Top 20 most powerful cars – per litre – on sale in Australia

Brett Davis

Every time a new model comes out, no matter which carmaker, the new versions are almost always more powerful than the predecessor. This got us thinking, what are the most powerful cars currently on sale in Australia?

To make it more interesting, we’ll take a look at not just the most powerful outright, but what cars have the highest specific power output; power per litre of engine size.

By looking at it from this angle we can begin to see how carmakers engineer their vehicles, and see who is making best use out of the space given.

20. 88.5kW/litre

Sitting at the end of this top 20 is a couple of vehicles actually, both powered by the new Ford EcoBoost 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. We have the Volvo S60/V60, which uses a Volvo turbocharger, producing 177kW and 320Nm, and the new Range Rover Evoque Si4, where it produces 177kW and 340Nm.

Also delivering this specific power output is the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart (full review). It comes with a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine developing 177kW and 343Nm.

Prices start at $43,890 for both sedan and hatch of the Lancer Ralliart, while Volvo T5 prices start at $51,990 for the S60 sedan and $54,990 for the V60 wagon. The Range Rover Evoque Si4 is available from $60,395.

19. 89.28kW/litre

Next up is the micro machine from Italy, the Alfa Romeo Mito QV flagship. It features a 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder with 125kW and 250Nm. The engine also powers the base model Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

Prices start at $34,990 for the Mito QV.

18. 89.5kW/litre

Although it’s not officially on sale until later this month (UPDATE: now on sale), the humble 2012 Ford Falcon will get a slightly tuned version of the EcoBoost 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine. Power has been rated at 179kW and 353Nm. Acceleration from 0-100km/h has been tested at 7.2 seconds by Australian media.

Prices will start at $37,235 for the XT, and $40,835 for the G6, and $46,735 for the G6E.

17. 90kW/litre

Next up is another 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder. This time from BMW. The engine produces 180kW and 350Nm. It’s available in the BMW Z4 sDrive28i, the new BMW 328i, and the BMW 528i. A detuned version producing 135kW is also available in various ’20i’ models.

Prices start at $66,900 in the BMW 328i. (Full review coming soon.)

16. 90.5kW/litre

A brand synonymous with extracting maximum performance out of the basics, both the Lotus Elise S and Lotus Exige S sit at number 16. They feature a 1.8-litre supercharged four-cylinder Toyota engine with 163kW and 215Nm. Acceleration from 0-100km/h can be managed in just 4.3 seconds in the Exige S.

Prices start at $77,990 for the Elise S, and $79,990 for the Exige S.

15. 91.8kW/litre

Two sporty front-wheel drive cars share this output; the Peugeot RCZ (full review) and the Renault Clio RS. The Peugeot features a potent BMW-PSA 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder with 147kW and 275Nm, while the Renault comes with a 2.0-litre turbo engine producing 147kW and 215Nm.

Prices start at $54,990 for the Peugeot, and $36,490 for the Renault.

14. 92kW/litre

Sitting at number 14 are also two cars, this time the two are a lot less related. The Renault Megane RS, with it’s 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine producing 184kW and 340Nm, and the epic Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0, with its 4.0-litre flat-six engine producing 368kW and 460Nm.

Prices start at $41,990 for the Renault, and $409,100 for the Porsche.

13. 93.6kW/litre

Even though BMW M cars aren’t always all about outright power, the latest and greatest BMW M5 makes its way into 13th spot. It features a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 with 412kW and 680Nm.

Prices start at $230,000.

12. 94kW/litre

Three cars share this engine, two of them are front-wheel drive while the other is all-wheel drive. Yes it’s the Audi S3/Volkswagen Scirocco R/Volkswagen Golf R trio. All feature Volkswagen Group’s 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder with 188kW and 330Nm.

Prices start at $47,490 for the Volkswagen Scirocco R, $48,490 for the Golf R, and $70,900 for the Audi S3.

11. 94.2kW/litre

Sitting in number 11 spot is perhaps one of the best performance entry-level hot hatches around; the highly praised Volkswagen Polo GTI. It comes with a 1.4-litre turbo and supercharged four-cylinder with 132kW and 250Nm, paired up with a DSG auto. It’s available in three- and five-door form.

Prices start at $27,790.

10. 94.4kW/litre

Now that we’re getting towards the pointy end of this countdown, we can expect to see some more serious supercars. Ferrari steps in to start the top 10 with the Ferrari 458. It features a 4.5-litre naturally aspirated V8 with 425kW and 540Nm. The Ferrari 458 is the most powerful car in Australia per litre that isn’t turbo or supercharged.

Prices start at $526,950.

9. 95.7kW/litre

Another surprise in this top 20; the all-new Audi A1 Sport. It comes with a slightly revised version of the 1.4-litre turbo and supercharged four-cylinder, as seen in the Volkswagen Polo GTI. In the Audi it develops 134kW and 250Nm. It’s only available with a seven-speed sports auto, sending power to the front wheels.

Prices start at $42,500.

8. 96.84kW/litre

It’s not the more powerful ‘S’ variant, but the Porsche 911 Turbo is still a very serious bit of gear. It’s powered by a 3.8-litre turbo flat-six with 368kW and 650Nm. It’s available in manual and dual-clutch auto form, and as a coupe and cabriolet.

Prices start at $363,700.

7. 96.87kW/litre

Being the most powerful small/city car around, of course the MINI Cooper John Cooper Works is going to make its way into the top 10. It comes with a tuned version of the Cooper S 1.6-litre PSA-BMW turbo four-cylinder, and produces 155kW and 280Nm. The engine is available in various models, including the normal Cooper, the Cabriolet, Clubman, and the new Coupe and Roadster. It’s also headed for the Countryman at some stage soon.

Prices start at $49,200 for the Cooper S JCW.

6. 97kW/litre

Making up one of the super-lightweight open-top contenders, the Elfin T5 sits at number seven. It comes with a 2.0-litre engine producing 194kW and 351Nm. It might not sound like much, however, the T5 tips the scales at just 780kg, making for an incredible power-to-weight ratio.

Prices start at $69,990.

5. 100kW/litre

It’s equal fifth for two sports Audis. The Audi TT S and it’s bigger brother, the Audi TT RS. The TT S comes with a cracking 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder with 200kW and 350Nm, while the TT RS comes with a barking 2.5-litre turbo five-cylinder with 250kW and 450Nm.

Prices start at $97,364 for the TT S, and $139,900 for the RS.

4. 101.7kW/litre

From here on in you’d expect only the most serious of sports and supercars. Sitting as Australia’s fourth most powerful vehicle (per litre) currently on sale is the Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV. It comes with a 1.7-litre turbo four-cylinder with 173kW and 340Nm. Power is sent through the front wheels via a six-speed manual, with 0-100km/h coming up in 6.8 seconds.

Prices start at $41,990.

3. 102.6kW/litre

Now we’re at the very serious end, with very serious cars. Making it into the top three is the grand daddy Porsche 911 Turbo S. It comes with a tuned version of the 3.8-litre twin-turbo flat-six as seen in the Turbo, producing 368kW and 700Nm. Motoring experts and journalists from around the world have managed to clock 10-second quarter mile times in the beast.

Prices start at $423,300.

2. 106.3kW/litre

Yes, of course the mighty Gozilla would make it in here somewhere near the top. The 2012 Nissan GT-R is one of the quickest accelerating vehicles on sale in Australia, if not the quickest; 0-100km/h in 2.8 seconds. It comes with a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 with 404kW and 628Nm.

Prices start at $170,800.

1. 108.5kW/litre

It might have surprised you but the 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X (full review) is the most powerful vehicle currently on sale in Australia, per litre. It comes with an engine that has, well, evolved over time into a fierce power fist. It’s a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder with 217kW and 366Nm, and can be had matched up to a six-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch auto.

Prices start at $61,190.

Special considerations:

You may notice that many cars in the top 20 are turbocharged or supercharged. This is kind of cheating, as added ‘capacity’ is in the charging. The combustion chamber can only hold a specific amount of volume, however, once an engine is boosted that volume becomes pressurised, and virtually expands.

Another aspect to consider is the rotary engine. The Mazda RX-8, with its twin-rotor 1.3-litre engine actually produces 130.7kW/litre. However, this type of engine is considered to have double its capacity due to a separate combustion chamber and exhaust chamber.

For all the high horsepower fans out there, here’s the shortlist of the most powerful vehicles on sale in Australia, outright:

Lamborghini Aventador – 6.5-litre V12 with 515kW and 690Nm – priced from $754,600
Mercedes-Benz S 65 AMG – 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12 with 463kW and 1000Nm – priced from $499,200
Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG – 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12 with 450kW and 1000Nm – priced from $508,500

Ferrari’s upcoming Ferrari F12, coming to Australia next year, will blow all of these out of the water with its 6.3-litre V12 producing 544kW and 690Nm.

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