List: Top 25 Power-Dense Powerplants

By Brandon Turkus

August 10, 2010

25.

25. BMW Z4 sDrive35iS: 3.0-liter biturbocharged I-6 produces 111.67 horsepower per liter.

24.

24. Mazda Speed3: 2.3-liter turbocharged I-4 produces 114.35 horsepower per liter.

23.

23. Porsche 911 GT3: 3.8-liter flat-six produces 114.47 horsepower per liter.

22.

22. Lexus LF-A: 4.8-liter V-10 produces 115 horsepower per liter.

21.

21. Porsche 911 GT3 RS: 3.8-liter flat-six produces 118.42 horsepower per liter.

20.

20. Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart, Lancer Ralliart: 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 produces 118.50 horsepower per liter.

19.

19. Lotus Elise S/C: 1.8-liter supercharged I-4 produces 121.11 horsepower per liter.

18.

18. Subaru Impreza WRX STI: 2.5-liter flat-four produces 122 horsepower per liter.

17.

17. Bugatti Veyron 16.4: 8.0-liter quadturbocharged W-16 produces 125.13 horsepower per liter.

16.

16. BMW X5M, X6M: 4.4-liter Biturbocharged V-8 produces 126.14 horsepower per liter.

15.

15. Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid: 3.0-liter V-6 produces 126.67 horsepower per liter with an electric motor.

14.

14. Ferrari 458 Italia: 4.5-liter V-8 produces 126.67 horsepower per liter.

13.

13. John Cooper Works Mini Cooper S, Clubman S, Cooper S Convertilbe: 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4 produces 130 horsepower per liter.

12:

12: Porsche 911 Turbo: 3.8-liter biturbocharged flat-six produces 131.58 horsepower per liter.

11.

11. Audi TTS: 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 produces 132.50 horsepower per liter.

10.

10. Lotus Exige S240: 1.8-liter supercharged I-4 produces 133.33 horsepower per liter.

9.

9. Porsche 911 Turbo S: 3.8-liter biturbocharged flat-six produces 139.47 horsepower per liter.

8.

8. Lotus Exige S260: 1.8-liter supercharged I-4 produces 142.78 horsepower per liter.

7.

7. Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X: 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 produces 145.50 horsepower per liter.

6.

6. Bugatti Veyron Super Sport: 8.0-liter quadturbocharged W-16 produces 150 horsepower per liter.

5.

5. Porsche 911 GT2 RS: 3.6-liter biturbocharged flat-six produces 172.22 horsepower per liter.

4.

4. Mazda RX-8: 1.3-liter two-rotor produces 178.46 horsepower per liter.

3.

3. Koenigsegg Agera: 4.7-liter twin-supercharged V-8 produces 193.62 horsepower per liter.

2.

2. SSC Ultimate Aero: 6.3-liter biturbocharged V-8 produces 204.29 horsepower per liter.

1.

1. Koenigsegg CCXR: 4.7-liter twin-supercharged FlexFuel V-8 produces 216.60 horsepower per liter.

25. 24. 23. 22. 21. 20. 19. 18. 17. 16. 15. 14. 13. 12: 11. 10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1.

Power density may not be in the lexicon of the average gearhead, but this idea is arguably as important as power-to-weight ratios and zero-to-sixty times. Power density, also known as specific engine output, is the amount of power produced by each liter the engine displaces. It is expressed in terms of horsepower per liter (hp/L). Automakers, especially those of performance vehicles, strive to hit the magical 100 horsepower-per-liter mark, which is where the recognized range of serious sports cars start.

Actually, thanks to OEM’s newfound love of turbocharging small-displacement engines, we seem to be entering a new golden age for power density. Ford’s new EcoBoost four, that is powering the upcoming Explorer, for instance, is a great example of a motor in a non-performance vehicle that would have made our list if it were on sale today. These are exciting times.

Here then, are the top twenty-five cars that not only break the 100 horsepower-per-liter mark, but greatly exceed it.

+ WR Classic Video: 2007 Mazdaspeed3

+ WR Classic Video: Porsche GT3 vs. BMW M3 vs. Audi R8

+ WR Classic Video: Lotus Sport 2-Eleven