by John Tallodi
Ferrari LaFerrari, so good they named it twice. The LaFerrari is the first hybrid supercar from Maranello and its most powerful road car ever. Built in limited numbers and offered to a select few existing clients, exclusivity was part of the package too.
Production started in 2013 and a total of 499 coupes were manufactured, acquiring one of them today still requires knowing the right people in the right places.
The LaFerrari may be a focused road-based track machine but the interior is finished in top quality materials and the fit and finish is as good as any other ‘normal’ Ferrari in the range. The F1 theme runs like a common thread throughout the cars exterior and interior design.
The steering wheel is covered with toggles and switches, very much in keeping with the Formula 1 design, and now common in other contemporary Ferraris. The driver’s seat is fixed in place so as not to upset the handling balance, to get comfortable the steering wheel and pedal box can be adjusted to suit.
All non-essential controls have been moved away from the central binnacle and the default view is a large rev counter right in the center of the digital instrument panel. The seats are tight-fitting and provide excellent support, visibility is excellent unless you want to see what is behind you, a common issue in any mid-engined car.
The LaFerrari employs some very advanced aerodynamics and electronic chassis control systems to ensure that all of that substantial power can be effectively harnessed. The level of grip and sheer handling ability available makes attempting to find this Ferrari’s limits on public roads a dangerous and highly illegal pursuit.
In the confines of a race track, where the LaFerrari can be let loose, it reveals a level of controllability at the limit that would seem unachievable in a rear-wheel drive car with so much power. The low mounted hybrid system aids the low center of gravity and all that active aero starts to work more effectively as the speeds rise.
Compared to the all-wheel drive Porsche 918, the LaFerrari may require more driver skill and focus to extract the best out of it but it also provides a level of feedback and involvement that makes each drive an event.
The LaFerrari is equipped with a 6.3-liter V12 gasoline engine which makes 789 horsepower and 520 lb-ft of torque, this is supplemented by an electronic motor which adds another 161 hp to offer a combined total of 950 hp and 664 lb-ft.
Unlike in the McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 hybrids, this system is purely for additional performance and the LaFerrari does not offer an electric only driving mode. All of this immense thrust is channeled to the rear wheels through a 7-speed dual-cutch transmission.
The claimed 0-60 mph time is stated as under 3-seconds, the traction limitations of its two-wheel drive setup may see it trail the very fastest machines to this benchmark but even the ballistic 918 will be trailing it once speeds hit triple digits. Top speed is listed as more than 218 mph, largely academic but good to know for those ambitious overtaking maneuvers.
Seeing as the LaFerrari claims a fuel consumption reduction of 40% compared to a conventional gas-powered engine with similar performance it is valid to point out that the city/highway ratings for this hypercar are 12 and 16 mpg respectively. Not exactly Prius rivalling but there you go.
Navigation, climate control, LED lighting and other convenience and luxury items have not been axed in the name of ultimate performance as has been the case with the F40, F50 and Enzo before it. This makes the LaFerrari that much easier to live with if one were ever to be used more than just a handful of times a year.
Performance systems include carbon ceramic brakes, adaptive dampers, active aerodynamics, a third-generation electronic differential and EF1-Trac an electronic traction control system integrated into the hybrid system.
Cars like the LaFerrari come around every decade or so to mark a new highpoint in automotive design, most will be hidden away as investments, their amazing abilities never fully explored.
Most of these advances made in aerodynamics, chassis design and hybrid powertrains will be implemented in more mainstream models in the future, as for the LaFerrari, it will continue to be that unattainable dream for all but the select few.