While the cars we drive to work and to the shops are themselves fine examples of automotive engineering, for the pinnacle of technical excellence you need to turn to racing and sports cars in their many forms. Check out five examples of the very best.
The Red Bull RB7 racing car. In the 2011 Formula One season, this was the dominant car, by far the best racing car on the circuit, winning both the individual driver’s title and also the constructor’s championship.
The RB7’s achievements were the result of continual development and innovation such as the introduction of its exhaust-blown diffuser, the addition of floor holes and special electronic engine maps that squeezed every ounce of power from the car’s 2.4 litre engine. Often these technical improvements had to be refined in the one to two week window between races.
The Bugatti Veyron Supersport. In just a few short years, with its stunning styling and awesome performance, this magnificent road car has become a legend. For those brave enough and with the space to do so, the Veyron can unleash a top speed of no less than 267mph, reaching the 60 mile an hour mark in just 2.4 seconds from a standing start. Recognised as the fastest road car ever made, to buy one of these phenomenal vehicles you would have to part with £1.6 million!
The McClaren F1 road car is widely regarded as the ultimate super car, eclipsing the likes of legendary names such as Ferrari and Lamborghini. It first went into production some twenty years ago and some say it is still the most beautiful car ever built. With a top speed of just 241mph it may not match the Veyron for pace, but with a price tag as high as £2.5 million, when it comes to cost it leaves the Veyron standing.
The Audi R18 e-tron Quattro is the first of a new breed of hybrid that is making inroads into the world of motor sport, this year winning the world’s most famous endurance car race – the Le Mans 24 Hour. To achieve success in a race that can last for over 3,000 miles, Audi engineers and drivers have to balance the quest for speed with the careful management of fuel, tyres, engine, transmission and brakes.
The Citroen DS3 WRC may be the nearest amongst this list to the vehicle that you and I drive, but in the hands of its driver, eight time world rally champion, Sébastien Loeb, it’s anything but. Unlike the other cars, which are designed to be driven on the road or flat race circuits, the DS3 has to combine speed, endurance and robustness to withstand the battering it gets from hurtling along narrow unmade forest tracks, being flung round hairpin bends, and the impact of landing after taking off over hump-back bridges!
And while these high performance cars may seem far removed from the family saloon, the engineering effort that goes into them ripples back to make the cars that we drive, safer, better and more efficient.