Though the SSC team claims a 15% gain in horsepower over the old car, according to our calculations the 104hp (78kW) gain over the 1,183hp (882kW) 2008-model car is only about 8%. It's still a very significant 8%, however, putting the Ultimate Aero in a league of its own.
The central change in the Ultimate Aero's powertrain that allowed the increased power is the use of a 1-piece billet aluminum engine block. This improves the strength of the unit, as well as the ability to deliver oil to the key components of the engine, which in turn allows the SSC engineers to turn the turbo boost up even higher.
Redesigned aerodynamics at the front end improve airflow while allowing for a higher top speed. With 20% more air reaching the radiators, cooling of the hyper-performance twin-turbo engine is much improved.
Other new features for the 2009 model include a carbon fiber rear 'AeroBrake' spoiler that deploys when slowing the car, a la the Bugatti Veyron. When the brake pedal is pressed, an actuator pushes the spoiler up an additional 8in, increasing resistance and downforce to shorten stopping distance.
Inside the car gets exposed carbon fiber aplenty, across the dashboard, air vents and doorsills and around the instruments and steering column. A new center console features a digital temperature readout, tire pressure monitor and Azentek PC base 'infotainment' unit.
SSC is also working on an all-electric version of the Aero, though no news on that car's development accompanies release of the 2009 model.