Before everyone gets too excited about the McLaren P1, let’s not forget that the British sportscar firm’s main rival both on and off track, will always be there to throw a spanner in the works. This year’s Genenva fair was no different, and Ferrari had arguably the biggest star of the show on its stand: the rather stupidly named, but seriously hardcore, LaFerrari.
The LaFerrari is the Italian marque’s replacement for the ten-year-old Enzo and has some serious credentials to take on the P1. It, like the Macca, is a petrol-electric hybrid, and it, too, has a peak power output in excess of 670 kW. It’s also been developed with a heavy Formula One influence, including the use of a carbon fibre tub chassis. And, in undoubtedly the most significant similarity to the P1, Ferrari is also calling its car “the best driver’s car in the world”. It is, however, a bit more expensive than the McLaren at just over R14,5 million – that’s about R2,5 mil more than the British car.
The name, as unappetising as it may be, is significant, too. Ferrari reckons it’s thrown everything that traditionally defines what a Ferrari is into supremely modern package. It’s the epitome of Ferrari according to the firm – “the Ferrari”.
While the two cars’ performance is closely matched, how they get there is rather different. Where the McLaren features a force-fed 3,8-litre V8, the Ferrari makes use of an atmo 6,3-litre V12. However, both will get to 100 km/h in around three seconds. The 300 km/h mark, though, will arrive 1,5 seconds faster if you’re piloting the Ferrari. That said, Ferrari is keeping its top speed a secret, apparently “because it doesn’t matter”, where McLaren has been open about its 350 km/h figure. Both cars are claimed to have lapped the Nürburgring in less than seven minutes.
The Fezza is a bigger car than the McLaren, albeit a tad lower, being 110 mm longer and 50 mm wider, but 54 mm lower. It’s also said to boast a 59% rearward bias, which the Italian firm’s engineers claim is perfect for a car like this. The packaging of heavier components between its 2 650 mm wheelbase also allows for a centre of gravity 35 mm lower than that of the Enzo.
The styling of the LaFerrari – untouched by Pininfarina, the firm that has styled the majority of the Prancing Pony’s beasts – is dominated by aerodynamics. It’s much more angular than the curvaceous P1 and, in a further nod to the world of F1, the front splitter hangs from a single pylon. It’s also important to note that Ferrari F1 drivers, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, were consulted for input into many aspects of the car’s development.
Like the P1, the cabin is more race oriented than luxurious, although one could arguably say the P1 paid a little more attention to driver comfort. But, like the P1, sophisticated active aerodynamics define the LaFerrari. Depending on speed and attitude, the LaFerrari’s aero bits adjust automatically, including a moveable diffuser as well as moveable components on the rear wing. According to Ferrari, the brief was to deliver “the highest degree of aerodynamic efficiency ever achieved with any road car”. We reckon the lads at Woking might have a thing or two to say about that… Bear in mind that the P1 produces a maximum of eight times the downforce generated by the MP4-12C. The Ferrari does happen to be lighter than the P1, though, with a claimed kerb weight of just 1 255 kg.
The Ferrari’s midships V12, a highly tuned version of the F12 Berlinetta’s engine, produces 588 kW by itself, with an added 120 kW from the electric motor for a combined outpit of 708 kW, pipping the P1’s total output by about 30 kW. Torque is also higher in the Fezza, with 970 Nm on tap. Both figures are approximately ten per cent greater than those of the Macca, but this is hardly noticeable until the cars are exceeding speeds of 250 km/h.
The Ferrari is only slightly less exclusive than the McLaren, with a production run of 499 units. Although the date for first deliveries is still a mystery (Ferrari says this is a two-year programme), most of the LaFerraris that will be made already have owners.