In the race to 300mph, we saw the usual brands throw their names into the contest. Names like Bugatti, Koenigsegg, SSC and of course, Hennessey Performance. The name Hennessey should be familiar to petrolheads as the brand that made a 275mph custom-built Lotus Exige called the Venom GT. The brand also makes other 1000hp+ versions of other models but in 2017, it showcased the concept model for its first original car – the Venom F5. It’s near the end of 2020 and Hennessey has now unveiled the customer-spec version of its newest hypercar.
The final version of the F5 features a few changes from the concept model. Most notably, it has a very different rear end with the position of four exhaust tips, the rear vents and the wing. While the overall shape looks similar to the 2017 model, the final version is built to be an everyday hypercar and the aerodynamic performance is said to have been evaluated extensively using computational fluid dynamics, which will be further tested in real-world tests as well. A lot of the dynamic development for the F5 has been led by Chief Engineer John Heinricy, former racer and used to be in charge of performance vehicles at GM for a few decades. He mentioned that his benchmark cars for the F5’s driving dynamics included the McLaren 600LT and Porsche Cayman GT4. It has an 86kg carbon tub for rigidity and precision handling and the monocoque is designed for high-levels of torsional rigidity.
Speaking of the carbon tub, the car has a lot of it which is why it only weighs 1,360kg. It’s got carbon-ceramic brakes, forged aluminium wheels, lightweight Penske dampers, carbon body on an aluminium subframe. The lightweight construction is a huge part of the F5’s performance package.
Let’s talk about the other main part of the Hennessey hypercar: Fury. No, not the sentiment, that’s the name of the engine. The 6.6-litre twin-turbo 90-degree push-rod cross-plane crank V8. It is based on the LS7 but has been heavily rebuilt to become its bespoke self. Some of the customisations include an all-new cast-iron block, aluminium cylinder heads and precision components like the crankshaft, pistons and connecting rods made from top-grade materials such as titanium, aluminium and Inconel.
The Fury has been tuned to produce 1,8171hp and 1,617N, all of it sent to the rear wheels via a 7-speed semi-automatic gearbox. The 280kg engine is rear mid-mounted and sits low in the monocoque for a lower centre of gravity. Like its name, the Fury is fast and LOUD.
Hennessey’s projected gear ratios suggest a theoretical top speed of well over 300mph, 334mph (534kph) to be precise. However, the team is yet to test it out in the real world where it aims to break the 500kph (311mph) barrier. Hennessey will first do its speed runs at the old NASA shuttle landing runway which is a lot shorter than the stretch used by Bugatti for the Chiron 300+ and the public road used by Koenigsegg for their record-setting runs. So, whatever top-speed the Venom F5 can reach in the shorter straight will be impressive anyway. In case you’d like to throw your hypercar at a corner or few, Hennessey Performance offers the track pack which adds a more aggressive front splitter and a rear-mounted wing to replace the subtle spoiler.
Bugatti usually cited tyre technology as its limitation when it used to pursue top-speed runs with the Chiron. However, the Hennessey creation is a lot lighter which works in its favour. The Venom F5 will get off-the-shelf Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s, chunky ones: 265/35 at the front and 345/30 at the rear. The team has stated that it will closely track how the tyres perform under pressure during the speed runs and will work with Michelin if any further development is required.
The cabin of the Venom F5 reflects the Hennessey hypercar philosophy of weight reduction with its minimalistic layout. Your carbon fibre bucket seats get leather pads with some more leather on the dashboard as well. There are little Texas and USA flag designs on the inside door handles and the upholstery tags for a little added Americana. But this is a driver-focused cockpit and it has a racing-styled steering wheel.
Nearly all controls are housed on the wheel, bit like a Ferrari but the switchgear looks more tactile. Those shift paddles look quite serious and the lucky previewers showed it to make a wonderfully mechanical sound. The ignition button is at the bottom of the steering wheel with a mode-selector toggle above it. The only screen in the driver’s eye line is the 7.0-inch TFT instrument cluster which also features fighter jet styled graphics.
The 9.0-inch touchscreen display in the centre gets the practicality of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Its central air vents are positioned just under it which flow into the central console. The climate controls are managed via a rotary control which has a touchscreen display to select the setting and a dial to adjust it. Behind it, we have the trio of drive-select modes followed by the window controls, lift system, door lock, hazard lights and the electronic parking brake. On both sides of those of the central console tunnel, there are slots for holding the smartphones. At the end of the controls, there is a plaque that denotes the model’s name and chassis number. Since this is the first customer car, it states chassis number 1. The Venom F5 ticks another classic hypercar itch that Bugatti does not: the doors go up.
Hennessey has stated customer deliveries for the Venom F5 will begin in 2021. The company does have a reputation of delayed timelines but this could be a turning point for them if they can do as promised. It’ll be a rare creature too with only 24 units to be built at a starting price of USD 2.1 million before personalised extras.
Which multi-million dollar hypercar do you like the most: the Venom F5, SSC Tuatara, Bugatti Chiron or Koenigsegg Jesko? Share your thoughts in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to the Auto Loons for more cool updates from the car world.