Forza Horizon 5 is a lot like your local used car dealership in that both dominate your TV screen for hours at night with the siren song of “500 cars!!!” So the question isn’t if you’re going to buy a new car. Rather, it’s what you’re going to buy.
Playground Games’ celebrated open-world racer, which is out now for Xbox and PC (via Game Pass for both), isn’t just impressive for featuring more than 500 cars. What’s impressive is that every car is tuned bespoke, handling with palpable difference from the other 499. The result is a dizzying possibility of choice. Some cars are great. Some, not so much. And a select few are truly best-in-class, part of an exclusive red-rope club you’d only expect to find on a parkway off the Ligurian. That’s to say nothing about how, at the start of every race, you can fine-tune specs yourself, including tire pressure, spring stiffness, caster angle, braking pressure, and so on.
Full stop: I don’t care about that stuff. I can’t even honestly say I understand it. If you’re looking for a list of the best cars in Forza Horizon 5 based on maths and physics and all that, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere. (Credit where it’s due, the good folks at Eurogamer have an impressive rundown.)
My go-to metric for choosing which cars are best in Forza Horizon 5 is, quite simply: “Car go fast make vroom.” That’s not just a measure of how physically fast a vehicle can go on a straightaway, but also a benchmark determinative of a completely subjective equation that factors in how well it handles, how much it costs, and, sure, how pretty it looks in screenshots. Forza Horizon 5, at the end of the day, is about getting behind the wheel of cool rides that are a blast to drive. By that standard, these are the cream of the crop.
2012 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4
Cost: 380,000 credits
Performance class: S1 (847)
My stats in Forza Horizon 5 will tell you that the 2014 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 is my most-used car. That’s only because I bought it first. The Aventador features the same catlike silhouette as the Huracán but is better in every way that counts, faster in terms of top speed, 0-to-60, and braking efficiency. Plus, it handles like a dream; you barely have to slow down at all for wider turns, and can near-instantly get back up to speed following the sharp ones. Trust me: You cannot go wrong with this marvellous thing. (Bonus points if you drive a wooden model.)
2015 Ferrari F12TDF
Cost: 500,000 credits
Performance class: S1 (884)
It isn’t a Forza game without a ton of Ferraris. In that regard, Forza Horizon 5 doesn’t disappoint. Personally, I’ve found driving these quintessential supercars — with their pesky real-wheel drive transmissions — is a lot like walking on waxed floors with wool socks. But the F12TDF might be the best Ferrari in Forza Horizon 5, on account of the fact that I can drive it from the start of the race to the end of one without crashing it several dozen times. Pretty car, too.
2017 Porsche Panamera Turbo
Cost: 150,000 credits
Performance class: A (767)
The Porsche Panamera isn’t the fastest car in Forza Horizon 5’s roster. It’s not even the fastest Porsche you can buy in Forza Horizon 5’s roster. (That’d be the 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder, which I can confirm also rips.) But some races and events require you to compete with an A-class car, rather than the S1- and S2-class cars that compose the upper echelons of your garage. For those events, you’d be hard-pressed to find a vehicle as fast — or as easy to keep steady — as the Porsche Panamera.
2016 Koenigsegg Regera
Cost: 1,900,000 credits
Performance class: S2 (966)
If you want to win on the straightaway, get yourself a Koenigsegg. The venerable Swedish supercar company has five vehicles up for sale in Forza Horizon 5, three of which (the 2015 Koenigsegg One:1, the 2017 Koenigsegg Agera RS, and the 2020 Koenigsegg Jesko) feature the highest possible top-speed rating a vehicle can have in the game. I’m partial to the 2016 Koenigsegg Regera, which is marginally slower but also marginally more affordable. Hey, every penny counts!
1969 Dodge Charger R/T
Cost: 103,000 credits
Performance class: C (548)
Bullitt. The Dukes of Hazzard. The Fast and the Furious. Fast and Furious 6. The Dodge Charger might very well be the most quintessential car in cinema history, appearing in a staggering 78 pages on the Internet Movie Cars Database. (Each page defaults to 30 items.) You’re telling me you don’t wanna take photos of this thing?
2019 Aston Martin Valhalla Concept Car
Cost: 1,150,000 credits
Performance class: S2 (959)
James Bond, a concept person, famously drives the Aston Martin DB5. But you, a not-concept person, should drive Aston Martin’s ballyhooed concept car. (A concept car typically refers to a vehicle that bucks design convention in spectacular ways while being unavailable for sale to the public.) Yes, the Aston Martin Valhalla was featured in Bond’s latest outing, this year’s No Time To Die, but c’mon, 007 didn’t even drive it. No one did! It just sat there, glorious set dressing for a sumptuous film that cared more about portraying luxury than giving an actual sense of it. The Valhalla deserved better.
1945 Willys MB Jeep
Cost: 40,000 credits
Performance class: Irrelevant
As of this writing, Forza Horizon 5’s best investment is a beat-up old Jeep. Yes, the novelty vehicle is slower than a turtle, handles like greased pig, and is vaguely reminiscent of the atrocities of war. But you can unlock a Super Wheelspin — a slots-like mini-game that grants you three randomised prizes, including the potential for rare cars and six-figure credit sums — with just five skill points. Fair trade if you ask me, except that one time I only earned a cumulative 45,000 credits.
2021 Mercedes-AMG One
Cost: 2,700,000 credits
Performance class: S2 (927)
Full disclosure: I don’t have the Mercedes-AMG One — the Forza Horizon 5’s cover star — in my garage. I’ve only driven it once, during the last stretch of the game’s edge-of-your-seat opening sequence. It was a dream, the thrilling apex of one of the most exciting setpieces in recent memory. As I mentioned on (shameless plug) a recent episode of The Optional podcast, I’ve spent the bulk of my time with Forza Horizon 5 wishing I could replay the intro, or at least recapture the feeling. Now, where can I get 2.6 million more credits…
2015 McLaren 570S Coupé
Cost: 224,000 credits
Performance class: S1 (824)
Most folks will tell you that the McLaren Senna is the best McLaren in Forza Horizon. After all, it was straight-up on the cover of Forza Horizon 4 (and if you played that game, you’ll get one free as a “loyalty reward” in Forza Horizon 5). Purists will tell you it’s the 1997 McLaren F1 GT, because it ran the table on the race circuit last millennium. I, however, will tell you that any of the three Coupé vehicles are the way to go. They’re fast and furious but cost a fraction as much as the marquee vehicles, with the 570S the cheapest. For comparison, the F1 GT has a price tag of 15 million.
1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe
Cost: 30,000,000 credits
Performance class: B (637)
This is the most expensive vehicle in the game. That means it’s the best, too, right?
(Note: I haven’t driven the 1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe. Despite dozens of hours with Forza Horizon 5, the cumulative total of all the cars in my garage is roughly two-thirds the price of this one.)