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.
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.
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.
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...
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
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
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
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