MPH’s Beginner’s Guide to Supercar, Hypercar, and Exotic Car Terminology

A to Z glossary for first time buyers entering the supercar, hypercar and exotic car market.

February 17, 2024 3:30 PM

By: MPH Team

Navigating the world of supercars, hypercars, and exotic cars can be a surreal experience, especially for first-time buyers entering the market. This glossary provides a comprehensive ‘A-Z’ guide to the most common terms you may encounter on your journey.



Active Aerodynamics: Systems that automatically adjust a car's aerodynamic elements in real-time based on speed and other conditions, optimizing performance.


Active Suspension: A system that adjusts the suspension settings on the fly.


Aerodynamics: The study of how air interacts with moving objects. In the context of supercars, it refers to how the design of a car impacts its performance and efficiency due to air resistance.


Aftermarket: Parts or accessories added to a vehicle after the original sale. Often used to personalize or upgrade a car.


All-Wheel Drive (AWD): A drive system that operates both front and rear axles simultaneously, often used in supercars to improve traction.


All-Terrain: Vehicles designed to perform well on both on-road and off-road conditions, combining luxury with rugged capability.


Alloy Wheels: Wheels made from an alloy of aluminum or magnesium, often lighter and more visually appealing than steel wheels.


Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS): A system that prevents the brakes from locking up and tires from skidding during hard braking.


Bespoke: Custom or tailor-made to the buyer's specification, especially concerning luxury vehicles.


BHP (Brake Horsepower): The horsepower of an engine measured before the loss in power caused by the gearbox, alternator, differential, water pump, and other auxiliary components.


Boost Pressure: Refers to the amount of pressure built up by turbochargers or superchargers.


Brabus: A high-end tuner based in Germany that specializes in customizing Mercedes-Benz cars, offering both performance and aesthetic enhancements.


Carbon Ceramic Brakes: Lightweight, high-performance brakes known for excellent heat dissipation.


Carbon Fiber: A strong and lightweight material often used in the manufacturing of supercars to reduce weight and increase strength.


Carlex Design: A global design studio recognized for its intricate interior customizations, transforming high-end vehicle interiors into bespoke masterpieces.


Center Lock Wheels: Wheels that use a single central nut to secure them.


Chassis: The base frame of a vehicle, onto which other components are mounted.


Convertible (or Cabriolet): A car with a roof that can be folded down or removed.


Coupé: A two-door car often with a fixed roof, typically sportier than its four-door counterparts.


Differential: A device that splits torque between the wheels, allowing them to rotate at different speeds, especially important in turns.


Downforce: The downward force exerted on a car as it moves, used to improve tire grip and stability at high speeds.


Drag Coefficient: A measurement of a car's aerodynamic efficiency. The lower the coefficient, the better the car is at slicing through the air.


Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT): An automated manual transmission that uses two separate clutches for odd and even gear sets.


Edo Competition: A German tuning company that works on an array of supercars, offering modifications for brands ranging from Porsche to Koenigsegg.


Electronic Stability Control (ESC): A system that detects and reduces the loss of traction, improving a car's stability.


Exhaust Diffuser: A component designed to improve the airflow underneath the vehicle.


Exotic Car: Often rare and always high-performance, exotic cars stand out due to their unique design, limited production, and often, a hefty price tag.


FAB Design: A Swiss automotive customization firm known for their distinctive and aggressive modifications, especially on McLaren models.


Flappy-Paddle Gearbox: Refers to the paddle shifters found behind a car's steering wheel.


Flat Plane Crank: A specific design of a V8 engine where the crankpins are 180 degrees apart. It allows the engine to rev higher, thus producing a unique sound and performance characteristic.


FWD (Front-Wheel Drive): A drivetrain configuration where the engine's power is sent to the front wheels of the vehicle.


F1-Style Brakes: Braking systems inspired by Formula 1 technology, offering exceptional stopping power.


Gemballa: A renowned German tuner with a rich history in providing performance and styling upgrades primarily for Porsche vehicles.


Ground Clearance: The distance between the ground and the lowest point of a car.


Ground Effects: Techniques and designs used on the underbody of cars to manage airflow, improving aerodynamics and traction.


Grand Tourer (GT): A performance or luxury automobile designed for long-distance driving.


GT-R (Gran Turismo Racer): "GTR" or "GT-R" stands for "Gran Turismo Racer." The term "Gran Turismo" (often abbreviated as GT) originates from the Italian language and translates to "grand tourer" in English. It typically refers to luxury performance cars designed for long-distance racing and driving.


Hennessey Performance: An American-based performance house, celebrated for transforming muscle and sports cars into high-performance beasts.


Horsepower (HP): A unit of measurement for power, indicating the engine's performance.


HRE Wheels: An American-based company renowned for designing and manufacturing high-quality, custom-made forged aluminum wheels, primarily for luxury sports cars and high-performance vehicles. 


Hybrid: A vehicle that uses more than one form of onboard energy to achieve propulsion. In hypercars, often a combination of gasoline and electric power.


Hypercars: A step above supercars, they represent the pinnacle of automotive performance, often incorporating the latest technology and materials.


Intake: The component through which air is drawn into a car's engine.


Intake Manifold: Part of an engine that supplies the air/fuel mixture to the cylinders.


Jounce: Upward movement of suspension; the opposite of rebound.


JP Performance: A well-known German tuning company, operated by influencer Jean Pierre Kraemer, that customizes a diverse range of cars with performance and design enhancements.


KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System): A system in some hybrid vehicles that stores energy produced under braking for later use.


Kilowatts (kW): Another measure of power, especially in electric cars.


Launch Control: A system that assists the driver in accelerating from a standstill, maximizing acceleration.


Liberty Walk: Based in Japan, this company is famous globally for its audacious widebody kits and modifications on various supercars.


Limited Production: Vehicles produced in limited quantities, often enhancing their exclusivity and value.


Limited-Slip Differential (LSD): A type of differential that limits wheel spin by distributing power more evenly.


Mansory: A luxury car modification firm based in Germany, distinguished for its extravagant and bold customizations on high-end cars and supercars.


Mid-Engine: An engine located between the rear and front axles, often used in supercars to optimize weight distribution and handling.


Monocoque: A structural approach wherein the car's body supports loads, improving strength and rigidity.


Naturally Aspirated (NA): An engine that draws air into its combustion chamber through atmospheric pressure alone, without the use of superchargers or turbochargers.


Novitec: A German tuner that specializes in modifying supercars, particularly focusing on Italian brands like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati, delivering both performance and aesthetic improvements.


Oversteer: When a car's rear wheels lose grip during a turn, causing the back end to swing out.


Paddle Shifters: Levers attached to the steering wheel that allow drivers to change gears manually in an automatic transmission.


Pirelli Tires: A brand known for its high-performance tires used in many supercars.


Plug-in Hybrid: A hybrid vehicle with batteries that can be recharged by plugging into an electric power source.


Prior Design: A German tuning company celebrated for its aerodynamic kits, body modifications, and other performance enhancements for a variety of vehicles.


Quad-Turbo: An engine equipped with four turbochargers.


Quattro: An all-wheel-drive system developed by Audi.


QUICKSILVER Exhausts: A UK-based company that designs and manufactures high-performance exhaust systems for a wide spectrum of vehicles.


Radiator: A component that cools the engine by circulating coolant through its coils, dissipating heat.


RENNtech: Located in the US, this firm concentrates on tuning Mercedes-Benz vehicles, with a particular focus on enhancing AMG models.


Ride Height: The distance between the ground and a specified point on a car's body.


RWD (Rear-Wheel Drive): A system where the engine drives only the rear wheels, commonly found in many super and exotic cars.


Sequential Transmission: A type of transmission that allows for gear changes in sequence.


Spoiler: An aerodynamic device to 'spoil' unfavorable air movement across the body of a car in motion.


Supercar: High-performance sports cars with superior handling, acceleration, and top speed capabilities.


TechArt: A German-based company with a specialization in offering performance and styling modifications primarily for Porsche models.


Torque: A measure of force that causes rotation. In vehicles, it's the turning force delivered from the engine to the wheels.


Torque Vectoring: A system that distributes torque to individual wheels for better handling.


Traction Control System (TCS): A system that prevents wheel spin during acceleration by adjusting engine power or applying brake force to specific wheels.


Turbocharger: A device that forces more air into the combustion chamber of an engine, allowing more fuel to be burned and thus, producing more power.


Underground Racing: An American tuner recognized for developing powerful twin-turbo systems, predominantly for Lamborghinis, taking their performance to unprecedented levels.


Understeer: When a car's front wheels lose grip during a turn, making the car resist turning.


Variable Valve Timing (VVT): A system that adjusts the timing of the opening and closing of the engine’s intake and exhaust valves, optimizing performance and fuel efficiency.


Vorsteiner: An American tuning company that provides a range of aerodynamic solutions, bespoke wheel designs, and other performance parts for various vehicles.


Vx Engine (e.g., V8, V12): Refers to the configuration and number of cylinders in an engine. The 'V' denotes the arrangement of the cylinders.


Wankel Engine: An engine type that uses rotors instead of pistons.


Xcentric: A firm that crafts high-quality exhaust systems tailored for a broad range of supercars, enhancing both sound and performance.


Xenon Headlights: A type of headlamp that uses xenon gas for illumination.


Z-Performance Wheels: A brand known for its high-performance wheels.



The world of supercars, hypercars, and exotic cars is vast, but with the right knowledge, you'll be better equipped to make an informed decision. Whether it's the allure of aerodynamics or the thrill of torque and horsepower, understanding these terms will enhance your confidence and decision making skills when you are on your journey to purchasing the exotic car of your dreams. 



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