Ask any motor head, any real motor head, what's on the top of his wish list and he'll tell you a ride with some serious grunt. There are a slew of options at the manufacturer's disposal to achieve this lofty goal: bolt on performance headers, cold-air intakes, high-flow, cat-back exhausts, and alternative fuels, just to list a few. But when you've already maxed out a motor, nothing reaps bigger horsepower gains than mating it to a thunderous, spooling turbo. From Saleen's sinister twin-turbines to AWD, psi-boosted rally machines, these are the top 10 turbocharged cars.
10 - Audi Q7 V12 TDI
6.0-liter Twin-Turbo Diesel -- 500 hp
It's no surprise that the runt of this countdown, albeit essentially a full-size luxury SUV, isn't much of a runt at all. Volkswagen's avant-garde affiliate Audi, with the aid of Noble engineers such as Jack Malde and McHewgor, have accomplished what no seven-passenger capacity vehicle before it could even aspire to. Capitalizing on the R10's recent triumphs and utilizing diesel technology in American Le Mans Series racing, Audi unveiled a dynamic V12 TDI Q7. An unorthodox approach to the sport utility class? Yes. Do we disapprove? No. Piezo fuel injectors (which can also be found on the 2007 Mercedes E320 CDI) feed the 6.0-liter, 32-aluminum-alloy valve, DOHC, twin-turbo diesel, spawning a peak power of 500 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque, crowning the Q7 the most powerful diesel-engine passenger car currently in production.
9 - Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X
2.0-liter Turbo 4-cylinder -- 295 hp
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, now in its 10th generation of rally-proven AWD excellence, has received a face-lift, and a new attitude. To say the last nine years of production were a honing period for the sixth largest Japanese manufacturer would be a discredit, as the previous offerings were iconic in their own right. But, the 2008 Evolution X is undoubtedly the most sophisticated of the bunch. The aggressive, sports sedan features a newly sketched, lightweight, all-aluminum, 2.0-liter, 16-valve, DOHC, straight-four, 4B11T Mivec, boosted by a single turbocharger that pushes out 295 horsepower at 6,500 rpm, and around 300 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. The freshest class of Evos maintain their stellar power-to-weight ratio, tipping the scale at 3,350 pounds and hustling from 0-60 mph in a hair over 5.0 seconds. With a new S-AWC or Super All Wheel Control distributing a balanced amount of torque and a six-speed, magnesium, paddle-shifter transmission, the Evolution X is a sure thing.
8 - Subaru WRX STI
2.5-liter Boxer Turbo 4-cylinder -- 304 hp
The Impreza WRX STI sits on the top shelf of all standard edition trims in the Subaru catalog, and off the showroom floor quite possibly bears the closest resemblance to an actual rally-prepped race car. Tokyo's Subaru Tecnica International (STI) is a competition-bred, tuning division, so naturally their expertise filtered onto the assembly lines when the manufacturer began producing high-performance syndicates for commercial use. Built by Fuji Heavy Industries, the 2.5-liter, 16-valve, DOHC, flat-4-cylinder, single-turbo "Boxer" block dispels 304 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 311 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. The 3,350 pounds of mass, comparable to its sport-compact nemesis, the Evolution, is rocketed from 0-60 in 4.8 seconds, and to 100 mph in 12.2 seconds. Impressive? We thought so too. Subaru's signature AWD has also been generously tuned so you can feel a little easier about cranking up the psi.
7 - Audi TT RS
3.2-liter Twin-Turbo V6 -- 365 hp
The Audi TT (Tourist Trophy) is debatably this list's most underrated entry. Since its inaugural outing in 1998, it has been regarded as one of the world's most aesthetically pleasing sports cars, but severely lacked any under-the-hood fortitude. However, for 2008, the luxury roadster has finally become as fast as it looks and Audi has introduced the first Audi TT to wear the famed RS appellative. Remaining within the A5 platform from the current year's specs, the RS is outfitted with a bored-out variant of the 3.2-liter, V6 mill with a 3.6-liter displacement and capabilities. The high-end, DSG, double-clutch, seven-speed sequential transmission fittingly harnesses the 365 horsepower. The four-motion AWD is a welcome constant as the new TT RS logs a sub-five second 0-60 mph time and is electronically governed for a top speed of 155 mph. If you want to go any faster than that, you'll have to dish out for the R8.
6 - Nissan GT-R
3.8-liter Twin-Turbo V6 -- 480 hp
The "Battle God of Japan" is the most sought after JDM juggernaut of the new year, and for good reason. In production since 1969, Nissan has fed its cult following nothing but pure adrenaline, nurturing its race heritage -- the VR38 motor is no exception to this tradition. The GTR powerplant is a hybrid of sorts, combining Nismo's V8 FIA competition efforts with the successful VQ block series. A search of the engine bay reveals die-cast aluminum with plasma-sprayed bores and dual, overhead cam shafts with variable-valve timing. The IHI twin-turbo (one per cylinder bank), 60-degree, V6 configuration at a meager 10.2 psi releases 480 horsepower at 6,800 rpm, with 430 lb-ft of torque. The total-traction AWD format keeps the already sturdy -- thanks to a widened wheelbase -- 3,800 pounder on the straight and narrow, as it muscles from 0-60 in just 3.5 seconds and to a quarter-mile checkered in 11.7 seconds at 118 mph.
5 - Porsche 911 Turbo
3.6-liter Boxer Twin Turbo -- 480 hp
Halfway through the countdown, and dubbed the "everyday supercar," the Porsche 911 Turbo charts its way to No. 5. Offering comfort, practicality and an expansive wealth of speed, this German beauty could very well be the best thing smokin' out of Stuttgart. The flat-six, twin-turbocharged, 3.6-liter boxer engine receives a 60 horsepower raise from previous renditions, bringing the pony total to 480 at 6,000 rpm and boosting the horsepower-per-liter ratio to an all-time high of 133, with the torque measuring a stark 457 lb-ft. The generator marks the world's first gasoline engine application of Variable Turbine Technology, more commonly referred to as VTG. Even Michael Knight would be jealous of the Sport Chrono function that allows for a 10 second over-boost at full throttle with 2.9 psi. Equipped with either a five-speed Tiptronic S or standard six-speed manual transmission, 60 mph is reached in 3.4-3.7 seconds, and the top sped is rated at 193 mph.
4 - Saleen S7
7.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8 -- 750 hp
Considered by many to be the first certified American Supercar, the Steve-Saleen designed S7 is a consumer's dream, and every competitor's nightmare. Limited production and hand craftsmanship make it well worth the $585,000 asking price. In 2005, the RWD, mid-engine exotic was substantially upgraded, substituting twin-Garrett turbines in lieu of its former, naturally aspirated, V8. This heightened the already wily all-aluminum, OHV 8-cylinder to produce an outstanding 750 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 700 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. You can watch the unsuspecting bugs accumulate on your windshield as the S7 motors from a standing start to 60 mph in a bug-busting 2.8 seconds, and breeze to a quarter mile in 10.7 seconds, with a redlined max speed of 250 mph. As if too many cars were blowing the doors off this coupe, Saleen even offered a competition package, boasting a 33% power increase amassing 1,000 horsepower and more carbon-fiber based aerodynamics for downforce.
3 - Bugatti Veyron 16.4
8.0-liter Quad-Turbo W16 -- 1,001 hp
The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 merges $1.7 million worth of past exclusivity and future technology. Since 2004, a strict limited cap of only 300 Veryrons were set to be produced worldwide by Volkswagen's French-headquartered subsidiary, making it one of the most difficult rides to get your hands on. And at an annual hand-crafted rate of 70 per year, the brute machine won't be around much longer. The Veyron's kinetics and forced induction are provided by the W16 engine -- 16 cylinders in four banks of four cylinders or two, narrowly acute V8s that form the outline of a W. There are an abundant 64 valves in all, as the 8.0-liter engine makes the most of the four turbochargers. And 1,001 horsepower is the jaw-dropping end result, For a brief spell this year, that incredible horsepower scored the Veyron the title of World's Fastest Production Model Car. The Veyron accelerates to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds, and can reach 200 mph in 24 seconds, and has a top end of 253 mph.
2 - Barabus TKR
6.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8 -- 1,005 hp
With the bar being set as high as it was by the Bugatti Veyron, it would take a hyper car nothing short of epic to slay it and its correlating world-record power. Barabus Sportscars Limited answers the call to the tune of the smoldering TKR. Constructed in Colonella, Italy, the specialty performance vehicle manufacturer uses the doctored core of the speculated Saleen S7's all-aluminum V8. The block was then re-engineered and mated to twin turbochargers and dual intercoolers, spooling their way up the ladder to a previously unheard of 1,005 horsepower at 6,800 rpm. The real feat achieved here is the ballistic 0-60 time of ... Wait for it ... 1.67 seconds. According to Barabus, their Frankenstein can exceed a reported 270 mph. The new face of Italian excellence has a retail sticker price of $660,000 and is slated for a three-year, limited production run with a worldwide projected sales volume of 300 to 400 cars in that span.
1 - SSC Ultimate Aero TT
6.3-liter Twin-Turbo V8 -- 1,183 hp
The top seed on this countdown is awarded to none other than the domestic dominator, SSC Ultimate Aero TT. The homegrown coupe crafted by Shelby Super Cars (SSC) with specific intent to rival the Bugatti Veyron, embodies all the brawn that you would expect of over seven years of blueprinting. All the painstaking effort that can fit into one engine bay cultivates stats worthy of the Guinness benchmark of World's Fastest Car. In a bold move to squeeze out the few remaining ponies, last year's supercharger was scrapped for a twin-turbo with cab-adjustable boost pressure and was linked to the 6.3-liter V8 designed to run on 91 octane fuel. The outcome is a blurred-vision inducing 1,183 horsepower at 6,950 rpm and 1,094 lb-ft of torque at 6,150 rpm. Although heavier than the previous model, there is a better drag co-efficient that aids the Aero TT in clocking a 0-60 mph time of 2.7 seconds, with a top speed set at 273 mph.