The future of the supercar has been under threat for a while now and it was clear from the very beginning that to survive, these high performance machines would have to go a metamorphosis of sorts. The emphasis was always going to be on cleaner and more efficient powerplants, but little could anyone foretell that switching to hybrids would actually turn out to be more boon than bane! Somehow, no one manufacturer manages to get the clear leap on the other when it comes to these sort of launches and that’s exactly what seems to have happened at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show with the world getting not one, not two, but three hybrid supercars from the most reputed names in the business.
While we already had a fair bit of an idea what the new Ferrari supercar was going to get to the table and McLaren had already showed off the P1 a few months earlier, the Lamborghini Veneno is what really took everyone by surprise. Built to celebrate the Raging Bull’s 50th anniversary, the Veneno breaks boundaries of imagination but at the same time you know it’s extremely outrageous in its approach. Ferrari may have taken the easy way out while naming its flagship, but it sure looks like the most exciting Prancing Horse to come out of the Scuderia’s gates in recent history. And there’s the McLaren P1 – a car with huge boots to fill from where they left off with the F1 all those years back.
Each of the three cars brings in its own aura and despite having conventional engines backed up with electric motors, each also carries forward the core legacy of its marque. The future of the supercar seems secured for now, but while these three battle it out to edge each other out on performance, even if by mere fractions of a second, the battle still rages for absolute domination.
The Enzo successor is fiercely impressive!
Anything that Ferrari does is big. And every ten years or so, comes an even bigger moment in the Scuderia’s history. In the 80s it was the F40, the 90s had the F50 and in the first decade of the new millennium they gave us the Enzo. This time though, there is no fancy name, no racy combination of letters and numbers – this time Ferrari is simply calling it as it is. Say hello to LaFerrari, the maximum expression of what the Italian maker of supercars is all about according to PR speak. Of course, that pertains to where Ferrari stands as of today and that means a whole lot of carbon fibre, mad levels of electronics and superior firepower under that sleek body.
So LaFerrari gets a 6.3 litre V12 that puts out 789 horses nestled neatly behind the cockpit and visible for everyone to admire under a smoked panel. But with the 160-hp electric motor bolted on as part of what Ferrari likes to call HY-KERS, the LaFerrari is good for a mind-numbing 949 horsepower and a colossal 900Nm of torque!
All that while adding just 330g/km of CO2 to the Earth’s atmosphere, which by any car’s standards, is extremely low. Ferrari claim that this new monster of a hypercar will do the 100km/h sprint in under 3 seconds and hit 200km/h in under 7! If you have the courage to keep it pinned further, 300km/h will take under 15 seconds and if you’re beginning to think that it’s all about straight line speed, then LaFerrari will take that notion and shatter it just as it did with the lap times at Ferrari’s Fiorano proving grounds.
This one clocks one lap in under 1min 20seconds – that’s a whole 5 seconds faster than the Enzo and 3 seconds quicker than the F12 Berlinetta, essentially making this the fastest road car Ferrari has ever built. As is the norm with most extremely high-performance cars these days, the backbone of the LaFerrari is a carbon fibre tub, but not just any tub of course. This one is made from four different types of carbon fibre, each hand-laminated and autoclave cured in Ferrari’s racing department using methods perfected on their Formula 1 car. The seats and battery compartment are integrated into the chassis to improve torsional rigidity and beam stiffness while keeping the weight low.
Ideal weight distribution was the most important factor when designing the LaFerrari which meant that the rear had to be biased with just 59 percent of the weight. So most of the components are situated between the two axles and are mounted lower. The driver’s seat is fixed and tailored to each owner’s specifications – the pedal box and the steering wheel are adjustable instead. The driving position is more like that of a single-seater racer and no surprise then that Ferrari’s F1 drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa played a huge role in the way the car’s interiors took shape.
The exterior design itself, is jaw-dropping – one that continues on from the Enzo, but still puts in enough surface changes and contours to make it look space age. It’s menacing to say the least, and makes its predecessor look like it was from a century ago! Probably the two areas that would really define the LaFerrari’s styling intricacies are the doors and the rear. Aerodynamics, with a very low drag coefficient have been achieved with complex CFD analysis and the use of their F1 wind tunnel. The entire look and feel of the cockpit and the controls is purely race-bred as well.
The Ferrari LaFerrari is definitely one of the hottest launches of the 2013 Geneva Motor Show and probably one of the most important ones in the Italian icon’s history. With so much technology in place, it’s bound to be amazing to drive as well. The only place we think Ferrari could have done better was with its name.
Space age, but can it live up to the F1's legend?
The trouble with being someone who made a car as mind-numbingly exquisite as the F1 is following it up with something even better. It becomes even more difficult if its been over 20 years since the F1 was unleashed and that’s exactly the mammoth task that McLaren Automotive faced when they planned the P1.
The concept was first shown at the Paris Motor Show and the production version of the P1 – which isn’t too much of a departure from the concept, made its way to the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. But unlike the McLaren F1 which took the world by storm in the 90s, the P1 actually seems better on paper than in the flesh. While the F1 stood out with its tag of being the ‘World’s fastest production car’, its central driver’s seat, titanium alloy tool kit and gold foil lining the engine bay, the P1’s biggest claim to fame is its 900Nm powerplant – which all of a sudden seems commonplace in the supercar realm thanks to the likes of the LaFerrari. That said, the P1 is no sitting duck.
With what McLaren terms as IPAS (Instant Power Assist System), the P1 sprints to 100km/h in under 3 seconds, 200km/h in under 7 seconds and 300km/h in no more than 17 seconds. To put things into perspective, those figures make the P1 all of 11 seconds faster to 300km/h than its predecessor and if it were not for the gentleman’s agreement that restricts the P1 to 350km/h we would have loved to see how much this new McLaren can top off at on the speed gun!
At the heart of the P1’s staggering performance figures is the smallest engine of the new breed of supercars – a 3.8 litre V8, though it is fed through two turbochargers and mated to a powerful electric motor to churn out a combined 916PS and 900Nm. The powerplant is pretty clean too with emissions of less than 200g/km – the McLaren P1 being one of the advocates for supercars in the modern world.
The P1 also brings in a lot of technology from Formula 1 and space exploration – in the form of DRS and an Akebono carbon ceramic braking system that is not only lighter, but also more efficient in dissipating heat and giving racecar-like stopping abilities.
McLaren has always been a company that believes in giving its customers a supercar that can be used on the track and on the road straight out of the box and that means the P1 can also be driven solely on electric power – for about 20km at an average speed of 30km/h. Before you start laughing at those puny figures, imagine the P1’s elegant curves parked in the heart of a European city with classic architecture in the background and more importantly, where regular cars aren’t allowed to enter these Zero Emissions Zones. Yes, that’s a pretty sight indeed!
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