Six of the fastest cars in the world right now

Fastest car in the world: it's arguably the most coveted mantle in the world of wheels, especially when it comes to supercars.

After all, performance is what it's all about, and to be top of the tree means everything – in bragging rights, at the very least.

Over the years there have been claims and counterclaims from manufacturers as diverse as Ferrari, Porsche, Bugatti and McLaren.

But the competition – and the benchmarks – are heating up.

A measure of speed

Right now there are at least six hypercars available or being developed, with each set to smash records.

Considering it took decades for McLaren's legendary F1 of 1993 to be surpassed, it's an indication of the appetite for cars that do more than anyone could ever want.

Of course, part of the definition of the world's fastest car revolves around exactly what it is that's being measured. Is it top speed, race track lap times or acceleration?

Each could glean a different answer. Therein lies the mystique and intrigue of the world's fastest car.

Aston Martin Valkyrie

The maker of some of the world's most exclusive cars is about to forge headlong into a hypercar battle with its upcoming Valkyrie.

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Announced in Melbourne ahead of the 2016 Australian Grand Prix, the Valkyrie promises to be quicker than a Formula One car around a race track.

There are caveats to the claim. The benchmark F1 car is a 2016 model, before the significant 2017 aerodynamic and tyre changes that dropped crucial seconds from their lap times. It also relies on the cars being tested at the high speed Silverstone race track, where downforce is key and aerodynamics can shine.

Indeed it's aerodynamics that will be crucial to the pace of the Valkyrie. Developed by F1 design guru Adrian Newey, they promise to eclipse any road car before them, endowing the Valkyrie with the ability to pull more than four times the force of gravity (4G) around corners.

Without the strict regulations of F1, Newey has more freedoms to use electronics and active aerodynamics to ensure the car not only meets regulations but is brutally quick doing it.

A 700kW-plus V12 hybrid drivetrain is also part of the deal for a car that will cost somewhere between A$3-5 million.

Bugatti Chiron

But if outright power and top speed are your thing, look no further than the Bugatti Chiron.

The replacement for the Veyron utilises an upgraded version of the 8.0-litre W16 engine that employs four turbochargers to pump out 1103kW of power.

Top speed is limited to a mere 420km/h, mainly because tyre supplier Michelin wasn't happy guaranteeing performance above that. But each year Bugatti organises a customer day at the high speed Volkswagen test track (Bugatti is owned by VW).

Bugatti organises "fine tuned" wheels and tyres and the speed limiter is removed, allowing owners to push well above 420km/h.

Top speed is set to be confirmed in 2018 as part of an official world record run, but estimations have it somewhere around 460km/h.

And the cost of such extravagance? Once translated to Aussie and with our lovely taxes added, amounts to something north of $5 million.

Mercedes-AMG Project One

When it comes to F1 pedigree, none will be able to make claims as bold as the Project One from Mercedes-Benz's performance division, AMG.

The sleek two-seater is dripping with carbon fibre and the sort of aerodynamic smarts typically reserved for a race car.

But it goes one better, using the basic engine from the championship dominating Mercedes F1 machines.

The high revving 1.6-litre V6 turbo will be mated to four electric motors, creating one helluva hybrid setup. Power is expected to be in the region of 800kW.

McLaren BP23

To become part of the modern McLaren "Ultimate Series" – which will one day include an all-electric car – the BP23 has to up the performance of the regular McLarens (including the 720S).

Like the F1, the BP23 seats three people; the driver sits in the centre up front with a passenger slightly behind on either side. And, like the original, the BP23 will be as exclusive as it is fast. Just 106 will be built – matching the number of F1s produced almost a quarter of a century ago.

But that's where the similarities end, because McLaren refers to the BP23 as more of a grand tourer than a race track hero.

Deliveries won't begin until 2019 but already the BP23 is sold out (three times over), each at a cool £1.6 million, plus taxes (about $4 million).

McLaren PR director Wayne Bruce says the car's main case is "crossing continents at extremely high speed and comfort".

Koenigsegg Regera

When it comes to acceleration the Regera has it in spades.

The dash to 400km/h takes just 20 seconds. That's a mighty achievement considering most Porsches, Lamborghinis and Ferraris top out somewhere in the low-to-mid 300km/h range.

Using an innovative direct drive system that pairs a twin turbo V8 with electric motors, the Regera does without a gearbox, helping keep weight down.

With 1100kW of power it promises a mighty wallop, none of which comes cheap; the Regera will be about $3 million, depending on exchange rates.

Produced in Sweden, just 80 Regeras will be built, with one earmarked for Australia.

Nio EP9

Not only the fastest electric car but the fastest production car around a racetrack, at least if you believe the times sprouted from a recent test at the Nurburgring track.

Nio is a Chinese startup specialising in autonomous and electric technology (it has also competed in the Formula E championship, winning the inaugural championship). It has offices in America, England and Germany as well as its head office in China.

The EP9 is its hero machine with 1000kW of power, interchangeable batteries and a claimed range of 427km.

Already the company has built six EP9s (for investors in the company) with plans for another 10, each at US$1.48 million (around $3 million here).

And the rest…

The race to be the fastest won't end there.

Ferrari typically dishes up a hypercar every decade or so. The latest, the LaFerrari, arrived in 2013, so expect another instalment around 2023.

Porsche, too, wheels out low volume multi-million dollar cars every 10 or so years, so a spiritual successor to the 918 Spyder is likely around the same time.

Check out the gallery above to see some of the fastest cars on to hit the road.