There's just nothing quite like a V8 to bring smiles to the faces of automotive enthusiasts the world over. From the snarl of a V8's exhaust to wide and torquey power bands to the historical significance - especially of Detroit's V8 muscle cars - the design has proven so legendary it even achieved worshipful status and a prayerful hand clasp in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Today's manufacturers are upping the ante on their V8 engines by adding plenty of forced induction to already massive displacement. It seems like a never-ending arms race is dominating Detroit, as each brand tries to one-up the rest with the latest special edition model - while tuners like Special Vehicle Engineering and Hennessey Performance offer plenty of upgrades packages to bump power up to and beyond the magical 1,000 horsepower mark.
But raw power isn't the only thing that cars are meant for - there has to be a balance between an engine's output and its weight to allow for even, predictable handling and true sports car performance. No car can match the light weight of a sport-tuned motorcycle, but no motorcycle can match the power output of a massive V8 engine.
The middle ground comes in the form of stellar cars from manufacturers all over the globe, who have managed to cram lightweight V8 engines into brilliantly designed sports cars that handle like a dream. Keep scrolling for 12 V8 cars that can legitimately hope to take on a motorcycle, and 13 that shouldn't even get revved up to try.
25 Wins: Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R
The current sixth generation Ford Mustang represents Ford's determination to return to the roots that made the first Mustang one of Detroit's most iconic products. The styling is great, to be sure, but underneath the skin the Mustang lives up to, and exceeds, its muscle car heritage.
Especially in Shelby GT350R trim with a priority on lightweight and track agility, taking advantage of the new fully independent rear suspension while cranking 526 horsepower out of its 5.2-liter V8.
Changes over base Mustangs even include carbon fiber wheels, allowing the GT350R to definitely have a chance at beating a motorcycle in the straightaway and in tight corners.
24 Wins: Chevrolet Corvette ZO6
Chevrolet's Corvette has largely stayed above the battle that's currently raging between its Camaro sibling and Dodge's Challenger and Charger Hellcats. But despite the latter models receiving plenty of press, Chevy is still bringing the heat with its current Corvette Z06. With a supercharged V8 producing 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, a low center of gravity, and a seven speed manual transmission all in the mix, the Corvette Z06 should be able to keep up with the sport bikes on canyon roads and its top speed of 185 miles per hour means it can outpace all but the world's best motorcycles on the straightaways, too.
23 Wins: Ferrari 458 Speciale
With so many manufacturers turning to forced induction to improve low-end grunt and keep weight to a minimum, the Ferrari 458 Speciale looks to be one of the last normally aspirated V8 cars to truly combine light weight with impeccable handling.
The 458 Speciale houses a mid-mounted V8 that peaks at 597 horsepower as the engine screams to 9,000 RPM, in a low car with a curb weight just over 3,000 pounds.
A dual clutch transmission and an electronically controlled differential mean quick shifts and plenty of cornering capabilities, measured at a motorbike-challenging 1.33 g of lateral acceleration.
22 Wins: Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Chevrolet's Camaro ZL1 1LE is the top performing Camaro to come out of Detroit - and it looks the part with plenty of mean cladding, venting, and an enormous carbon fiber wing. Those design details aren't just for show, though, as the 1LE package shaves weight by using unique aluminum-bodied dampers, aluminum wheels, and Goodyear F1 Supercar tires. It shares its supercharged V8 with the Corvette Z06, and though it tips the scales at 3,850 pounds, its massively adjustable suspension allows for cornering in excess of 1.10 g. Keeping up with motorcycles hasn't looked so fierce since the Yenko Camaros of the late 1960s.
21 Wins: Ferrari 488 Pista
The Ferrari 488 Pista is the pinnacle track-demon among Ferrari's current impressive lineup. The Pista package combines nearly 200 pounds of weight savings compared to a base 488, resulting in a curb weight just above 3,000 pounds, with a twin-turbocharged V8 producing 710 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque.
The aero package generates 20% more downforce compared to a base spec model, including ducts in the front end, a larger rear spoiler, and an enormous rear diffuser.
The Pista can hit 60 miles per hour in under 2.85 seconds, 120 mph in under 7.6 seconds, and utilizes an electronically controlled differential, magnetorheological suspension, and seven speed dual clutch trans that shifts in as little as 30 milliseconds.
20 Wins: McLaren 720S
McLaren stunned the world with their record-setting F1 supercar in 1993, and has spent the interim time period honing their skills while remaining committed to building lightweight sports cars that can perform right alongside the best in the world. New for 2017, the 720S continues on the theme of high power and impressive handling, with a 710 horsepower, twin-turbocharged V8 mounted amidships and sending power to the rear wheels. The 720S even comes with a Drift Mode button, allowing the rear end to step out just in case its futuristic looks don't deter any would-be motorcycle racers from trying to pass on a sweeping curve.
19 Wins: Ariel Atom 500
The Ariel Atom pushes the limits of what exactly makes a car a car. Hearkening back to early Lotus models, its open construction is part supercar, part Formula 1 racer, and seems just about as dangerous as a motorcycle to drive among gigantic SUVs on city streets.
But all that exposed engineering allows for a ridiculously low curb weight of around 1,350 pounds, while in 500 trim, it packs a 3.0-liter V8 engine making, you guessed it, 500 horsepower.
A 0-60 sprint takes only 2.3 seconds, and the Ariel Atom 500 currently holds second place in time trials around the Top Gear test track - behind only the Pagani Huayra and its massive V12.
18 Wins: Koenigsegg Agera
The Koenigsegg Agera in RS trim currently holds the world record for fastest production vehicle ever made, a title it took over last year after posting a 284.55 miles per hour straight line speed. Its hyper-futuristic design optimizes drag and downforce, while a twin-turbocharged V8 engine mounted behind the cabin pumps out up to 1,341 horsepower. But any Agera model, not just the RS, should be able to handle a motorcycle in any kind of competition, as the Swedish-based manufacturer has spent the last two decades honing their designs to create the world's fastest car that handles as well as it sprints.
17 Wins: Hennessey Venom GT
Texas-based tuners Hennessey Performance have long made a name for themselves beefing up the world's best factory spec cars and transforming them into monsters on a whole new level. So when they set about to create an all-new, purpose-built model with the intention of making the world's fastest car, every supercar manufacturer took note.
The result was the Venom GT, which holds the unofficial record for fastest acceleration with a 14.51 second run to 200 miles per hour.
While the Koenigsegg Agera RS bests the Venom GT in top speed on the record, Hennessey claims that a fully functioning example pumping 1,451 horsepower out of its twin-turbocharged, 7.0-liter V8 should be able to break world records if they can find a track long enough.
16 Wins: McLaren Senna
The McLaren Senna is based largely on the already impressive 720S, with even greater weight savings that help it maintain its status as McLaren's best handling car built to date. While its predecessor, the P1, utilized a hybrid drivetrain, the Senna (named after Brazilian legend Ayrton Senna who had great success with McLaren's racing team) opts to stick with a twin-turbocharged V8 producing 789 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. Extensive carbon fiber construction, including plenty of aggressive aero features, keeps weight at 2,641 pounds, making the Senna perfectly ready to handle any motorcycle competition owners might face in their daily lives.
15 Wins: Porsche 918 Spyder
The modern age of hyper-efficient hybrid cars, typified by the Toyota Prius, has filtered upwards to the world's best sports cars, as well. Not every hybrid supercar, however, combines a V8 engine with electric motors like the Porsche 918 Spyder.
On its own, the mid-mounted 4.6-liter V8 produces 600 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque, while overall power bumps up to 887 hp and 944 lb-ft of torque when two electric motors kick in, one on each axle.
The benefit of battery-powered low end torque is immediately apparent, as the 918 Spyder sprinted from 0-60 miles per hour in a scorching 2.2 seconds in tests by Car and Driver.
14 Wins: Saleen S7
The Saleen S7 was America's first mid-engined supercar when it debuted in 2000. The S7's radical styling, still future-facing even by today's standards, was matched by its performance: in twin-turbo Competition trim it produced 1,000 horsepower out of its 7.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8, all while keeping drag and handling a priority. Even with its clearly racing-derived profile, however, the S7 manages to maintain a level of luxury, even coming with custom-fit suitcases - even more than 15 years later, how many motorcycles can come even close to providing style and comfort, much less similar levels of mind-melting performance, in the same fashion as the S7?
13 Loses: Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye
Fans of the escalating power wars currently dominating news headlines out of Detroit will likely scoff at including the insane Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye on a list of cars that can't take on a motorcycle. They'll point to the Mustang GT350R and the Camaro ZL1 1LE and say the Hellcat Redeye can rip them to shreds, but the reality is that Dodge's big coupe is truly a drag strip special and can't even hope to handle sharp turns in the way some of its competitors are perfectly set up to do. There's nothing wrong with the Hellcat's 797 horsepower, supercharged V8 and its throaty rumble, but this is simply the wrong tool to pick for nimble and agile performance.
12 Loses: Jaguar F-Type SVR
Jaguar's F-Type is a stunningly designed coupe and the first model by the English manufacturer to be able to 200 miles per hour since the world-beating XJ220 of the 1990s.
In SVR trim, the F-Type's top speed is exactly 200 miles per hour, thanks to a 567 horsepower, supercharged 5.0-liter V8 under its long hood.
All wheel drive, an eight speed automatic, and a mechanical limited-slip differential all contribute to impressive stats like a sub-3.5 second sprint to 60 miles per hour, but don't get confused and think the F-Type is about to compete with a motorcycle - with plenty of luxury packed in, the coupe's curb weight is well over 4,000 pounds.
11 Loses: Jaguar XJR Sedan
Jaguar has fought its way to a solid market share thanks to an impressive range of attractive luxury products, from the F-Type coupe to the F-Pace SUV and the XJ sedan. All of Jaguar's vehicles combine luxury and power in spades, but they're simply too heavy to try and compete with a sports bike. Case in point is the XJ, which tips the scales around 4,000 pounds when equipped with the supercharged V8 that comes in the XJR package. Add in even further poundage for a long wheelbase edition, and it becomes even more clear that comfort has been prioritized over performance.
10 Loses: Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid
Porsche snobs scoffed when the German manufacturer unveiled the Cayenne SUV for the 2003 model year. But over time, even some of the harshest critics came to appreciate the SUV's performance, style, and essential qualities shared with other Porsche products.
The Panamera produced a similar response due to its enormous size and dubious profile, though the public has noticeably warmed up to the model - some incredibly powerful engines certainly help.
In top spec, the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid combines gasoline and electric motors for a total of 671 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque - the latter available way down at 1,400 RPM. But a curb weight of 5,000 pounds keeps actual performance at more sane levels.
9 Loses: Audi RS7
Audi's RS7 sportback may be a cruise missile when it launches off the line in drag strip competitions, but as is the case with many larger sports sedans, overall weight prevents the car from achieving the handling necessary to keep up with motorcycles any time a curve in the road appears. Even though a twin-turbocharged V8 cranks out up to 605 horsepower, and despite Audi's legendary Quattro all wheel drive system routing that power as needed, a curb weight that approaches 4,500 pounds means that the RS7 simply cannot turn in at any kind of truly sports car-level speed.
8 Loses: Audi S8
The range-topping Audi S8 combines simple, iconic styling with a powerful drivetrain to make for one of the world's premier luxury sports sedans.
Its price tag of well over $100,000 buys up to a 605 horsepower, twin-turbocharged V8, Quattro all wheel drive, and plenty of interior amenities from massaging seats to all the tech gizmos standard at the highest end of the automotive market.
But all that power is for straight line cruising on the Autobahn, in the corners the S8's massive bulk keeps it from being able to even think about keeping up with any kind of modern sport bike.
7 Loses: Dodge Charger Hellcat
Dodge has upped the game recently as part of their escalating power wars reminiscent of the muscle car era. No one's complaining, though, as massive power figures peaking above 700 horses out of a V8 certainly aren't anything to scoff at. But in the case of the Charger Hellcat, one of the world's most powerful sedans on the market, 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque make for one great drag strip show, but not for a true sports car's handling. Throw in an eight speed automatic transmission as the only option, and the Charger Hellcat clearly slots in as a (radical, to be sure) cruiser and a bruiser, but nothing any motorcyclist is liable to be nervous about.
6 Loses: Lexus LC500
Lexus got into the performance market with the release of the LFA for model year 2011. Where previously they had successfully thrown their hat into the predominantly German luxury sedan segment, the LFA turned heads thanks to its futuristic design and an even-firing V10 under the hood.
The LFA's closest successor currently is the LC500 coupe, which subs in a 471 horsepower V8 paired to a ten-speed automatic transmission.
But the LC500 is more of a tourer than the LFA was a sports car, and despite stunning looks, it only manages to reach 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds.
5 Loses: Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4Matic
Mercedes tried its hardest to produce a luxury sports sedan with the impressive E63 S 4Matic. The car's heart and soul is a twin-turbocharged V8 producing 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque. That 4Matic badging means all wheel drive, though to improve the fun factor, there's also a Drift Mode that routes all that power strictly to the rear axle. A 0-60 sprint takes only three seconds for the long four door, but even with some of the best Germany has to offer, the E63's weight of 4,669 pounds adds up to a spectacular car for the straights, and one that can add a bit of rear end swinging, but that simply won't be able to keep up with a motorcycle in real world applications.
4 Loses: Mercedes-AMG GT S
The Mercedes-AMG GT S certainly looks the part of a stunning sports car, with lines that are a clear modern take on the iconic 300 SL "Gullwing" - arguably the most beautiful automotive forms of all time.
A modern edge of menace creeps into the styling thanks to plenty of venting, angular headlights, and of course the V8 Biturbo badging on the side.
That engine setup cranks out 515 horsepower and 490 lb-ft of torque in S trim, though a normally aspirated GT3 variant kicks things up to 622 horses at 7,400 RPM. Still, even the lightest version weighs in at over 3,500 pounds, a trend Mercedes just can't seem to buck.
3 Loses: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
The gorgeous Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG debuted for model year 2011 with a claim to housing the world's most powerful naturally aspirated production series engine.
The V8 under its long hood produced 563 horsepower without the use of turbo- or supercharging, and a seven speed dual clutch automatic transmission helped with lightning fast shifting duties.
Handling was impressive for its size, but even the lightest, extensively carbon fiber Black Series still almost hit 3,500 pounds, revealing Mercedes-Benz's penchant for perhaps cramming too much luxury into a car for it to count as a true sports-focused vehicle that a motorcycle might have to take seriously.
2 Loses: Chevrolet Camaro SS
It wasn't long ago that adding an SS badge standing for Super Sport to a Chevy Camaro signified impressive upgrades. But these days, the SS-spec Camaro is almost run-of-the-mill. Sure, it's got a V8 under the hood and plenty of good looks combining classic muscle car aggression and modern technological style, but the fact of the matter is that compared to the truly high performance Camaro ZL1 and the ZL1 1LR track monster, the Camaro SS just can't keep up. The little brother certainly isn't about to beat any motorcycles around a track or up a winding canyon road, either.
1 Loses: BMW M5 Competition
BMW has spent the last decade trying to dig themselves out of a hole that they themselves created. The new M5 in Competition trim - not to mention the forthcoming, range-topping M850i - is certainly a step in the right direction, with a 617 horsepower twin-turbo V8 under the hood that's been tuned to slightly beat a stock M5 (which could already sprint to 60 miles per hour in under three seconds). But the real changes that the Competition package brings to the table are handling upgrades, including a lower ride height, stiffer springs, and a beefed up rear sway bar to go along with bigger wheels and a sport exhaust. But the M5 still has a long way to go before it can hope to compete with a sport bike.