The definition of a supercar may have changed over the past two decades, but that fact hardly makes the metal content that makes up this class any less sensational.
Here, it’s the world’s greatest mid-engined, upper-level performance machines we’re celebrating: not the very highest echelon of the performance car market, but rather the kind of cars you think about when you picture a modern Ferrari, McLaren or Lamborghini.
Topping this class means demonstrating that your designers and engineers can master an inherently tricky dynamic brief, stand the heat of particularly intense competition, and satisfy some of the most demanding customers in motordom.
1. McLaren 720S
The McLaren 720S has succeeded where both of its predecessors (650S and MP4-12C) fell short in our supercar class chart: purely and simply, by topping it.
There are few more direct or effective ways for cars in this stratum of the performance car market to demonstrate their superiority than by accelerating faster, lapping quicker and stopping harder than any rival: the 720S does all three. In many of the performance benchmarks road testers are used to measuring, in fact, this 710bhp blockbuster is a closer match for a contemporary hypercar than one of its mid-engined opponents.
But it’s also uncommonly communicative and easy to drive; is a supreme ergonomic achievement; and flatters a rambunctious track style more rewardingly than any of its Woking predecessors.
2. Ferrari 488 GTB
It took a car from what felt like another dimension of outright pace and purposefulness to depose Maranello’s excellent 488 GTB from its glorious former perch in this class. Even now there are some at Autocar HQ who prefer the more bombastic character, more dramatic-sounding turbo V8 engine and more indulgent limit handling manners of Ferrari’s take on the supercar concept than McLaren’s quicker but more single-minded one.
The 488 was a giant leap forward for its maker when it emerged in 2015: a mid-engined purist’s feast that switched from atmospheric engine aspiration to twin-turbocharging, and exploded class norms for performance while seeming to sacrifice so little on sonic V8 charisma or handling delicacy. On testing road surfaces, the car’s super-quick steering and firm suspension can make it highly strung. But on the circuit it’s nothing short of sensational.