Porsche vs BMW vs McLaren: Which is the Fastest?

January 4, 2022
3:54 pm

There are plenty of reasons for buying a Porsche, BMW, or McLaren besides driving like a bat out of hell, but it’s nice to know that your luxury car can rival an Indy car on the track if you have the opportunity.

So which is the fastest of cars, a Porsche, a BMW or a or a McLaren? Are we measuring top speed or accelerating from zero to 60? Before answering the question we need to clarify how the speed is measured. One method is the top speed on presumably an auto track, or if you happen to live in Europe on the Isle of Man or be driving on the Autobahn is pretty much unlimited. For the rest of us, going 150 miles per hour plus, outside of a private track is pretty much prohibited. 

The second way of measuring is usually by measuring the speed that you can accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour. Most people never take the fastest possible street-legal cars at top speed, which is fortunate because surviving an accident at 150 miles plus is slim to none. But the owners love the feel of acceleration that their vehicle provides, and so in practical terms, the real benefit of being able to travel really fast is briefly being able to accelerate quickly.

However, traditionally and since autos began to be mass-manufactured, people have paid attention primarily to the top speed of a vehicle. Top speed is the pinnacle of everything in transportation, whether we are talking the SR-71, the high-speed aerial reconnaissance airplane which traveled at speeds greater than 2,400 miles per hour, the defunct Concorde, or a bullet train in Shanghai or Tokyo. 

So for our purposes, we’ll go with top speed. So how fast does each of our automobiles travel at top speed?

Porsche

Porsche has many models that will travel at speeds above 150 miles per hour, but the king of all Porsche cars, as far as speed is concerned, is the Porsche 918 Spyder, a street-legal car with a top speed of around 214 miles per hour.

Of course, production started in 2013 and stopped in 2015, so if you buy a 918 Spyder now there is no guarantee you will get that type of speed. But fear not, the Porsche 911 S Turbo, still in production, you can count on performance that will take you in and around 202 miles per hour.

BMW

BMWs are known more for their luxurious ride and feel than they are for speed, but they are no slacker in the speed department. But along comes the BMW M-5, a street-legal BNW that will catapult this 4-door sedan at 190 miles per hour. 

So if you happen to live in Germany near the Autobahn, you can really take this baby through its paces. And if you happen to snag a limited edition BMW M5 Jahre, you can push it to speeds of 199 miles per hour. Of course, you won’t get much gas mileage, but at $142,000 or more you can afford it, right?

McLaren

McLaren is known for speed, and the McLaren Speedtail will rocket around the track at speeds up to 250 miles per hour. Of course, the major problem buying a McLaren Speetail is that even if you want to go to Walmart or Home Depot at 40 miles per hour you can’t because in almost every jurisdiction in the world, the McLaren Speedtail is not street legal. You can only drive them on tracks. 

So to be a fair comparison, with the other non-track autos you’ll have to settle for a McLaren 720s, with a top speed of 212 miles per hour.

Reasons NOT to Drive at Top Speed

Acceleration on the highway is one thing and all three types of cars will do that exceedingly well, but there are plenty of reasons why you should not drive at top speed even if your car will go plenty of fast.

First, it's illegal.

In most parts of the world, it’s illegal to drive so fast and the fines for going top speed are extremely expensive.

It’s realistically not safe.

Your ability to avoid other vehicles when you are traveling at 150 miles plus is extremely limited. Most drivers are not trained to drive at such speeds and the potential for an accident is high.

It puts a lot of stress on the car.

Driving at top speeds puts a tremendous amount of stress on the cars, particularly the small engine parts. Do note that in auto races like the Indianapolis 500, only a tiny percentage actually finish the race. Many cars leave the race because of technical problems due to the amount of stress that the race places on the cars.

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