We drive the Ferrari LaFerrari, the 950bhp twin-engined Maranello machine with a name so daft it makes the marketing crack-heads behind Nissan’s Pantry Boy Supreme seem almost sane
What’s this about two engines?
This is Ferrari’s first ever hybrid road car, so you get a 6.3-litre V12 good for 789bhp – and then you top it off with a 160bhp electric motor feeding directly into the rear axle. It’s like a Led Zep-Daft Punk mash up. To put those numbers in perspective, the Enzo made do with 651bhp, and this V12 alone is more powerful than the combined petrol-electric drivetrain in the Porsche 918. But at 1425kg, LaFerrari is over 200kg lighter than the German, and only two-wheel drive. Even McLaren’s P1 only musters 903bhp. Crazy.
How does it charge?
Like a bull strapped to an Exocet missile. 0-62mph in well under 3sec, 0-186mph in 15, and a top speed the far side of 217mph. The acceleration is borderline painful, but so, so addictive.
No, I mean how do you charge it up?
Not by plugging it into the wall. The battery is located on the floor behind the seats, and is topped up through a combination of regenerative braking, which Ferrari says far surpasses the efficiency other hybrids deliver, and by syphoning off excess power from the V12, and sending it through a second motor, which can also work like a giant alternator. Ferrari claims the charge will never run out in real world conditions, either on the road or on the track. The only way you could flatten it would be to go to somewhere like Nardo and chase its 217+mph top speed for lap after lap.
Clever, but if this thing is a hybrid, how many miles can it go in whisper-quiet zero-emissions mode?
No miles whatsoever, because there is no EV mode. The petrol engine and electric motor work together every situation, hence the flower-wilting 330g/km of CO2. As Ferrari quite rightly asks, who in their right mind would want to buy a car that sounds this good, and then press the mute button and subtract 789bhp from the equation? You won’t find any kind of Fast and Furious-style push-to-pass boost button either, just an accelerator and Ferrari’s familiar manettino toggle on the steering wheel. The whole ethos of this car is to integrate the clever stuff into the traditional sports car experience, not make it centre stage.
What other clever stuff is in there?
Tech like the active aero devices. At the rear, there’s a large spoiler, hidden at rest, but deployed when downforce is needed. That spoiler is permanently linked to flaps in the diffuser, and both are operated by the same actuator. Together, they give 50kg of downforce in low drag mode at 124mph, but 230kg in max drag mode. Flaps at the front help maintain the aero balance, moving their position in response to changes with the rear aero kit.
All of this is handled by computers, which is good, because when you’re driving what feels like a 1000bhp 458 Italia, you want to be keeping both hands on the wheel. The big surprise is that the chassis isn’t remotely overwhelmed by the power. This is an easy car to drive, but it’s also easy to become desensetised to the speed and even with brakes as epic as these, find yourself arriving at a corner rather faster than you anticipated…
Ferrari’s test driver says LaFerrari has so much less downforce than the F1 cars that it arrives at the end of the pit straight at Fiorano travelling almost as fast. Speaking of Fiorano, this thing will circulate it in 1m 20sec, a massive 5.3sec faster than the Enzo.
Blimey! But surely a 950bhp rear-wheel drive supercar is going to be undriveable on the road.
Against odds that even Phil Collins wouldn’t take a flutter on, LaFerrari, turns out to be as manageable as its 458 baby brother. It’s bigger, certainly, and the visibility isn’t as good. Those lovely insect antennae that pass for wings mirrors create a massive blind spot at roundabouts. But it rides astonishingly well, which isn’t just great for spinal comfort, it means the car flows beautifully across the ground, carrying speed in places where a much harsher car (I’m looking at you, Aventador) would have to dial right back. LaFerrari’s traction is astonishing given there’s the bet part of 1000bhp trying to explode out of the rear axle, yet the balance is so good you can still switch off the ESP and slide it around like a 458. One of the biggest surprises is the steering, which is not always a standout Ferrari feature, but here is plain lovely.
So it’s a hit. Hurrah, I’ll have six!
Sorry to disappoint you, Sultan, but even at €1.2m plus taxes (call it £1.2m on the road guvnor, and I’ll throw in some mats – the floor is bare carbon as standard), all 499 have been sold. Ferrari hand-picked the buyers to try and weed out speculators too, so finding a used one might be tricky.
It’s difficult not to get carried away when presented with any car that’s as quick as this, but LaFerrari is a work of genius. The fact that the myriad pieces of technology that together make this car so go fast have been integrated so seamlessly, is the real achievement here. But the most exciting bit of all is that Ferrari will use lessons learned on this project to help define the 458 replacement we should see next year. It’s going to be a monster.