Someone aptly said, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one,” and the same argument can be made for video games. It’s like reading a book. Someone created a world. Someone had to work diligently to come up with a scene, with a map of the street, with features, with gadgets and widgets, and with every fine detail that you can think of. More people had to bring it all together. They had to integrate the sound, the action of a car and other inanimate objects, and your own movement of the controller. They basically created a world of their own, a world to which you then have access.
Why you access that world can be as simple as "because it’s fun" or as scientific as “because cells of your brain have gotten used to firing in a certain pathway that ultimately leads to the production of dopamine in the pleasure center of the brain.” Or, maybe, you just got bored with other things in life, so you turned to the console.
Anyways, when it comes to famous video games, the name Need for Speed (NFS) pops up in many players' minds. It’s one of the most successful racing video games out there, and it's been in production since 1994 and is going strong even now. Over the years, the game has seen exceptional development, with astonishing changes in graphics and customizations.
20 Nissan 350z
Starting off the list is Nissan 350z. This was the usual player's first car on NFS, and it was common to just fall in love with it. The color of this car matched perfectly with the background of the scene in the game. A player was ordinarily bummed out about having to give it back after the first ride. It was a crazy car.
It’s a good car in real life also. Launched in 2002, the 350Z marque looks fabulous even now. The back is particularly captivating, and combine that with an elongated hood, and you have an awesome sports car.
I saw the successor of the 350z, the 370z, on the road a few days ago, and that car was just exuding excellence both from the engine and from the exterior.
19 Audi R8 Le Mans
Moving up the rank and down the list, we have the Audi R8 Le Mans. The R8 Le Mans is a prototype of the R8, having won several Le Mans races in the early and mid-2000s.
In fact, it won the Le Mans race four out of five times between 2000 to 2005, not winning only in 2003.
The R8 looked like a superstar in the game and drove like a pure beauty. The R8 has been in production since only 2006, although it seems to have been in existence for a longer period of time. It’s an excellent car, having all the prowess and the maneuvers. The exterior looks stunning, regardless of the direction you look at it from, although I personally like the scary front a lot, with the complicated grille and side vents.
18 Ford GT
The Ford GT is also a good car—well, a little more than “good,” maybe. In production from 2004 to 2006, the GT was a tribute to the GT40, the four-time winner of Le Mans from 1966-1969. Unlike some of the other sports cars, this one was full-length, if not bigger. The low-slung body, admirable length, and nose-cone front, all made it more desirable and a pleasure to be around. The hood had some curved cuts to make it as efficient as possible. Not everyone had the opportunity to own this car—just a few select individuals, like John Cena, had it. The value of the car when it was launched was around $150K. If you were to look for one now, it would easily cost you near $400K.
17 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Launched as the high-performance version of the Corvette, the Z06 was, and I quote, “The best car for career in NFS CARBON.” It was used as Cross’s pursuit vehicle twice; however, it never achieved the level of popularity that some of the other cars here did. Z06 from both the C5 and the C6 were used in the game. The C5 was outfitted with several refinements that weren't present in the base models—underside body panels, rear air-scoops and side air-inlets, to name a few.
The Z06 from C6 saw an increase in the power with its 7-liter LS7 engine.
While it didn’t beat others at top speed, it had a quick acceleration—similar to some of the muscle cars—which made it an asset for all players.
16 BMW M4 F82
Classified as a sports car in Need for Speed: No Limits, the BMW M4 F82 is a high-performance version of the 4-Series. It has an extremely capable and agile twin-turbocharged engine, improved handling and brakes, better suspension, a redesigned aerodynamics, and a unique badging. The 4-Series is the type of car that can totally pull off a matte finish, particularly in black or gray, considering the high-ground hood, which looks full of capable machines. The full hood also has an electric motor that distributes torque more optimally.
Combine that with a lightweight carbon-fiber body, and you get a machine capable of giving you 406 lb-ft of torque and a 0-60 time of 3.9 seconds.
This car also competes in the Deutsche Touring Masters and has won the Marco Wittmann of 2014 and 2016.
15 BMW M3 (E92)
Ranking right above the 4-Series, we have the 3-Series, the high-performance version, more specifically, called "M3." You might be thinking, “What?” “Another BMW?” Yes, that’s right—another powerful BMW. As you'll see, another one from this marque will defeat all the others on this list and make it to the top, but this one is still spot-deserving.
Compared to the standard cars in the 3-Series, the M3 had upgrades in engine, handling, suspension, braking, aerodynamics, interior, and exterior—the whole nine yards, essentially.
It was meant to be the car for racing. This car appeared in several NFS games, including ProStreet, Undercover, Shift and World, amongst others. The M3 E92 is featured as the facelift model in NFS 2015. The 4-liter V8 engine delivers a powerful 295 lb-ft of torque with the help of an efficient transmission.
14 Bugatti Veyron 16.4
Wo-ho. Whoa. Whoa. This is going to be an eventful entry. Veyron has been praised by many as the greatest car in the world. It has broken a few notable records, such that when the car was under development, a lot of car gurus didn’t think Bugatti would be able to complete the endeavor. But not only did Bugatti pull through; they also produced a car that’s probably going to become a timeless classic of our era in the future. The rear is inexplicable, and the entire car has classic curves and mechanical edges, as appreciated by Gordon Murray. The engine is nothing short of magical: the "16.4" refers to a 16-cylinder W engine, which is a result of the combination of two V8s; the "4" refers to the number of turbochargers. And it produces—wait for it—a whopping 1,001 HP and 922 lb-ft of torque.
13 Ford Mustang GT
One of the players thought the Mustang GT was one of the most easily customizable American cars. All parts are easy to find, and the entire customization process is a breeze. Even the film NFS did a good job with this car; both the looks and the performance were stunning. The Mustang has been in production since 1965, spanning six generations. It’s a great car with various features and options suitable for the needs of an adrenaline junkie.
The 5-liter V8 produces 400 lb-ft of torque and a top speed of 164 mph—that’s a good amount of torque to speed through the streets.
Ford GT isn't the only car to have been involved in racing, though—the Mustang GT has that also, from sports-car racing to drag racing to stock-car racing.
12 Subaru Impreza WRX STI (GDB-F)
The compact family car was the successor to the Subaru Leone, with the WRX representing the high-performance version. The WRX STI is a fierce competitor of the Mitsubishi Lancer, which is another powerful and stylish car. The WRX STI is probably the best starter car, not just one of the best cars. The ones from 2006-2008 have a 2.5-liter Turbocharged F4 that produces 300 lb-ft of torque and 300 BHP.
With a top speed of 155 mph, it'll reach the 60-mph mark in just 5.1 seconds.
In the game, the acceleration is weak, but that's made up for by the responsive steering; with the WRX STI, cornering has never been easier. In real life, the power and the performance are wonderful for a car that costs less than $34K brand new.
11 Toyota Supra SZ-R
This car looks similar to the Toyota Celica, and if you confuse it with the Celica, I would dismiss that as just a misdemeanor rather than finding you guilty of a felony. The styling was adapted from the Celica, although the Supra was longer and wider. At some point, the two models completely departed, severing all connections with the word "Celica."
In the game, the Supra has been described as an iconic Japanese car. And not only that—it’s also an iconic NFS car, with its elongated yet plainly curved hood and a wing in the back. I was about to say this car looks like your classic sports and racing car from the ‘90s. Lo and behold, that’s exactly right. The SZ-R Mk4 was in production from 1994-2002.
10 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X
The replacement for the Evolution IX, the Evolution X, comes padded with improved steering and driving. The game also features the Evolution ES VIII, IX, and MR editions. Being the last one in the series, the X came equipped with a full-time S-AWC AWD system that allowed each corner to get its share of braking and torque. This way, torque is distributed more efficiently and as needed. It appeared in several games as tier 2 and 3, class B and C. The sports sedan looks tantalizing—particularly the hood with the vents in a triangular arrangement. Also, the back features a wing, so it doesn’t matter how you look at this car; you're bound to think it’s more than your average car. Production of this bad boy stopped in 2015.
9 Nissan Skyline GTR R34
You can tell by the look of this car that it means business on the track. One look and you should be sold. While the first production run lasted from 1969-1973, production was met with a hiatus for 16 years, after which the Nissan Skyline returned in full force with its R32. Cars from the first period enjoyed the well-deserved victories in local Japanese races—the superior technology was commendable. The R32 GT-R was even more praiseworthy; the technology was more real and superior than what its competitors provided. Naturally, an Australian motoring publication, Wheels, endowed the R32 with the nickname “Godzilla.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the Godzilla was born. The R34 carries that powerful engine and handling that the Godzilla had.
8 Audi Le Mans Quattro
The more I read and write about Audi, the more captivating Audi becomes. I mean, just take a look at the picture. It looks like it was from the future. And that might've very well been the case, as the car was produced in 2003. The mini-LED lights pointing out, the grille, the side vents, the in-curved door, the amazingly shaped body—literally everything was just what a car enthusiast could hope for in a car.
The hood also had the fabulous Quattro engine and a six-speed sequential manual.
This prototype had “magnetic ride magnetorheological dampers” that made the drive more responsive and smooth. It was produced in 2003 as a prototype after Audi had won so many Le Mans that they decided to make their technology public, I guess. This one-time deal eventually turned out to become what we now know as the Audi R8.
7 Lamborghini Murcielago
Here's the first of three Lambos that we'll be including in the list. Founded by a Ferrari fan, the company Lamborghini was actually under Audi AG in 1998—that’s why some of the Audis and Lamborghinis share features. Founder Ferruccio Lamborghini started building cars by that name after he had a skirmish with the Ferrari founder. Apparently, Lamborghini found out that the clutch of his tractor and his personal Ferrari car were the same. So, he went to ask for a replacement for his faulty Ferrari clutch but was told he didn’t know squat about sports cars. Yeah, right. Filled with rage, Lamborghini developed his own car in four months.
Murcielago was succeeded by the Aventador in real life. In NFS, the SV Murcielago was used.
6 Porsche Carrera GT
Whenever it’s time to beat the final boss, players seem to go with this one whenever possible.
The sports car was equipped with a 5.7-liter DOHC V10 that was mid-mounted; production lasted from 2003-2007, with 1,270 units being produced.
While from the sides, it looks like the cabin is off the center, being asymmetrically closer to the front, once you look at the back, you know why—there are two Hemi propeller-like structures in the rear where the engine sits. It looks totally rocket-like from the back. And when it came out, the Carrera GT received several awards. It was selected as the Top Sports Car of the 2000s by Sports Car International and ranked number eight on the Top Sports Cars of All Time list.
5 Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4
Named after the bull Aventador that fought valiantly in the bullring of Zaragoza in 1993, the supercar Aventador is a beast also. Replacing the Murcielago as the flagship car of Lambo, the Aventador has risen to the occasion solemnly.
The mid-mounted 6.5-liter V12 produces an astounding 509 lb-ft of torque and 700 HP, both of which give it a 2.8-second 0-60 time.
It's one of the best V12s out there—and there are many cars with V12 engines, so it’s not like it doesn’t have competition. In the game (and in real life also), the car has sensitive steering, which allows it to excel at cornering. Because of its top speed of 220 mph, you can use the Aventador to compete with the likes of the McLaren F1 Elite.
4 Dodge Viper SRT 10
Just by looking at it, you can tell it’s a sports car that not only drives fast but also drives well due to the lightweight frame. The production of the Viper occurred in two periods of time, from 1992-2010 and then 2012-2017. Dodge went hardcore with some of the versions of the Viper. The Viper ACR (American Club Racing) model, for instance, was a street-legal racing car. Forget the powerful engine and the lightweight exterior—Dodge made the interior racing-friendly by not equipping it with any fluff that would add weight. In other words, you could say goodbye to the AC, the radio, the speakers, the amplifier, the trunk carpet, the hood pad, and the tire inflator. All you wanted was a car with a top speed, good steering, and a great ride, so Dodge made sure you had exactly that. As one of the players said, “It’s beautiful to drive it fast.”
3 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera
Though the Gallardo isn't new anymore—having been replaced five years ago by the Huracan—it’s still one of the best marques of Lamborghini. Throughout its ten years of life, it came equipped with either an even- or odd-firing V10 engine. NFS introduced various Gallardos into the arena, with all receiving positive feedback. The Superleggera, meaning "super lightweight" in English, was exactly that. Coming out from 2010-2013, these were lighter and yet more powerful than the standard LP 570-4. The magic fiber, also known as carbon fiber, made a world of difference, as the weight was reduced significantly. At that time, the Superleggera was the lightest road-going Lambo in that range. Some players have simply called it “the best, period.” While we don’t agree with that, it’s one of the best for sure.
2 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren
Jointly built by two of the best car manufacturers of our era, the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren is breathtaking. It’s essentially a rocket on wheels. The “SLR” part of the name means “Sport, Light, Racing” in English, all three of which are true. It’s sporty, light, and race-worthy. What do you expect when you have a manufacturer like McLaren building a production car? It’s only recently that McLaren got into making production cars. Before that, all it did was produce F1 cars. Everything in this car yells sports and racing. There's a spoiler in the back that rises with speed, but its angle can be changed at the driver’s discretion. In the game, the SLR is one of the fastest vehicles, and while it has a lower top speed than the Carrera GT, the acceleration of the McLaren is top-notch with full upgrades.
1 BMW M3 GTR
And here we are the pinnacle of the list. You might've expected some supercar or even an F1 car, but instead, you find the humble BMW M3 GTR. I think Wikipedia summarizes it very nicely: “It is essentially a race car with license plates.” The racing GTR competed in the 1994 ADAC German GT Cup Touring Car and was meant to compete in several other races, including the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). While BMW had the option of going through the ALMS either with a penalty or producing a greater quantity of road-going cars—as it lacked the quantity—for some reason, BMW opted out of the race, thus putting an end to the career of the M3 GTR. There were a few road-going cars that went on sale for 250K euros each. It’s arguably the best car on NFS.