's also tasked with perfecting the car's aerodynamics, which were developed using advanced computational fluid dynamics.
On paper, the Venom F5 certainly has all the right tools to deliver a sublime driving experience. At less than 200 pounds, the carbon-fiber tub isn't just light; it's also exceptionally rigid, and unsprung mass has been kept to a minimum with forged alloy wheels and lightweight Penske dampers. Stopping power comes courtesy of carbon-ceramic brakes, and Hennessey took pains to keep the center-of-gravity low by giving the "Fury" V8 dry-sump oiling and shoving it as far down in the car as it would go.
And then, there's the subject of the Venom F5's charisma. Hennessey's bespoke V8 can spin up to 8,200 rpm - or 8,500 rpm in a special performance driving mode dubbed "F5" - which is astoundingly high for a production pushrod V8 with a cross-plane crankshaft. Like any small-block, it has an enchanting growl that swells to an intimidating roar when prodded and abetted by a pair of big 76-mm turbochargers, it lets loose all sorts of pops and bangs at lift-off, underscored by the siren song of those two turbos whistling away loudly under the hood. It's absolutely intoxicating.
"Our team built the Venom F5's 'Fury' V8 motor with one vision - to deliver a unique and unparalleled driving experience," says Hennessey Performance founder and owner John Hennessey. "The engine commands complete respect. It's intimidating - in a good way. It totally dominates the driving experience and keeps goading you to unleash its power, challenging you to tame it."
The new Hennessey Venom F5 is slated to start deliveries in 2021, as the company rings in its 30th anniversary. Put your orders in now.