Every manufacturer advertises a horsepower figure for their vehicles—the metric is among car guys’ and gals’ favorites to argue over. That is why we always try and put those power figures to the test, at least when it comes to the hottest new performance cars on the market. The 2020 Chevy Corvette C8 was the latest test subject to visit a dynamometer—a machine that measures a car’s power using rollers spun by its drive wheels. The numbers we recorded were inflated due to incorrect settings for the dyno, but after running some follow-up tests we still believe the C8 was making every one of its rated 495 ponies—perhaps even more. We can’t say for sure until we get more C8 Corvettes on the dyno for testing, however. If that happens and we can confirm it does make more horsepower on a correctly set dyno, the C8 wouldn’t be the first car to do so. In this list we’ve gathered seven performance cars that have outperformed their horsepower ratings on a dyno, with both the advertised horsepower (as measured at the engine’s crankshaft, not the rear wheels) and the actual figures we recorded (again, adjusted for output at the crank) listed below. If there’s a takeaway from this group and its over-achieving engines, today’s performance cars likely are making more horsepower than their makers advertise. And that’s a good thing.
1. 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8
Advertised output: 495 horsepower
Dyno-measured output: Inconclusive
The newest dyno-tested performance car on our list is the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8. It proved somewhat controversial, to say the least, after our initial dyno results indicated that the mid-engine Corvette, factory-rated for 495 horsepower (with an optional performance exhaust) was putting down north of 600 horsepower at the crankshaft. A thorough investigation revealed that the dynamometer we used was set incorrectly, but some quick math suggests that, if the machine had been set properly, the C8 is making somewhere closer to 500-ish horsepower, only slightly above what Chevy claims. Regardless, the newest ‘Vette clearly uses all of its 6.2-liter LT2 V-8’s might—our test numbers show that the sports car is capable of reaching 60 mph in only 2.8 seconds.
2. 2020 Toyota Supra
Advertised output: 335 horsepower
Dyno-measured output: 390 horsepower
We’re gonna let you in on a little secret: The new Toyota Supra is, underneath, essentially a BMW. OK, so that is a bit of an open secret, just as it’s an open secret that BMW occasionally massively underrates the power of its engines. Given how the Supra uses a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six sourced from BMW, one that’s factory rated at a mere 335 horsepower, you can bet that it’s probably making more horsepower in real life. Like, a lot more. Lo and behold, a trip to our dyno proved that the 2020 Supra’s six-cylinder engine puts down a massive 390 ponies!
3. 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
Advertised output: 526 horsepower
Dyno-measured output: 581 horsepower
Frankly, it doesn’t really matter how much horsepower the 5.2-liter “Voodoo” V-8 engine in the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 makes. It’s the noise the engine belts out that really counts, thanks to the motor’s Ferrari-aping flat-plane crankshaft and high-revving nature. But since we’re here talking about dyno pulls and horsepower figures, it is worth mentioning that the GT350’s V-8 threw down 581 horsepower during its dyno visit. That’s 55 more ponies than Ford says you get.
4. 2019 Porsche 911 Carrera S 992
Advertised output: 443 horsepower
Dyno-measured output: 487 horsepower
When Porsche most recently updated its iconic 911 sports car, switching the model designation from 991 to 992, we grabbed a Racing Yellow Carrera S example and raced it to our dyno. According to Porsche, the Carrera S’s upgraded twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter flat-six engine produces 443 horsepower (compared to 379 ponies in the non-S Carrera). As it turns out, Porsche is slightly conservative with its horsepower figure for the 2019 911 Carrera S—just as the company tends to be with its estimates for acceleration times and other performance metrics. Strapped to a dyno, the Carrera S proved its engine makes a healthy 487 horsepower, 44 more than the factory claims.
5. 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Advertised output: 455 horsepower
Dyno-measured output: 466 horsepower
Back in 2015, when Chevrolet last overhauled the Camaro—beyond a light refresh, as occurred for 2019—our friends at Hot Rod brought it to the dyno to check in on its 6.2-liter small-block V-8. The results were modest, at least compared to the wilder horsepower disparities found elsewhere on this list: 466 horsepower, as opposed to the 455 (with an optional exhaust system) that Chevrolet claims the Camaro SS makes.
6. 2015 BMW M3
Advertised output: 425 horsepower
Dyno-measured output: 435 horsepower
As mentioned in our Supra entry above, BMW engines occasionally put down way, way more power than advertised. So, when the last BMW M3 debuted in 2014, we strapped it down on the dyno for a peek into what its M-massaged 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six was really making. Consider us slightly disappointed—the M car’s mighty engine only exceeded BMW’s horsepower rating by a measly 10 horsepower, for a (still substantial) total of 435 ponies.
7. 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Advertised output: 455 horsepower
Dyno-measured output: 462 horsepower
And we’ve come full circle! Having kicked off this roundup with the 2020 Corvette C8, we’re wrapping it up with the last Corvette, the new-for-2014 C7-generation model, the last of the front-engine Corvettes. When new in ’14, the Corvette Stingray bore a fairly honest factory horsepower rating of 455 (that’s with an optional performance exhaust). Our dyno results for the C7 showed that Chevy’s rating was pretty much spot-on, with our test car delivering 462 horsepower.
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