Buying a fast car today is shockingly easy: in top V-6 spec, even the stolid, workaday Toyota Camry will hit 129 mph—and that’s an electronically-limited top speed. But, like the difference between your self-professed Crossfit “athlete” friend and, say, an Olympic wrestler, it’s one thing to be ready for an autobahn sprint at a moment’s notice and another to hold the title of Fastest Car in the World. At the most elite level, current numbers even for production cars are approaching the ludicrous: zero-to-60 mph times are thumping on the two-second floor, and whereas it took more than a century after the invention of the automobile to hit the 200-mph mark in a road-legal production car (that honor belonging to the Ferrari F40, which in 1987 topped out at a tick over 202 mph), just thirty years after that the new Bugatti Chiron can reportedly go straight from the dealer showroom to 261 mph—suggesting 300 mph is not too far down the road.
So, who’s making cars go as fast as they can possibly go while still offering things like air conditioning and stereos and, you know, warranties? It’s a list of who’s-who in the high-end European performance car world, with familiar names like Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Bugatti. No surprises there, though the appearance of one rejuvenated, iconic supercar from a stalwart Detroit badge was a pleasant surprise.
To keep things on the level, there are some conditions for inclusion on this list. First, it has to be a street-legal production car (by reasonable definition) from a major manufacturer—so a low-volume or limited edition version of an existing car is fine, but a one-off or aftermarket-tuned experiment doesn’t count, nor does a dedicated track specialist like, say, a Ferrari FXX K. Next, it has to be new: only model year 2017 cars or newer will be considered. Last, since this is a broad survey of the current state of speed, only one car from a given brand will be included; if a badge has several vehicles that could conceivably make this 205-mph-and-up list, only the fastest vehicle will rank.