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What is a supercar? And how does that differ from a hypercar? Dear reader, we’re glad you asked. In our ongoing Luxury Lessons series, we’ve got the rundown on everything you need to know about supercars. And hypercars. Buckle up.

luxury lessons: what you need to know about supercars

If you’re a dedicated petrol-head, you already know all of this. But if you’re married to, dating, working for, or otherwise obligated to talk to someone who is obsessed with and enthralled by the fastest machines available to the driving public, then consider this roundup your cheat sheet, at least for the next few months.

Like fashion, this segment of the automotive industry regularly sees new model introductions and rumors of wonders still to come. So check back from time to time if you really want to be current.

Luxury lessons on supercars

The Lamborghini Aventador Supercar. Courtesy Photo.

Supercars and hypercars: what are they?

First things first: the definition of “supercar.” And “hypercar.”

According to everything we could find on the web, a supercar is a vehicle in “the top range of today’s performance cars.” It’s not a rigid designation, but it is commonly understood to mean a car with vastly superior performance, technology and design. Usually bearing a price tag from the low-six to high-six figures (in US dollars).

The “performance” angle distinguishes a supercar from top-of-the-line luxury marques like Bentley, Maybach and Rolls Royce. They’re expensive and ultra-luxurious – but they’re not supercars.

A hypercar is the top one percent of supercars. Meaning, they have the best performance and design in the world, and their sales price is going to be over seven figures (in US dollars).

Reasonably simple, right? For fashion people, think of this way: supercars are designer ready-to-wear. And hypercars are haute couture.

The McLaren Senna Hypercar. Courtesy Photo.

the supercars and hypercars you need to know

Our Automotive Editor tells us that there are 10 marques that even a casual observer should know about in the world of supercars and hypercars. We’ve listed them below, along with their latest – or coming soon – models. One in particular might surprise you.

1. Ferrari.

Headquarters: Modena, Italy. Brief history: Founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1929, after he worked for Alfa Romeo for 9 years (he raced Alfa Romeos for 10 years after that). Model Names to Know: The company is over 70 years old, and has too many beloved models to name just one. All you really need to know is that the brand’s symbol is a prancing horse, and its signature color is red (Just like Valentino).

Celebrity owners? Drake, LeBron James, Nicole Kidman, Kim Kardashian West and Kylie Jenner. Latest news: Just ahead of the 2019 GIMS, Ferrari unveiled the F8 Tributo, the supercar successor to the 488 GTB. According to the automaker, it will reach 62 miles per hour in just 2.9 seconds, continuing on until it reaches its top speed of 211 mph.

Luzxury lessons on Supercars:  Ferrari F8 Tributo. Courtesy Photo.

2. Lamborghini.

Headquarters: Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy. Brief History: Manufacturing magnate Ferruccio Lamborghini founded the company in 1963 with the objective of producing a refined grand touring car to compete with established marques like Ferrari. Model Names to Know: While the Gallardo is historically the brand’s best seller (it was on the market from 2003-13), the best known is probably the Diablo.

Celebrity owners? Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj.  Latest news: The Huracán Evo is an extensively upgraded version of the original. The supercar, which will debut at the GIMS, goes from 0-62 mph in 2.9 seconds. Prices start at £206,000.

Luxury lessons on supercars

Lamborghini Aventador S Coupe. Courtesy Photo.

3. Automobili Pininfarina.

Headquarters: Italy. Brief History: The firm’s founder, Battista Farina, established the company in 1930 after working at his brother’s coach-building shop. The design house works with yacht-builders and other performance car manufacturers. Since 2015, it’s been owned by Indian conglomerate Mahindra. Model names to know: The Battista, the company’s first all-electric hypercar, is named after the company’s founder. It goes from 0-62 mph in less than 2.0 seconds, and has a top speed in excess of 250 mph. It is said to be the fastest all-electric car ever made, and only 150 of them will be built.

Celebrity owners? We’ll see. The first one hits the market in 2020. Latest news: With a reported range of at least 280 miles, the Battista will be in contention as the most environmentally efficient hypercar on the market.

Luxury lessons on supercars

Luxury lessons on supercars: Automobili Pininfarina. Courtesy Photo.

4. Pagani.

Headquarters: San Cesario sul Panaro, near Modena, Italy. Brief History: Founded in 1992 by Horacio Pagani. He had previously been an in-house carbon fiber expert at nearby Lamborghini. Model names to know: The Pagani Zonda took the world by storm in the early 2000’s. But its successor, the Huayra, is the icon. Named after an Andean wind god, there’s a hard-roofed model and also a convertible. These cars are particularly famous for their intricate interiors.

Celebrity owners? Jay-Z and Lewis Hamilton. Latest news: Pagani is reportedly planning to add two new models to its lineup: a Huayra successor and an all-electric hypercar.

Luxury lessons on supercars

Pagani Huayra Roadster. Courtesy Photo.

5. Bugatti.

Headquarters: Molsheim, France, in the heart of Alsace. Brief History:  Founded in 1909 by the Italian-born industrial designer Ettore Bugatti in what was then a region of Germany. The brand is now owned by the Volkswagon Group. Model Names to Know: There are only three models: the Veyron (the fastest production car in the world when it was launched in 2005); the Chiron; and the Divo.

Celebrity owners? Tom Cruise and Sylvester Stallone. Latest news: It’s rumored that Bugatti may bring an $18 million, one-of-a-kind modern take on the iconic Bugatti 57 SC Atlantic from 1936 to the 2019 GIMS. Reports are that it was built for Ferdinand Piëch, the ex-Volkswagen chairman who orchestrated Bugatti’s revival in 1998.

Luxury lessons on supercars

Luxury lessons on supercars: Bugatti Chiron. Courtesy Photo.

6. McLaren.

Headquarters: Woking, Surrey, England. Brief History: Founded in 1985 by Ron Dennis and named after engineer and race car driver Bruce McLaren. Revived in 2010 after being dormant for over 15 years. Model Names to Know: The brand has three tiers: the Sports Series (the 540, 570 and 600 model lines); the Super Series (the 720S) and the Ultimate series (including the Senna and the no-longer-in-production P1, both of which are hypercars).

Celebrity owners? Beyonce, David Beckham and Jay Leno. Latest news: McLaren’s latest hypercar launch is the “Hyper-GT” – the Speedtail, which replaces the P1 model and is a homage to the iconic F1. According to the automotive press, it’s the most aerodynamic car McLaren has ever produced.

The McLaren 720S. Courtesy Photo.

7. Koenigsegg.

Headquarters: Ängelholm, Sweden. Brief History: Founded in 1994 by Christian von Koenigsegg, then 22, with the goal of building the world’s fastest car. At one time tried to buy Saab, but the deal fell through. Model Names to Know: The CCR (crowned the fastest production car in the world at launch). The One:1 (which the brand says can go from 0 to 250 mph in less than 20 seconds); the Agera RS, and the Regera.

Celebrity owners? Floyd Mayweather and Christiano Ronaldo. Latest news: At the 2019 GIMS, Koenigsegg is expected to announce a much-anticipated successor to the Agera RS (it’s code-named “Ragnarok,” a term from Norse mythology meaning “the apocalypse”).

Luxury lessons on supercars: Koenigsegg Regera. Courtesy Photo.

8. Aston Martin.

Headquarters: Gaydon, Warwickshire, England.  Brief History: Founded in 1914 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford. The full name of the company comes from Martin’s last name and a stretch of road in Herfordshire called the Aston Hillclimb. The company holds a Royal Warrant for motorcars from the British Royal Family. Model Names to Know: The Vantage is the entry-level. The Vanquish is its big sibling. The DB11 and DBS Superleggera are the other two names to know.

Celebrity owners? James Bond, Michael Jordan and Rowan Atkinson. After the Royal Wedding, Prince Harry and Meghan took off in one. Latest news: the Aston Martin Valkyrie.

Aston Martin Vanquish Volante

9. Porsche/Rimac.

Headquarters: Stuttgart, Germany. Brief History: Founded by Austrian Ferdinand Porsche, who was previously the chief engineer at Mercedes-Benz. He debuted his first design at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1900 and formed his company in 1931. Porsche now owns 10 percent of Croatian car maker Rimac. Model Names to Know: The supercar 911 Turbo. The hypercars Porsche 918 Spyder (a hybrid which ended production in 2015) and the Rimac C_Two (fully electric).

Celebrity owner? Gwen Stefani.  Latest news: Porsche is likely to debut a new 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport at the 2019 GIMS. The Porsche Taycan will be the company’s first all-electric car.

Luxury lessons on supercars: Rimac Concept Two. Courtesy Photo.

luxury lessons: what you need to know about supercars

Here is everything you need to know about the supercars of today.

Pamela Thomas-Graham

Pamela Thomas-Graham is the Founder & CEO of Dandelion Chandelier. She serves on the boards of several tech companies, and was previously a senior executive in finance, media and fashion, and a partner at McKinsey & Co.