Cars are fast, right?

Fast cars are fast, I mean. Cars like the McLaren 570S, which is supercar fast despite being called a ‘Sports Series’ car. It has a rival in the Audi R8, which, by any stretch, is a supercar too. As is the new Honda NSX. Horsepower is in the 500-and-something realm. All day long, these cars are supercars.

Aston Martin Valkyrie full details

At least, they were. But just as the Volkswagen Polo got so big that there was room for the Up beneath it, so, too, has the supercar class changed, defining itself as a faster niche again.

A Super Series McLaren, for example, is the 650S, which is likely to be replaced, and relatively soon, by a car that more closely resembles the even more powerful 675LT. That will continue to go head to head with Ferrari’s 488 GTB, the archetypal mid-engined supercar, and the Lamborghini Huracán. These cars, you understand, are now ‘normal’ supercars. They’re the Polo-class cars that have left room for the Ford Ka and Up beneath them. Brake horsepower? Six hundred, at least, plus another 50, as a rule.

Above those is a supercar class that doesn’t have a name. Beyond-supercars such as the Lamborghini Aventador and Ferrari F12 – cars with V12 predecessors whose power outputs, 20 years ago, started with a four. Today they begin with a seven, which will soon become an eight.