Ferrari's super fast hybrid lives up to all the hype

By Matt Greenop

The LaFerrari, a supercar packed with firsts, has been unveiled LaFerrari

Ferrari's hybrid 'hypercar' LaFerrari, as revealed at Geneva International AutoShow.. Photo / Supplied
Ferrari's hybrid 'hypercar' LaFerrari, as revealed at Geneva International AutoShow.. Photo / Supplied

The hybrid hypercar battlefield is getting crowded, with the wraps finally coming off Ferrari's new LaFerrari and McLaren's P1 this month at the Geneva motor show.

And the reaction to both - and Porsche's already-public 918 Spyder have dispelled any doubts that the supercar buying public would drop a cool couple of million for what is essentially a Prius for the go-fast set.

That's not to say the planet is going to be entirely thrilled by this new breed of machine - there are still some potent engines involved, and those types who move into the fast lane when they see approaching cars at over the posted limits will utterly hate them. But they're a hateful bunch.

The car is an absolute stunner, and the only thing that's really copped any criticism is the name. Imaging telling somebody at a party that you drive LaFerrari - you might as well own a LaCodpiece. But that's irrelevant when you look at the bigger, much faster, picture.

Ferrari had quietly drip-fed the world with info, in an interesting little stand-off with McLaren as it did the same with its P1. At the Paris Motor Show last year, Ferrari was rumoured to be ready to show the car, as would the Brits, but when Ferrari put nothing more than the car's carbon tub on display, McLaren showed theirs without opening the bonnet, or giving much spec away.

But they're all in the wild now, and Ferrari's hypercar looks like it will live up to the hype.

The rapidly-beating heart of this machine is based on the same mid-mounted direct injection 6.3-litre V12 that was fitted to the no-holds-barred F12 Berlinetta. That's hooked up to a dual-clutch gearbox and an electric motor. Packed in Kevlar and tucked under the two seats is 60kg worth of lithium ion batteries, with 120 cells. The V12 smashes its way to 9250rpm, making 589kW, and the electric motor tops it up with another 119kW. For the record, the everyday hybrid benchmark - Toyota's awkward-looking but rather trendy Prius - makes about a third less power than the electric gear alone, and the cars' weight is about the same at 1300-odd kilograms.

LaFerrari, and McLaren, Porsche et al, have redefined what hybrid means to most motoring enthusiasts, dragging it from being an almost-derisive insult to being an object of abject desire. The LaFerrari's 0-100km/h time is under three seconds, and it's good for over 320km/h. It laps Ferrari's celebrated Fiorano test circuit a full five seconds quicker than the legendary F60 Enzo.

Electric power has given the white coats in the Ferrari lab a bit of leeway with the drive system - it supplements low-end torque, which means the boffins get to let the V12 really breathe at the top-end.

A V12 at over 9000rpm is impressive, in anyone's books.

This car is packed with firsts, and one of the major achievements is getting HY-KERS - the system that the F1 team uses to recapture lost kinetic energy - into one of its production cars.

With braking and cornering forces used to feed power to the batteries, the system reduced emissions by about 40 per cent (it still only achieves 330g/km of CO2) and gave the V12 an extra 10 per cent.

By eschewing aluminium for an exotic mix of ultra-high end carbon fibre, the production of LaFerrari got even more complicated.

It's all hand laminated, with the suspension pickups and seats as part of the central tub structure, and the gull-wing doors made out of the same extraordinarily expensive carbon that the Scuderia's nosecones is created from.

The pedal box is movable, the seats aren't.

At the risk of sounding like a cliched automotive press release, fighter jet tech has been used in the aero development, and includes active aerodynamics that were hand-picked from the company's FXX concept. There's winglets at the front, and a retractable rear wing and spoiler with inlets and ducting all over the bodywork to pipe air into brakes, the two slanted radiators and generate lots of downforce.

The big question on hypercar fans' lips is whether the Ferrari will beat the McLaren or the Porsche.

That's one hybrid head-to-head that we'll definitely be waiting for.

- NZ Herald

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