We shouldn’t forget that there’s another new hybrid hypercar in the offing, too – the Porsche 918. Strangely, Porsche opted not to show one off at Geneva, concentrating on the new ‘991’ GT3 instead, but it’s fair to say that the 918 struggles to match the McLaren and the Ferrari, on paper at least, largely as Porsche’s engineers had to chase an extremely aggressive CO2 target.
The 918’s mid-mounted V8 produces 580bhp in its own right, with separate electric motors front and rear boosting that to a total of 784bhp. That means four-wheel drive, but also the heftiest 1640kg kerb weight, of which 300kg is batteries. Porsche hopes to produce 918 cars, with a price tag of €718,000 (c£618,000).
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Perhaps the venerable Bugatti Veyron will remain more of a threat. There’s no doubt that the new challengers will be quicker over a lap of almost any track – both Porsche and Ferrari have said their cars will lap the Nordschleife in under 7min. But the Veyron can still claim both the most powerful drivetrain and the highest top speed.
Both companies have produced radically different hybrid systems. The LaFerrari has an ultra-compact battery pack and its electric motor behind the gearbox, delivering torque to the rear diff via a reduction gear. The motor can spin at up to 18,000rpm, although its contribution reduces at higher speeds. The P1 (left) uses a motor integrated into the engine casing that effectively drives the flywheel, meaning its efforts are channelled through the gearbox with those of the V8. The P1’s bulkier battery pack sits upright behind the passenger compartment, rather than under the floor.
How to sell a £1million hypercar
Ferrari is an absolute master at selling highly prized limited-run cars. But with 499 LaFerraris to shift and more direct rivals than ever before, it needed to be on top of its game. This is how it pulled it off.
Firstly, forget phoning up your local dealer and handing over a deposit: you had to be invited to buy a LaFerrari. Ferrari told evo that it wanted customers to own at least five Ferraris just to get onto the list of invitees. That’s not even one after another, but five currently in your garage. You also needed to be what Ferrari terms a ‘Ferrari brand ambassador’ and be known to company chairman Luca di Montezemolo. In other words, you had to be the ‘right sort’, someone who wouldn’t instantly put their LaFerrari up for sale in the classifieds.
If you met all of the above criteria, you were then invited to a secret preview of the LaFerrari at the factory. These were held for two or three buyers at a time, starting in February this year. Attendees were given a tour of the factory, including the usually secret F1 division, and then shown the LaFerrari itself. Afterwards, you had lunch in di Montezemolo’s private dining room where, in between glasses of Chianti, Luca would subtly ask you whether you’d like to buy one.
By Geneva, around 350 invitees had already said yes, with Ferrari saying at the show that the remaining cars would all be sold by the end of March. With each car costing €1million (c£860,000) before taxes, Ferrari is bringing in €0.5billion from the project in total. I bet it was a nice lunch…
This is proper once-in-a-generation stuff. It’s rare that we’re inundated with new top-level supercars, but that’s exactly what’s about to happen. From the numbers published so far, it seems the Porsche is going to struggle to compete on equal terms. But while Ferrari and McLaren have adopted very different strategies, both have reached similar conclusions in terms of overall performance. Which will be quicker? At the moment, it’s too close to call, but it’ll be fun finding out.
Perhaps the more relevant question is how much quicker will the P1 and the LaFerrari go than their once-definitive predecessors, the F1 and Enzo? Will they form the high water mark in terms of performance? That’s been predicted several times before, of course – and each time the industry has responded with something faster and madder.