If it wasn’t the new 903bhp McLaren P1 that grabbed you by the thorax last week, then it was the new Enzo – sorry, LaFerrari – that did so, boasting even more power, even more barking performance and an even more heinous price tag to go with it.
And that’s before you so much as mention Lamborghini’s latest £3 million Veneno, Koenigsegg’s £1.5 million Agera S or Audi’s proposed new hypercar, which may or may not become a production reality depending on who you talk to at VW. They all hit the headlines at Geneva.
Question is, though, do such cars have any kind of a point or meaning to them, beyond providing a means of alleviating boredom for the über-wealthy car enthusiast, or is that really all there is to them?
In most cases, I believe personally that there is a point to them, and that their existence can be justified quite easily. For several reasons.
One, in the case of the Ferrari and McLaren in particular, the technologies being pioneered in these cars will, there can be little doubt, make the cars of tomorrow safer, more efficient, faster (yes, probably) but also just better all round. And when I say the cars of tomorrow, I don’t mean the supercars of tomorrow – I mean the everyday cars in which the rest of us will mostly bumble about in.
Two, they will make the sports cars of tomorrow more affordable. What’s on the cutting edge today invariably costs a fortune to create, yes, but unless someone, somewhere ventures towards that edge and explores it, it will forever remain unattainable – and therefore way beyond expensive. But once the likes of Ferrari, Porsche and McLaren have pushed the boundaries at the extremes, everything else gets that little bit closer. And then, eventually, the man in the street will benefit.
Three, despite what some people may think, the idea of merely being 'into' exceedingly fast, obscenely expensive, deliciously loud, low and breathtakingly beautiful-looking cars is, for the most part, still fairly harmless. Some of us, in fact, still just like gawping at the things, because our very small brains are largely unaware of, and therefore mostly unperturbed by, the potential moral or geopolitical issues that they may arouse.
Four, they provide magazines like ours with some killer content. The new 950bhp Enzo may not be quite what’s required to ensure that world peace occurs any time soon, but as a car nut I can’t get enough of its 15.5sec 0-300km/h claim. And as a car journalist, I can’t wait to verify Maranello’s claims for the car, at Mach 3 on some deserted airfield in the middle of nowhere.
There are exceptions, of course. The Lamborghini Veneno strikes me as being little more than a gratuitous means of grabbing back some headlines from the others, without advancing the art of the road car one iota. Ultimately, it comes across as a rather cynical, spikey, vulgar-looking means of exploiting the faith of Lamborghini’s three richest, most loyal customers. That or else someone at Sant'Agata found a bin full of discarded bits of carbonfibre round the back of the factory just before the show, then decided to stick them together using red gaffer tape, while singing, “Anything they can do, we can do better…”
In the end, the current craze for hypercars is to be taken with a fairly large pinch of salt sometimes – of course it is. But it’s also a thing to celebrate, surely, as a car enthusiast.
After all, in 20 years' time the classic magazines will be writing about what happened at Geneva on 5 March 2013 over and over again. And already, that day will forever be referred to as yesterday.