On October 31st, Hennessey Performance Engineering unveiled the Venom F5 hypercar at the 2017 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Based out of Houston, Texas, the tuner shop flies by the motto “Making Fast Cars Faster Since 1991,” and specializes in adding huge output to sports cars that already tout impressive power numbers from the factory. However, with the Venom F5, HPE takes a step towards full-blown manufacturer territory. As a follow-up to the preceding Lotus-based Venom GT, the Venom F5 took four years to develop, and it’s essentially a brand-new vehicle. Outside, the F5 enjoys a fresh look and new aerodynamics, while under the skin is a bespoke carbon fiber chassis and an updated engine with more displacement and more power. Like the Venom GT before it, the F5 is in the running for fastest car on the planet, challenging the world’s best with claims of 300 mph at the top end. So then – how does it stack up against its forerunner?
To find out, we put together the following comparison piece, analyzing the exteriors, interiors, drivetrain, chassis, and pricing for both. Read on to see how Hennessey made its Venom even more potent.
Continue reading for the full comparison.
Right from the off, the Lotus roots of the Venom GT are obvious. The styling up front and in back are quite similar to what you’d find on the diminutive British sports car – for example, the front end uses long, drawn-out, diamond-shaped housings for the headlights, which are laid high on the plumped-up fenders and draw the eye rearwards while simultaneously enhancing the car’s natural visual width. The greenhouse brings the side panels inwards before once again curving back out towards the flared rear fenders, giving the car an hourglass shape when viewed from above. In back is a curvaceous tail and short overhang, with a quartet of rounded taillights.
However, while the styling is similar, the Venom GT stands out in a variety of ways. First and foremost are the vastly expanded exterior dimensions, with the Hennessey measured at 183.3 inches in length and 77 inches in width. That’s an increase of 33.8 inches and 9.2 inches respectively compared to the Lotus’ 149.5-inch length and 68-inch width. Height is nearly identical at 44.7 inches for the Hennessey and 45.6 inches for the Exige.
It’s almost as if the Venom GT is a tuner version of the Lotus, albeit with extreme modifications. However, while easier to produce, the Venom GT’s Exige roots constrained Hennessey in terms of aerodynamics – the company had to work around the Lotus design, which wasn’t necessarily ready for the incredible top speeds Hennessey had planned.
The F5 works around this with a totally clean-sheet design approach. Rather than adapting to the bones of the Exige, Hennessey managed to create its own aero solutions with a brand-new chassis. Utilizing modern technology like computational fluid dynamics programs, the Venom F5 gets a lower coefficient of drag, down to 0.33 compared to the Venom GT’s 0.44. That’s a major step forward for a car that’s so focused on maximizing top speed, and it’s achieved thanks to a flat underbody and active downforce elements.
What’s more, we think the carbon fiber body panels of the F5 look great. It definitely looks like an evolution of the GT’s aesthetic, but it’s also got it’s own thing going on, with tons of aggression befitting of such a vehicle.
Nice one, Hennessey.
Much like its exterior spec, the Venom GT’s cabin is heavily based on the Lotus Exige. The layout is practically identical, with a small dash, rounded air vents, matching door panels, and minimal infotainment options. The analog gauge cluster
is also the same in the Venom GT.
However, the Hennessey product still stands out thanks to a select number of upgrades. The materials in the GT are nicer, with quilted upholstery added to the top of the dash, the door panel inserts, and the seats. Leather and Alcantara are in ample supply, while contrast stitching adds a little extra flair. The seats themselves were swapped for more supportive bucket units, while the steering wheel is a unique three-spoke unit covered in soft stuff. The floors are also carpeted, and a custom roll cage wrapped in quilted upholstery keeps it safe. Carbon fiber for the central tunnel, instrumentation shroud, and HVAC control pod rounds it off.
All told, the Venom GT does a good job in enhancing the Lotus’ barebones approach to cabin design. And although we have yet to get an official look at the Venom F5’s cabin, we’d naturally expect even more comfort and amenities. At this price range, a high degree of customizability is expected, with even more Alcantara and leather throughout. Carbon fiber will once again play a major role, while aluminum and brushed metal will add to the premium feel. Further infotainment features are a must, with a large touchscreen for the dash, plus smartphone connectivity. Finally, the cabin space should be a bit larger, while we’d also like it if the doors open up in a dramatic gullwing fashion.
While aero performance is key and interior comfort is nice, the true heart of Hennessey’s vehicles is in the engine spec. For the Venom GT, that means a twin-turbo 7.0-liter LSX V-8, with the GM-sourced powerplant boosted to 1,244 horsepower and 1,155 pound-feet of torque. Impressive, no doubt, but the last of the GT’s (2016) got even more of the go-stuff thanks to a tune to make it run on E85 Flexfuel. That meant even more boost, up to 26 psi from the previous 19 psi, with the last Venom GT managing to pump out as much as 1,451 horsepower at 7,200 rpm. Routing the muscle rearwards is a Ricardo six-speed manual transmission.
With proper application of the long skinny pedal, the Venom GT manages to hit 60 mph in 2.4 seconds, 100 mph in 4.4 seconds, and 200 mph in 12.8 seconds. The quarter mile is dispatched in 9.4 seconds at 167 mph. To help put that in perspective with the European competition, the Venom GT can sprint to 300 km/h (186 mph) in 10.9 seconds and 400 km/h (249 mph) in 18.1 seconds. Top speed is rated at an astounding 280 mph.
Of course, any follow-up to the Venom GT would need even more, and the Venom F5 delivers – big time. The configuration is the same (mid-mounted twin-turbo V-8), but displacement rises to 7.4 liters. Peak output is also up, with as much as 1,600 horsepower and 1,300 pound-feet of torque routed to the rear wheels through a seven-speed single-clutch paddle-shifter transmission.
We’re still waiting for Hennessey to put the F5 through some public real-world testing, but predictions for the speed and acceleration potential are impressive, to say the least. The run to 300 km/h (186 mph) should take less than 10 seconds, which would make the F5 quicker than a modern F1 car in the test. The run to 400 km/h (249 mph) and back down to 0 will take less than 30 seconds, which would beat such performance heavyweights as the Bugatti Chiron and Koenigsegg Agera RS. Finally, and most importantly, Hennessey is claiming a top speed of 300 mph.
Engine, drivetrain, and performance specs
|Hennessey Venom GT||Hennessey Venom F5|
|Engine configuration||mid-mounted twin-turbo 7.0-liter V-8||mid-mounted twin-turbo 7.4-liter V-8|
|Transmission||six-speed manual||seven-speed paddle-shift|
|Peak horsepower||1,244 HP
(1,451 H P
|Peak torque||1,155 LB-FT||1,300 LB-FT|
|0-to-186 mph||10.9 seconds||Less than 10 seconds|
|0-to-249 mph||18.1 seconds||Less than 30 seconds seconds|
|Top speed||280 mph||300 mph|
Chassis And Handling
With its much larger exterior dimensions and enormous turbo powerplant, it should come as no surprise that the Hennessey Venom GT weighs a good deal more than its standard Exige counterpart, tipping the scales at 2,743 pounds. That’s a whopping 728 pounds more than the 2,015-pound Lotus.
However, the Venom F5 is even portlier than the GT, most likely due to its larger engine, paddle-shift transmission, and potentially upgraded interior spec. Curb weight is up to 2,950 pounds, making it a little over 200 pounds heavier than the GT.
Still, that ain’t bad. The F5 has just 1.84 pounds for every horsepower to push around, as opposed to 1.89 pounds per horsepower for the GT.
Finally, both cars get Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires for grip.
Both the Venom GT and the Venom F5 offer very limited production numbers and seven-figure price tags. The GT’s asking price comes to $1.2 million, while the F5 costs a bit more at $1.6 million.
All told, the Venom F5 is absolutely a worthy successor to the Venom GT. Everything about it is more impressive, and I especially like how Hennessey decided to do its own thing in terms of exterior styling, aerodynamics, and the carbon fiber chassis. With a product like this, the Texas tuner has a real shot at taking out the best of the best from the world of boutique hypercars.
Now it just has to prove it in the real world.
Read our full review on the 2016 Hennessey Venom GT.
Read our full review on the 2019 Hennessey Venom F5.
Read our full review on the 2017 Lotus Exige.