Autocar's Steve Sutcliffe is one of the fortunate few to have now driven all three of the latest hypercars – so which one does he think is king of the hill?

Three very different hypercars, all unleashed upon the world at broadly the same time, with spookily similar levels of potential to amaze and entertain their lucky owners.

Never before has the uber-wealthy car enthusiast been so well catered for, and perhaps the most extraordinary thing about the latest chapter in the history of the hypercar is that most of them are already sold out.

2016 Geneva Motorshow: McLaren hint that next generation P1 hypercar could be fully-electric

The rarest will be the McLaren P1, with just 375 being made, then LaFerrari on 499, with Porsche hoping to find homes for 918 918 Spyders. All the P1s and LaFerraris are already sold while Porsche’s order books are “continuing to fill” we’re told.

Read: LaFerrari road test

Having been one of the very fortunate few to drive all three, albeit on separate occasions and in different circumstances, here are some initial thoughts about how they compare.

The Ferrari feels quickest in a straight line, just, followed closely by the P1 with the 918 being merely incredible back in third place. But the P1 feels torquier and therefore more explosive in the mid range than the Ferrari. Which is ridiculous considering how ballistic the LaFerrari feels between 5000rpm and its ear-splitting 9250rpm rev limiter.

But having driven it rather more extensively back in the UK just a couple of days after driving the LaFerrari (see the vid and read the story next week) I’m fairly certain that the P1 has an extra sense of surging madness to its acceleration between 4000-8500rpm that the more linear Ferrari doesn’t quite replicate.

The Porsche also feels more linear than the P1, less on-off if you will, and that’s basically the difference between the P1 having a smaller capacity twin-turbo engine whereas the others are normally aspirated and bigger in capacity.

Except it isn’t anything like as simple as that, because all three are, of course, aided in their propulsion by electric motors. And in the 918’s case there is four wheel-drive to improve the traction and trim any unwanted mid corner understeer as well.

What separates them mostly obviously here, though, is the way they harness and redeliver their electric power. In the 918 and P1 you quite quickly run out of e-puff if you drive them hard for sustained periods, and the only real way to get it back is to slow down a bit until the batteries can regenerate, mainly via the engine in the P1 (on a small throttle opening in a high gear) or via the brakes in the 918.

In the Ferrari, however, you harvest power all the time, and there is no 'e-mode' as such. As a result, you have access to the full 950bhp all of the time, which effectively means you have another couple of hundred horsepower to play for much of the time.

Watch: LaFerrari driven

All three have massively powerful brakes, but those of the P1 and LaFerrari definitely have more feel than the 918’s, especially at low speed. The Porsche feels heavier on its feet than the others generally, and from memory it understeers a touch more when you push it hard, again almost certainly the result of it weighing a good 200kg more than the P1 and around 250kg more than LaFerrari.

The Ferrari also makes the best noise – by far. Its V12 engine sings whereas the 918’s 4.6-litre V8 snarls and the P1’s twin turbo 3.8-litre V8 screams and whistles and fizzes. They each sound completely fascinating in their own individual way, however, so choosing the best noise – much like choosing the best handling set-up, the best steering and even the best car – is always going to be subjective ultimately.

Having said that, the P1 definitely feels stiffer and generates less roll than the LaFerrari, even in its most comfortable setting – but it also feels more refined somehow than the 918, which has the noisiest drive-train of the three.

All three have dual clutch auto gearboxes that work brilliantly, the P1’s being the smoothest during low effort, low speed shifts, the 918’s being the most violent during full bore shifts.

One day soon we sincerely hope we will put all three of these cars on the same piece of road, at the same time, and come up with The Answer.

But until then it would be naïve and just wrong, frankly, to do anything more but speculate – and celebrate three of the craziest cars there have ever been. So, until then...

LaFerrari

Price €1.2m (approx £1.15 million); 0-62mph Sub-3.0sec (claimed); Top speed “Above 217mph"; Economy na; CO2 333g/km; Kerb weight 1255kg (dry), 1345kg (approx) with fluids; Engine V12, 6262cc, petrol plus electric motors; Installation Mid, longitudinal, rear-wheel drive; Power 950bhp at 9000rpm; Torque 715lb ft at 6750rpm; Power to weight 707bhp/tonne (with fluids); Specific output 152bhp/litre; Compression ratio 13.5.0:1; Gearbox 7-speed paddle shift DCT; Length 4702mm; Width 1992mm; Height 1116mm; Wheelbase 2650mm; Fuel tank n/a; Range n/a; Boot n/a; Front suspension Double wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar, electronic adaptive dampers; Rear suspension double wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar, electronic adaptive dampers; Brakes 398/380mm, ventilated carbon ceramic discs, front and rear; Wheels 9.5jx19in (front), 13.0jx20in (rear); Tyres 265/30 ZR19 front, 345/30 ZR 20 rear, Pirelli P-Zero Corsa

McLaren P1

Price £866,000; 0-62mph 2.8sec; Top speed 217mph (limited); Economy 34.0mpg (combined); CO2 194g/km; Kerb weight 1450kg; Engine V8, 3799cc, twin-turbo petrol, plus electric motors; Installation Mid, longitudinal, rear-wheel drive; Power 903bhp at 7500rpm; Torque 664lb ft at 4000rpm; Power to weight 623bhp per tonne; Specific output 237bhp per litre; Compression ratio na; Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic; Length 4590mm; Width 1946mm; Height 1170mm; Wheelbase 2670mm; Fuel tank 64 litres; Range 479 miles; Boot 120 litres; Front suspension Double wishbones, hydraulic springs, electronic adaptive dampers; Rear suspension Double wishbones, hydraulic springs, electronic adaptive dampers; Brakes 390mm carbon-ceramic discs (f), 380mm carbon-ceramic discs (r); Wheels 9Jx19in (f), 11.5Jx20in (r); Tyres 245/35 ZR19 (f), 315/30 ZR20  (r), Pirelli P Zero Corsa

Porsche 918 Spyder

Price £704,000 (Weissach Pack edition); 0-62mph 2.5sec ; Top speed 215mph; Economy 94.1mpg (combined); CO2 70g/km; Kerb weight 1634kg; Engine layout V8, 4600cc, petrol, plus electric motors; Installation Mid, longitudinal, 4WD; Power 875bhp at 8500rpm; Torque 944lb ft at 4000rpm; Power to weight 535bhp per tonne; Specific output 190bhp per litre; Compression ratio na; Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic; Length 4643mm; Width 1940mm; Height 1167mm; Wheelbase 2730mm; Fuel tank 70 litres; Range na; Boot 110 litres; Front suspension Double wishbones, coil springs, electronic adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar; Rear suspension Multi-link, coil springs, electronic adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar; Brakes 410mm carbon-ceramic discs (f), 390mm carbon-ceramic discs (r); Wheels 9.5Jx20in (f), 12.5Jx21in (r); Tyres 265/35 ZR20 (f), 325/30 ZR21 (r), Michelin Pilot Cup 2

Read our LaFerrari first drive here.

Read our McLaren P1 review here.

Read our Porsche 918 Spyder review here.

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Our Verdict

Ferrari LaFerrari
LaFerrari was one of the most anticipated cars of 2014

The Enzo’s successor is finally here. The LaFerrari costs over £1 million and has a 950bhp hybrid V12, but just how good is it? Steve Sutcliffe straps in to see

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Comments
22

29 April 2014
but is there a clear winner here? Tough call between McLaren P1 and LaFerrari.

30 April 2014
Clear winner is the Fezza. 950 hp always on tap. The mere notion of an economy or low emissions mode in a supercar is completely absurd. Also, no owner will ever care about reliability, usability or durability; that's for cheap cars, out there in (non-Gulf) Loserland. Next time, when oil tanks, we'll ditch the Duracells and get back to normal.

30 April 2014
What is the technical reason for the 3 cars to still require double clutch gearboxes? I kinda thought that with the torque produced from the electric motors to smooth out gear changes that a lighter single clutch unit could be applied thus offsetting some of the weight of the electrical system

XXXX's intellect just went POP!

30 April 2014
Because whatever you do to a single clutch gearbox, it has to stop the power delivery, disengage clutch, change gear and reingage clutch and that always takes longer than a twin clutched continually engaged powertrain, which is faster changing and , more importantly smoother, without the peak shock loads of the single clutch box. Twin clutch boxes can be fast AND smooth, single clutches fast OR smooth.

30 April 2014
concinnity wrote:
Because whatever you do to a single clutch gearbox, it has to stop the power delivery, disengage clutch, change gear and reingage clutch and that always takes longer than a twin clutched continually engaged powertrain, which is faster changing and , more importantly smoother, without the peak shock loads of the single clutch box. Twin clutch boxes can be fast AND smooth, single clutches fast OR smooth.
I was thinking that you took a very very good single clutch gearbox like the one from a F430 Scuderia which was lightning quick (if a little brutal) you could utilized the torque from the electric motor to sustain the momentum during gear changes thus smoothing out the process and negating the benefits that the dual clutches have.

XXXX's intellect just went POP!

30 April 2014
I'm amazed how testers believe they can judge the performance difference on the straight in cars especially when on paper the raw figures are so close. Then you drive them at different times and on different roads, I'm amazed how calibrated their backsides are. Factor in the raw speed of the cars and the whole theatre of it, im amazed unless you really did drive them back to back or side by side (drag, not just standing but rolling from different speeds) that you could really say. Look at the amount of Joe publics who think their diesels are rocket ships because of the torque delivery skewing the actual performance. So can you say the La F is faster just with 5% extra power. Thats before you factor in whos got the best (quickest) box, best aero(which had a massive effect at the speeds these cars achieve unlike a normal shopping cart), best traction etc etc. I'm no where near Steve, let alone probably his mother on driving talent but i'd be hard pushed to tell the difference between a hatch with 250bhp and 260bhp and at least cars like that give you some thinking time to take the performance in. Guess we will never know unless Autocar/EVO/Pistonheads ever find some friendly owners.

30 April 2014
The LaFerrari, along with the P1 and 918, are the current pinnacle of hypercars. They may not be the most powerful or the fastest of the breed, but there is so much more than simple brute force to define this class of car and these 3 cars have effectively rewritten the book on what a hypercar should now be about. They have not just evolved massively from their predecessors but they have been elevated beyond almost every other class rival who have continued to focus on performance and the wow factor which use to be enough for hypercars in yesteryear. Also of importance is that the LaFerrari, P1 and 918 are hypercars that are more than worthy of their elevated pricing and positioning above the class below, a class which has seen power. performance and technology progress at a vast rate of knots in such a short space of time, resulting in cars like the 911 Turbo, 458 and 650S eclipsing hypercars from only around 10 years ago and questioning the standing of other current hypercars who offer very little above and beyond these supercars, bar the wow factor and a much higher price tag. As great as they look, feel and sound, the likes of the Aventador, Veyron and Huayra for example offer little more beyond performance than these supercars while they could now be seen as hypercar dinosaurs. There'll be no doubt that the LaFerrari, P1 and 918 will have successors and it makes you wonder what sort of cars these will be to eclipse their startling and game-changing predecessors.

30 April 2014
Lanehogger wrote:
The LaFerrari, along with the P1 and 918, are the current pinnacle of hypercars. They may not be the most powerful or the fastest of the breed, but there is so much more than simple brute force to define this class of car and these 3 cars have effectively rewritten the book on what a hypercar should now be about. They have not just evolved massively from their predecessors but they have been elevated beyond almost every other class rival who have continued to focus on performance and the wow factor which use to be enough for hypercars in yesteryear. Also of importance is that the LaFerrari, P1 and 918 are hypercars that are more than worthy of their elevated pricing and positioning above the class below, a class which has seen power. performance and technology progress at a vast rate of knots in such a short space of time, resulting in cars like the 911 Turbo, 458 and 650S eclipsing hypercars from only around 10 years ago and questioning the standing of other current hypercars who offer very little above and beyond these supercars, bar the wow factor and a much higher price tag. As great as they look, feel and sound, the likes of the Aventador, Veyron and Huayra for example offer little more beyond performance than these supercars while they could now be seen as hypercar dinosaurs. There'll be no doubt that the LaFerrari, P1 and 918 will have successors and it makes you wonder what sort of cars these will be to eclipse their startling and game-changing predecessors.
I agree in part with your assessment, but when all is said and done, it's really only the P1 that has moved the hypercar game on to a different level, just like its predeceeor, the F1, did 20 years ago. The 918 and LaFerrari are comendable acheievments and they share the game-changing approach to drivetrains, but the P1 has also excelled in other areas like engineering, technology and aerodynamics, leaving the Ferrari and Porsche as also-rans like the other hypercars in those respects. The 918 and LaFerrari are just a natural evolution beyond the Carrera GT and Enzo they replaced respectively but the P1 is so much more, way beyond even the legendary and groundbreaking F1. It's a shame Jaguar didn't go any further with the C-X16 as that would have equalled the P1 in moving hypercars forwards.

30 April 2014
I find this whole thing very odd indeed,when Steve drove the 918 then the P1 my word we had hyper bole,the 918 was from another world then the P1 came and that was so much better it was the king.Now La Ferrari comes along and how I read it this car is so much better,the power is there all the time no need to slow down until you have more power,the ride is so good and so on.But Steve can not tell us which is the best.I am sorry but this is bull shit,i think there is some thing going on here,i do not know what,but.

30 April 2014
Roadster....................Only the P1 redefines the genre..................................................................... when all is said and done, it's really only the P1 that has moved the hypercar game on to a different level, just like its predeceeor, the F1, did 20 years ago. The 918 and LaFerrari are comendable acheievments and they share the game-changing approach to drivetrains, but the P1 has also excelled in other areas like engineering, technology and aerodynamics, leaving the Ferrari and Porsche as also-rans like the other hypercars in those respects. The 918 and LaFerrari are just a natural evolution beyond the Carrera GT and Enzo they replaced respectively but the P1 is so much more, way beyond even the legendary and groundbreaking F1............................................................................................. Why is the P1 the greater achievement,?? Don't get me wrong I think it's brilliant but what makes you say that the P1 is better engineered than the other two, is there any proof of this other than it being just a personal opinion? Why would you say that the P1 is technically superior when the 918 clearly has the most complex drive train of the three when you take the necessity for calibration between the engine and electric motors and the P1 is the only one of the 3 to have not attempted regenerative brakes? The Ferrari is the only one of the three to have changed the cabin space to the benefit of aerodynamics, packaging and driver involvement and would appear to have made regenerative brakes a real working proposition, Porsche clearly has a bit of catching up to do! Yes the P1 is capable of producing more downforce but neither the 918 or La Ferrari have resorted to the size of rear wing that the P1 has utilized. The 918 is the most likely of the three to have it's tech passed down to mainstream cars so surely this would be the more important achievement?? Feel free to prove your theory correct

XXXX's intellect just went POP!

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