Regardless of what automotive camp you fall into, the Detroit Auto Show was inarguably an exciting event for just about everyone. Supercars, high-performance trucks, EVs, and more all made appearances, and there were many (like, many) surprises in store. While auto shows around the world generally feature a wide array of automotive representation, Detroit seems generally focused on two things: Power and speed. And this year didn’t disappoint.
After a quick rundown of all the players, we’ve take some of the most powerful cars that bowed beneath the spotlights and have listed them here, in ascending order. As a side note, we didn’t intend for this list to be a comprehensive one, and we took into account what the vehicle’s significance to its brand would be (for example, Mini is not going to produce a 550 horsepower hatchback, but the most powerful Mini ever was present in Detroit).
8. Mini Hardtop John Cooper Works
Everything is, as they say, relative. And though 228 horsepower doesn’t sound like a whole lot, it is for the car it’s produced from — the Mini Cooper Hardtop. Specifically, the John Cooper Works model. That’s about 20 more ponies than the last iteration, and it puts it at about 18 more than its principle rival, the Volkswagen GTI. There isn’t a whole lot of info out there on the most powerful factory Mini yet (we know it’ll have Brembo brakes and sticky tires, also an electronic differential), but we know for sure that it will be fun.
7. Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS
In its never-ending quest to fill every conceivable gap in its lineup, Porsche has introduced the 911 Targa 4 GTS. It sports 424 horsepower to slot nicely between the 911 Targa 4S and the 911 Turbo. It’s output — from Porsche’s lovely 3.8 liter flat-six — isn’t the pinnacle of Porsche’s performance ability, but it makes the GTS one of the most powerful non-turbo 911 available.
6. Lexus GS-F
With the BMW M3 and Mercedes E63 AMG in its crosshairs, the Lexus GS-F has lofty ambitions and a lengthy checklist of items to cover. And while it delivers a respectable 467 horsepower from its 5.0 liter V8, it’s not quite the 560 or 577 horsepower that German super sedan enthusiasts are used to. Instead, Lexus has gone for a leaner approach, and the weight advantage on its European counterparts should be noted. However, it’s a solid start, and much of the car’s brilliance will come down to how it drives; then, though, there’s the Cadillac CTS-V to consider.
5. Ford Mustang GT350R
You’ve got your 300 horsepower base-Mustang. Then there’s your 310 horsepower EcoBoost, and a void until the 435 horsepower V8-powered GT. Then you’ll have your Mustang GT350, but if you’re needing more, Ford has made sure that you’re covered with the reveal of the Mustang GT350R, a track-happy case of muscle-car mayhem. Ford-ordained power stats have yet to be released, but the company promises more than 500 horsepower and 400 pound-feet. Coupled with an additional 130 or so pounds in weight savings, and you’ve got a real fighter for the Camaro Z/28.
4. Acura NSX
This year’s show in Detroit saw the long-anticipated resurrection of the Acura NSX, a car of legendary fame and stature that has been out of production since 2005. After several conceptual appearances, the production version finally made its appearance, in it’s full 500-plus hybrid spec. Like the Mustang, we don’t have official figures yet, but we know for certain that the Acura brand seriously needed a halo car of this magnitude.
3. Ford GT
Perhaps the biggest draw and largest surprise from the show was the introduction of the new Ford GT. It looks the part of a supercar in every way, and a 600 horsepower — at minimum — EcoBoost V6 will ensure that the GT is every bit the successor it needs to be. It looks mean, but the GT has a grander purpose: To introduce Ford back into the world of high-performance racing, and to serve as a new halo vehicle and showcase for the potential of its EcoBoost engines. Needless to say, it didn’t disappoint.
2. Cadillac CTS-V
The automotive world braced itself for a new CTS-V from Cadillac, and with the outgoing model rocking a reasonable 556 horsepower, the stakes were high. It’s unclear, though, if anyone was prepared for what hit the web prior to its Detroit Debut: The 640 horsepower, Corvette Z06 power-derived monster that has set a new benchmark for luxury sedans.
1. Tesla Model S P85D
It’s not the most powerful luxury car, but for the money, it’s hard to top Tesla’s 691-horsepower, all-wheel drive EV rockstar. Coupled with 864 pound-feet of torque (that’s the kind of twist you find in construction equipment), the Model S P85D — which although is available for sale, is making its first auto show debut (we’re not counting Tesla’s proprietary presentation).