Ferrari has effectively opened a second front in its war with McLaren, its deadliest racing rival, in revealing the £1 million replacement for its 10-year-old Enzo supercar, the exotically named LaFerrari. The car will make its first appearance in Asia at the Shanghai motor show, just weeks after its world debut at the Geneva motor show.
The significance of the LaFerrari name, says Maranello, is that the new model is intended to be ‘the Ferrari’, a car that packs every traditional Ferrari virtue into an ultra-modern envelope.
The similarities between the P1 and LaFerrari - codenamed F150 - are many: both are petrol-electric hybrids with total outputs in excess of 900bhp. Both claim an intimate relationship with Formula 1 design, based on a carbonfibre ‘tub’ chassis, though in a surreptitious swipe at the advanced carbonfibre structure of its rival, Ferrari bosses say they “want to make the best car, not the best carbonfibre tub”.
Both cars aim squarely at the title of the ‘best driver’s car in the world’, but whereas the McLaren costs £866,000, Ferrari — which claims to already have buyers for most of its LaFerraris — is charging €1.3 million per copy in Europe, or £1,040,000.
In another major point of difference, the Ferrari has a normally aspirated 6.3-litre V12 engine (a developed version of its F12 unit), whereas the McLaren has a twin-turbo 3.8-litre V8.
The pair’s performance is closely matched, with 0-60mph times of around 3.0sec. However, Ferrari claims a 0-300km/h (186mph) time of 15.5sec, a cool 1.5sec faster than the “around 17.0sec” claimed for the McLaren. On the other hand, Ferrari fails to quote a top speed, “because it doesn’t matter”, whereas McLaren is quite specific about its car’s 218mph top end.
Ferrari claims a simulated Nürburgring lap time of less than seven minutes and says F1 driver Fernando Alonso has lapped Fiorano in 1min 19sec on Pirelli P Zero road tyres, whereas the 599XX could do 1min 16sec on slicks. On those tyres, LaFerrari is expected to be faster still.
The Ferrari is around 110mm longer than the McLaren at 4702mm, and about 50mm wider at 1992mm, but a surprising 54mm lower at 1116mm. It also claims a relatively radical 59 per cent rearward weight bias, which engineers label “just about ideal” for a car like this. Ferrari also talks about a “compact” wheelbase of 2650mm and claims that careful packaging of major masses between the wheels allows the centre of gravity to be an impressive 35mm lower than an Enzo’s.
The driving position is similar to that of a single-seater and was designed after consultations with Alonso and team-mate Felipe Massa. The chassis tub is to be made in the autoclaves of Ferrari’s racing department, using four different types of hand-laminated carbonfibre and incorporating components such as seat bases and battery compartment into the main structure, whose torsional rigidity and beam strength is up 27 per cent and 22 per cent respectively against an Enzo.
LaFerrari’s styling — penned by Ferrari’s own design team under Flavio Manzoni, with no hint of input from the Pininfarina design house that has produced the majority of Ferrari shapes — is more angular than the swoopy P1 but is dominated by the dictates of the wind tunnel. The front splitter appears to hang from a single front pylon — a nod to F1 — and the air intakes are huge. However, Ferrari says there is still room to acknowledge the “gloriously exuberant” Ferrari sports car shapes of the past via the low bonnet and muscular arches.
The cabin, believed to be more race-orientated than luxurious, has an F1-style steering wheel whose driving mode manettino offers five different driving modes instead of the usual four.