My, how time flies. The last time we did a roundup of the most powerful naturally aspirated cars on the market, we expressed concern the age of the free-breather was on the way out in the wake of the rising tide of forced induction. Compared to five years ago, we’re missing “all-motor” sweethearts like the Dodge Viper and the Ferrari 458 Speciale, but we’re still blessed with a cornucopia of big, lumpy, thumpin’ American (and other) V-8s sans blower or snail.
We’re also pleased to report this is quite the multicultural list, with at least one entry from nearly every major automotive production country that offers cars Stateside. As far as we can tell, only the U.K. and Sweden weren’t invited, though if Aston Martin manages to get the Valkyrie hypercar with its no-turbos V-12 into customer’s hands, we’ll be sure to include it on the next list.
Honorable Mention: Genesis G80/G90
The buttery 5.0-liter Tau V-8 in the Genesis G80 and Genesis G90 just missed the power cut-off for the top 15, but we would be remiss if we left South Korea’s only V-8 off this list. With a strong 420 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque, it’s the perfect range-topping engine for the G80 and G90 executive sedans. The recently updated G90 still packs the Tau, but if you want it in the smaller, nimbler G80, get your order in now, as the refreshed 2021 G80 drops the V-8.
Honorable Mention: Chevrolet Camaro LT1/SS
Even if it lands at number 16, how could we not have this on the list? It’s a good time to be a muscle car enthusiast, as you’ll see from the rest of this list. It’s crazy how this, the least powerful of the “big three”—Camaro SS, Mustang GT, Challenger Scat Pack—still musters a mighty 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque. Well, that’s the Chevy small block for you. Want SS power but on a tighter budget? Don’t forget Chevy makes a discount V-8-powered SS-lite in the form of the new Camaro LT1 that starts around $34,000.
Honorable Mention: Lexus GS F
We would love to officially include the excellent Lexus GS F and its 467-hp 5.0-liter V-8 on this list, but its recent discontinuation precludes it from a ranking score. However, if you hurry, we bet you could still find a showroom-fresh GS F before inventory dries up.
Ford Mustang GT
The indomitable mainstay of modern muscle, the Mustang GT has never been healthier than it is in 2020, with 460 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque from its 5.0-liter Coyote V-8.
Ford Mustang Bullitt
Thanks to the intake manifold from a GT350, bigger throttle body, and an open airbox, the 5.0-liter V-8 jumps to 480 hp in the lean, green Mustang Bullitt.
It’s no secret we’re big fans of the sickeningly pretty LC500—we did name it an Automobile All-Star, after all—but much of that adoration fixates on the excellent 2UR-GSE 5.0-liter V-8 with 471 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque.
Lexus RC F
Just inching out the LC500 is little brother RC F. It gets the same 5.0-liter V-8, just with an extra pony thrown on top for good measure, bringing the RC F’s output to 472 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque.
Dodge Durango SRT/Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
You know we live in a golden age of horsepower when you can stroll into a dealership and drive off in a five- or seven-seat do-everything family hauler with a pavement-cracking 6.4-liter V-8 up front. In both SRT SUVs, that means 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque.
Dodge Challenger/Charger R/T Scat Pack
Arguably the best bang for your buck on this list, Dodge’s Scat Packs are truly the closest modern interpretation of the classic muscle car, with handling and a curb weight more in line with those boulevard bruisers of yore. Oh, and power, too; both share a 6.4-liter V-8 rated for 485 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque. An automatic transmission is your only choice in the Charger, but if you don’t need four doors, we highly suggest sampling the Challenger Scat Pack with the stick.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray (C8)
Long a shining example of naturally aspirated power, the mid-mounted LT2 small-block V-8 in the new Corvette Stingray stuns with 495 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. If you’re holding out for an even more hi-po turbo-less variant, well, sorry—all signs point to forced induction for the forthcoming Z06/Zora variants.
Porsche 911 Speedster
We’d love to include the 911 GT3 and GT3 RS on this list—considering they share the same engine with the Speedster—but there aren’t any available for the 2020 model year, so the Speedster is the only 911 on this list. That doesn’t mean you can pick one up at your local dealer, as all Speedsters have been spoken for as of this writing, but you can still daydream about that 4.0-liter flat six that screams out 502 hp and 346 lb-ft of torque.
Ford Mustang Shelby GT350/GT350R
Of all the mighty V-8s on this list, the 8,200-rpm, flat-plane crank, 5.2-liter Voodoo V-8 in the current GT350 is one of the most alluring. With a unique soundtrack that’s a combination of American roar and European wail, it’s hard to imagine 526 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque sounding much better.
Every V-10 is a blessing, so we’re tickled Audi still offers its sublime R8 with ten free-breathing cylinders. In the regular R8, that 5.2-liter V-10 is capped at 562 hp and 413 lb-ft, while the hottest R8 Performance cranks it up to 612 hp and 428 lb-ft.
Lamborghini Huracan Evo
Now we’re really getting into the exotic stuff. It’s good to see Lambo is still the largest champion of natural aspiration, having never offered forced induction on any of its production cars until the current Urus SUV arrived. The Huracan Evo is no exception, as its 5.2-liter V-10—shared with the above Audi R8—uses no assistance to suck in that delicious atmosphere. With upgrades pilfered from the hotter Huracan Performante, 631 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque is on-tap.
Leave it to Ferrari and Lamborghini to stay at the top of the naturally aspirated power charts. That won’t last forever, though; looking at Ferrari’s endless march toward forced induction and hybridization, it’s time may soon be up. Until then, enjoy the 681 hp and 516 lb-ft from the 6.3-liter V-12 in the 2 + 2 GTC4 Lusso. Be careful not to tack a “T” to the end of the Lusso, as that will get you the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 variant.
Lamborghini Aventador S
You knew the big Lambos had to be the naturally aspirated power kings. The Aventador S is the weakest of the family, nonetheless sporting a stunning 730 hp and 509 lb-ft of torque from its ludicrous 6.5-liter V-12. At a $417,000, it’s also the cheapest way to slide into a new V-12 Lambo.
Lamborghini Aventador SVJ
Number two on the naturally aspirated power rankings is the Aventador SVJ and its 759 hp and 531 lb-ft of torque. Same 6.5-liter V-12 as the Aventador S, same otherworldly V-12 scream.
Ferrari 812 Superfast
Here it is—the most powerful naturally aspirated production car on the planet. The 812’s 6.5-liter V-12 spits out a tremendous 789 and 530 lb-ft of torque, enough for a 0-60 run of 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 211 mph. As you’d imagine, it’s one of the greatest cars ever made by any metric—so sublime, in fact, we named it an Automobile All-Star in 2019.
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