We’ve all seen cars on the road that make our jaws drop and our eyes light up. Even for those of us that aren’t too into cars, there have been times where a Lamborghini, Ferrari, or McLaren have passed us by, and that eye-catching design and low rumble of the engine pull us in with tractor beam precision. And while we can easily spot the performance differences between a Cadillac CTS and a Porsche 918 Spyder, what exactly sets them apart? Well, we’re here to set the record straight. By observing the changes in performance, design, technology, and price, it becomes easy to spot the differences between a sports car, supercar, and a hypercar.
The definition of a sports car may change depending on who you talk to but generally speaking there are some specific traits that define this category. Typically, a sports car will be a small, lightweight, aerodynamic two-seater, with high maneuverability and a low center of gravity compared to standard models. Many of them, like the Chevrolet Corvette or the Mazda MX-5 will have a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. Others may have a rear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout like a Honda NSX or a rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout like Porsche. For a while, very few sports cars used four-wheel drive, which was known to add a lot of weight. Now, however, many performance cars are known to use four-wheel drive often.
Looks wise, sports cars are sleek, aerodynamically built, speed machines. But even with a top speed of over 175, and a price tag usually between 60k and 200k sports cars are still the bottom tier of the performance car world.
Next up, we’ve got supercars. Supercars reach well beyond the boundaries of sports cars in terms of speed, technology, design, and of course, price. They tend to be a little harder to handle than your average sports car, boast million-dollar price tags, and they typically have over 500 horsepower. But to qualify as a supercar, not all of these conditions have to be met. The Chevrolet Z06 is unbelievably fast, has a sleek, aerodynamic design, yet costs $80,000. So while it may not be the price of some of its supercar counterparts, it could certainly still qualify as one. One of the more quirky supercars is the Ariel Atom V8. This little car can reach unbelievable speeds, yet is not the most aesthetically pleasing or the most expensive. So while supercars are normally defined as being stellar in terms of performance, price, design, and technology, a car may not have to meet all this criteria to qualify for this category.
Most supercars that you will come across will be mid-engined, though cars like the Corvette Z06 and the Dodge Viper are front engine. Additionally they are two of the only supercars to utilize a manual transmission, as most of them nowadays use either paddle shifters or a direct-shift gearbox (DSG).
Now we come to hypercars: the upper echelon of performance road cars. These cars have to hit every characteristic on our supercar checklist. They must be insanely fast, have gorgeous design, implement the best in technology, and be ridiculously expensive. Remember that all hypercars are supercars, but not all supercars are hypercars. A Ferrari 458 or a McLaren 570S are amazing supercars, but they can’t match the technological superiority of a Bugatti Chiron or a Koenigsegg Agera R.
Literally everything about a hypercar is “next level”. Unless you are a seasoned driver, handling one of these things could present potentially catastrophic problems. They are sensitive to the touch, they are out-of-this world expensive (with the majority on the market being well over one million dollars), and they can barely contain their own speeds making the nearly impractical for public roads.
Like supercars, the majority of hypercars will be mid-engined like the Porsche 918 Spyder, the McLaren P1, and the Ferrari La Ferrari. However, there are some that may even include the front-engined Aston Martin One-77 on their list of hypercars due to the high price and the erratic feel. But regardless of engine placement, hypercars are certain to feature paddle shifters as opposed to a manual transmission or a DSG.
The performance car universe is vast and diverse. From an Audi TTS or a Porsche 911 Carrera, to a Ferrari 488, to a Pagani Huayra, these cars achieve unbelievable feats in terms of performance, design, technology, and cost. They are the best of the best, expertly crafted, and long to be revered. And while some may view the supercars and hypercars of the world as a bit excessive, there’s no doubt that whenever one passes by, they are sure to turn heads.
If you’ve been wanting to get your feet wet in the world or performance vehicles check out what we have to offer online, where you can find your perfect sports car that can be delivered right to your door.