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.