by Michael Butler
The Ferrari. That's literally what Ferrari decided to call its first entry into the world of hybrid hypercars, and never has one red, prancing stallion deserved that name more. Mr. Enzo once said that racing is a great mania to which one must sacrifice everything, without reticence, without hesitation, and it's that ethos that spurred the team at Ferrari to design and build what would become The Ferrari, LaFerrari. Not only is the LaFerrari the first car in 40 years to be developed in-house, but it is the first Ferrari to make use of a hybrid powertrain. In true Ferrari fashion, it has nothing to do with economy, but all to do with power and speed. The highly-strung 6.3-liter V12 lurking under the engine cover must be one of the most intimidating and ferocious production engines ever offered to the buying public, and even without the aid of forced induction, manages to feel faster in a straight line than its great rivals, the McLaren P1 and Porsche 918. Only 499 of these cars were built, and they have almost doubled in value since launch. It's a thing of beauty and speed, and encapsulates what Ferrari is all about. Long live The Ferrari.
The planning for the ultimate Ferrari started in 2011 when Ferrari narrowed a selection of nine concepts down to five, of which three were in-house designs, and two were from design house Pininfarina. Having eschewed Pininfarina's options, the LaFerrari became the first Ferrari production model designed in-house in the last 40 years. As a nod to this unique design, the name Ferrari LaFerrari (literally meaning "The Ferrari") highlights that this is the last Ferrari model to feature a mid-mounted V12 engine, and the first one to make use of a hybrid gas/electric drivetrain. The car was finally unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show, and only 499 units were produced between 2013 and 2016. The LaFerrari features cutting edge tech such as a kinetic energy recovery system, which allows for short bursts of power, and was inspired by a similar system used in F1 cars. It also benefits from an active aero system for increased downforce.
The LaFerrari looks like something that could only have been created by the mind of a teenage boy in the midst of a Transformers and Monster energy drink binge. Whether it's on-screen, in print, or in real life, the LaFerrari looks like the future, and though looks were undoubtedly important, the engineers at Ferrari favored function over form. The LaFerrari started out in the same wind tunnels as used by Ferrari's F1 cars, which helped shape the car's aerodynamic design. The front splitter was designed to increase downforce while eliminating the negative effects of pitch sensitivity, while a broad front air vent channels hot air away from the large radiator. The front spoiler also creates compression on the hood, which helps to stick the nose to the ground. Channels behind the front wheel arches vent heat away from the braking system while simultaneously creating added downforce to the flanks of the LaFerrari. In the rear, Ferrari has fitted a pair of ram-air intakes on top of the rear wheel arches, which has increased horsepower by five hp, and the rear one-piece spoiler helps to hunker down that gorgeous Italian behind. The car's active aerodynamic system is controlled by a staggering 21 onboard computers that control features such as the retractable rear spoiler and front winglets. The active aero system can be set to low downforce for relaxed driving, and high downforce for full-frontal track attacks.
Ferrari hasn't tried to reinvent the wheel when deciding on the dimensions of the LaFerrari. Years of development on its other halo performance cars such as the F50 and Enzo has provided the optimum specs, and the LaFerrari sticks to the basic dimensions of the Enzo, give or take a few inches. Total length comes in at 185.1 inches, matching the Enzo inch for inch, and width is measured at 78.4 inches, 1.7 inches narrower than the Enzo. The car sits on top of a stubby 104.3-inch wheelbase, and its low 43.9-inch height is par for the course. The inclusion of a hybrid drivetrain and other tech, such as active aero, has added a few pounds to the LaFerrari, which has a curb weight of 3,495 lbs. That's 235 pounds heavier than the Enzo. The LaFerrari's weight distribution favors the rear by 59%, while the front carries 41%.
Like spaghetti and meatballs, Ferrari has been in a deep love affair with the color red. Since the 1920s, the Italian car builder has used it as their signature at international racing events, as did a number of other Italian manufacturers. Ferrari's red was named Rosso Corsa, which translates into Race Red. Apt then. This tradition was broken in 1961 when Oliver Gendebien, a Belgian driver, entered a yellow Ferrari 156, placing fourth behind three red Ferraris. Ferrari Red has stood the test of time to become one of the most recognizable and loved automotive colors of all time. It should come as no surprise then that the LaFerrari was originally only available in the famed Rosso Corsa, but Ferrari gave in to some of its more influential customers and added Giallo Modena yellow and Nero Black to the color palette. If it was up to us, we'd make owning a LaFerrari in anything other than Rosso Corsa a hate crime.
Stupendous. When Ferrari bestowed the name LaFerrari on this car, everyone knew that it was going to be something special performance-wise, and even the most seasoned supercar owner couldn't begin to imagine the performance on offer from this hypercar. We'll start with the numbers, because who doesn't like a good performance figure? Zero to sixty is obliterated in 2.5 seconds - 0.3 seconds off the Porsche 918; the LaFerrari will match the Porsche's quarter-mile time, which is consistently in the 9.8-second range, before going on to a top speed of more than 217 mph. Driver Raffaele De Simone managed to lap Ferrari's Fiorano circuit in only 1:19.70. With a combined power output of 950 hp, the LaFerrari sports a pound-per horsepower ratio of 3.7, besting the 918's 4.2. Despite being rear-wheel-drive, Ferrari's advanced traction control systems get the LaFerrari off the line in brutish fashion, and it will lay down its power with ruthless efficiency unless you want to break the rear out, which is done with a degree of extra throttle and the appropriate steering input. Driving the LaFerrari on public roads isn't as daunting as you'd think, but things can get hairy if extreme caution isn't used; the LaFerrari demands respect and focus every time you get behind the wheel.
At the heart of the LaFerrari lies a longitudinally rear mid-mounted 6.3-liter V12, which produces 789 hp at 9,000 rpm and 516 lb-ft of torque at 6750 rpm, and features goodies such as F1-derived variable intakes, an adaptive oil pump, which measures g-forces, and a compression ratio of 13.5:1. Forget anything you thought you knew about supercar engines: the naturally aspirated V12 in the LaFerrari shrugs at the offer of forced induction, and is a better car for it. In the hypercar race for superiority, some might consider the absence of a turbocharger or two a disadvantage, but the power delivery of this V12 is manic, and pushing it to its 9,250 rpm limit can only be described as a spiritual experience. To assist the LaFerrari's low-down torque delivery, Ferrari has incorporated its first hybrid-electric system ever, and in true Ferrari fashion, this system offers no eco mode and delivers maximum power all of the time. Ferrari calls its hybrid system KERS, or kinetic energy recovery system, and, when activated, boosts power outputs to a ridiculous 950 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. Whereas the McLaren P1 offers an all-electric mode with a range of up to 12 miles, Ferrari forces its poor buyers to make use of the V12 and hybrid system on a permanent basis. This partnership between old-school displacement, and modern gadgetry results in a relentless, unending rush of forward momentum, and corner exit acceleration that will make you spew your complimentary Ferrari breakfast faster than you can think about not trying to spew inside a LaFerrari. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is tasked with managing all that power, and it delivers telepathic shifts on track.
The LaFerrari is a full-blown race car: its powertrain and engine are connected to a carbon-fiber tub, and the suspension setup features carbon-fiber wishbones in the front, and electronically controlled dampers. Bringing this prancing horse to a stop is a set of massive carbon-ceramic brakes measuring 15.7-inches in the front and 14.96 inches at the rear. These tricks are supported by an active aero system to provide tons of downforce; you get close to 800 pounds of force at 124 mph when cornering, and at least 200 pounds when traveling in a straight line. Driving the LaFerrari at full tilt can be compared to piloting a race-prepped GT3 Le Mans car, only you go faster in a straight line. The combination of that stiff carbon-fiber tub, F1 inspired suspension setup, and 19-inch 265/30 front and 20-inch 345/30 rear tires deliver spine bending grip and responsiveness. The LaFerrari can be pointed with superb precision, and aided by that active aero system makes it feel predictable at the edge; but, the pure speed at which this car can travel demands that the driver stays alert at all times. We'll say this one more time: it's a race car, pure and simple.
This section is completely irrelevant, to be honest. The LaFerrari and its main rivals, the Porsche 918 and McLaren P1, are all built with one main purpose: to go as fast as possible with no regard for economy. And, if you ever have the privilege of owning one of these cars, you'll surely be able to afford a Prius to get you around when you're not driving your hypercar. Surprisingly, the EPA has an official gas mileage figure for the LaFerrari: you'll get 12/16/14 mpg city/highway/combined. The McLaren P1 makes the Ferrari look like a gas guzzler with a combined figure of 18 MPGe when assisted by the hybrid system, or 17 mpg when powered by gas only.
With performance levels in the stratosphere and such a high focus placed on weight savings and efficiency, the interior of the LaFerrari is a surprisingly comfortable and refined space to sit in. The first thing you'll notice is the F1 themed styling, which runs through the exterior and makes its way into the cabin. The centerpiece has to be the squared-off steering wheel, which closely resembles the ones found in F1 cars. Keeping with the theme of ultimate efficiency and performance, the driver's seat has been fixed in place so as not to disturb the fine balance of the car, but the steering wheel and pedals can be adjusted. Behind the steering wheel sits a large tachometer, and not much else. All non-essentials have been moved to the center console. As for interior features, you get a dual-zone climate control system that provides heating and cooling, an anti-glare rearview mirror, a digital clock, as well as a security system with immobilizer.
Ferrari doesn't provide official interior dimensions, but most average-sized adults will find the cabin of the LaFerrari to be a snug fit. There's enough legroom for persons up to six feet tall, but the low roofline can cause trouble for taller drivers. The seats are fused with the carbon tub of the LaFerrari, and due to their limited numbers, Ferrari will sculpt each individual driver's seat to match its owner's profile. Sitting in the used LaFerrari you just bought off of that 230-pound Russian oil-baron might not be as comfy as you'd like.
The LaFerrari's interior features all the usual suspects you'd find in supercars: you get leather seats, Alcantara on the steering wheel, and a massive dose of carbon-fiber. After all, most of the components feature the sturdy material in one shape or another. A massive carbon-fiber spine running through the middle of the cabin separates the two seats. The self-titled Ferrari's interior is beautifully finished, and all materials feel like a million dollars.
LaFerrari owners won't be taking any quick trips to the supermarket unless, it's for a pack of Marlboro Reds and a Redbull: the auto-open frunk of the LaFerrari comes across as an afterthought, and its total capacity of 1.4 cubic feet is a clear middle finger to those who even dared to consider daily driving their halo performance car.
Storage space on the inside isn't any better, and the driver and passenger each get a small door pocket for their pocket-contents, and there's a small passenger-side glovebox able to hold a phone or two.
Forget about features such as ventilated seats or a power sunroof - the LaFerrari is all about going fast, and most features revolve around getting this red rocket to the finish line as fast as possible. The most conventional exterior feature would be the heated power wing mirrors, but after that, it gets serious: you get an F1 wind tunnel-tested body with active front splitter and rear wing for increased downforce. Behind the forged lightweight wheels wrapped in Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires hide a set of carbon-ceramic brakes and an adaptive suspension system with full carbon wishbones in the front. The carbon-fiber tub ties all of these elements together with the V12 engine and hybrid system in the rear. Speaking of hybrid systems, the LaFerrari's KERS hybrid system provides short bursts of extra power and raises the total output from 789 hp to 950 hp. Inside things are more sedate: there's an F1-inspired steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, leather seats, cruise control, and keyless start. There are no advanced driver aids to speak of, but rain-sensing wipers and parking sensors are standard fare.
The LaFerrari has one of the most impressive audio systems we've ever come across - with a displacement of 6.3-liters and a 12-cylinder surround-sound system, you'll be listening to Ferrari's greatest hits on repeat, and it never gets old. Jokes aside, though, the infotainment system on the LaFerrari offers only the most basic of functionality. You'll be able to listen to your favorite radio stations on AM and FM, Pavarotti on CD or MP3, or via an aux/USB port. Bluetooth streaming also features on the LaFerrari. There's no mention of niceties such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto integration or SiriusXM satellite radio, however.
Ferrari announced in mid-2015 that they would recall certain LaFerrari models produced between 2014 and 2015 for a number of issues. Issues ranged from headrests that failed to meet certain safety standards, a tire pressure monitoring system that would give faulty readings (not what you want when doing over 200 mph), and finally, a faulty driver's side airbag that could do more harm than good when deployed. Ferrari covers the LaFerrari with the same basic three-year warranty and seven-year maintenance warranty as the rest of its range. Seeing as only 499 of these vehicles have been built, you can bet that Ferrari will pay extra close attention to the maintenance of these prized stallions.
No automotive safety rating agency would dare destroy THE Ferrari, so you won't find any official ratings for the LaFerrari on the internet. What you can be assured of is that Ferrari has made good use of its decade's worth of design and safety knowledge when it designed and built the LaFerrari, and while it might not feature modern active driver assistance features like pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control or forward collision avoidance assistance, it makes up for it with old school measures such as massive brakes, a good traction control system, and the fact that you won't want to have a conversation with your insurance after sliding one into a sidewalk.
The LaFerrari sports a few basic safety features that will hopefully keep your limbs in place in case of a serious accident or Wolf of Wall Street-style road trip. First of all, getting the LaFerrari to a stop will never be an issue thanks to a set of massive Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes supported by brake-force distribution and emergency brake assist. Rain-sensing window wipers clear the way in even the most serious track-day washouts, and standard cruise control will keep the LaFerrari going at any speed of your choosing. A tire pressure monitoring system and front and rear parking sensors add to the overall practicality of the LaFerrari (which isn't saying much), and an advanced traction control system will do its best to keep the LaFerrari pointing in the right direction. If the car were to end up wrapped around a tree, there are front and rear crumple zones, and the powertrain is designed to detach from the cabin completely. Passengers are cushioned by four airbags.
The LaFerrari isn't a good car - it's an iconic car that will go down in the annals of history, not only as the first hybrid performance Ferrari, but as one of the fastest and most exciting production cars ever built. The hybrid powertrain and active aero on the LaFerrari will improve as the years go by, but we're unlikely to experience the kind of naturally aspirated V12 power offered by this car ever again, which is just another reason why the LaFerrari will always be remembered. Cars like the F40, F50 and Enzo all represented the peak of Ferrari Design and performance capability for their time, and despite having been superseded, they still make most lists of all-time great supercars. The LaFerrari is destined to enter the gates of motoring Valhalla with its head held high, and its hybrid batteries fully charged.
Modern supercars such as the Ferrari 812 Superfast or Lamborghini Aventador SVJ tend to hover around the half-million mark, but pricing is mostly dependant on optional extras and exclusivity. When Ferrari release a limited run of a special edition car, you can be almost guaranteed that the price will only increase after the sale of the car is completed, so it will come as no surprise that the LaFerrari's price on the second-hand market hasn't gone down, but has grown substantially. When it first appeared on the market, buyers could expect to pay around $1,500,000. Still, if you're looking to buy one at the time of this review going live, you'll be looking closer to three million dollars, making it one of the most expensive modern supercars on the market. The McLaren P1 goes for just under $2,000,000.
There's only one LaFerrari. Sure, you get the LaFerrari Aperta, but it relinquishes some if its performance for a little bit of wind in the hair, which isn't what the LaFerrari is truly about. What then do you get when you buy a LaFerrari? Well, firstly, you get an absolutely insane high-compression 6.3-liter V12 engine and hybrid electric powertrain, which develops a staggering 950 hp and 664 lb-ft when their powers are combined. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed DCT transmission. The exterior gets forged lightweight wheels, active front, and rear aero, heated power wing mirrors, LED headlights, adaptive suspension, and a set of Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes. The interior of the LaFerrari is finished off in premium quality materials, and the fit and finish are world-class - but don't expect much in the way of features. You get a dual-zone climate control system, a basic infotainment system with radio, CD, aux and Bluetooth streaming, and an anti-glare rearview mirror. Safety features include emergency brake assist and cruise control.
6.3-liter V12 Hybrid
The LaFerrari has made numerous top ten lists for cars with the most expensive options, and our favorite is the available carbon-fiber front end, which will set you back $333,500; for that price, you could buy a Ferrari 488 Spider and still have a large chunk of change left. Other optional extras include smaller items such as Alcantara interior trim for around seven grand, carbon-fiber wheel caps for a cool $1,773, or embroidered prancing horses on the headrests for $1,329. These prices apply to the 2015 model. When it comes to cars at this level, optional extras can go a long way in increasing the value of a car, so if you feel guilty for wanting a pony stitched onto your LaFerrari's seats, don't, because it will pay off in the long run.
Ferrari built only 499 LaFerraris, and they have all been sold to high-priority customers who already own numerous Ferrari cars, so your only bet will be to look at your favorite auction and supercar dealer websites for one to pop up for sale. If we could turn back time, had the money as well as the authority, we would get one with the carbon fiber mirrors, sports exhaust system, Alcantara interior, and carbon-fiber dash trim. Practical options like anti-stone chipping protective film would also make its way onto our list. Do you really need to ask which color we'd choose?
McLaren and Ferrari took two different routes to end up at the same destination. The P1 bristles with tech and is motivated by a 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine, which produces 727 hp at 7,500 rpm, and 531 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. Its turbos provide more low-down grunt than the Ferrari. Throw in the hybrid electric powertrain, and that power figure shoots up to 903 hp and 723 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed DCT transmission. Unlike the LaFerrari's hybrid system, which is used purely for boosting performance, the P1 will allow you to drive for up to 12 miles in pure electric mode. According to McLaren, the P1 will hit 62 mph in only 2.8 seconds, 124 mph in 6.8 seconds, and cross the quarter-mile in 10.2 seconds. The P1 is limited to a reasonable 217 mph. The LaFerrari feels faster in a straight line, but the P1 has mountains of mid-range torque, and its power delivery feels slightly more manic. Around the track, the P1 feels stiffer and more direct but also somehow more refined - it also has a smoother gearbox. Neither cars are rich in creature comforts, but the P1 has a superior infotainment system and should be easier to live with. At this level, it's all about the driving experience, and for that reason, we'd stick with the Ferrari.
When Ford announced that they would start building a modern version of their legendary GT40, everyone stood up and took notice, although some didn't like what they saw. The biggest bone of contention was with the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine, which was considered blasphemous by hardcore fans who sorely missed the rumble of a V8. It may be down a couple of cylinders, but the GT produces a serious 647 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque. That is not quite in the league of the LaFerrari but, despite its power disadvantage, the GT manages to put up a serious fight with a zero to sixty time of three seconds and a quarter-mile time in the high ten-second range. The GT is better suited to the daily grind, but both cars are most likely to see very few city driving excursions in their lifetimes. The GT boasts a more comfortable interior and better features, but doesn't feel as focused. The driving experience between these two cars is worlds apart; the LaFerrari offers one of the most extreme production car driving experiences ever, while the Ford simply feels fast. The price difference between these two cars makes complete sense, then. While the Ford GT is a highly capable supercar, the LaFerrari is a hypercar in the truest sense of the word, and makes the Ford feel pedestrian even on its worst day.