It’s time to talk names; specifically, those given to Ferrari’s. Long has been the tradition at Maranello to use numbers: F40, F50, 365GT4, 512BB – all have some resonance in the world of supercars. So why have they chosen to name what should be the F70 ‘LaFerrari’? It’s cumbersome, ungainly, ugly and – frankly – pretentious, and does no justice to what is a very beautiful design. I suspect that part of the reason for the name comes from the fact this is the first model from the factory since 1973 to have no design input from Pinninfarina. That is a notable fact, but it still doesn’t excuse the misplaced flamboyance of the name. Still, let’s imagine it’s an F70, and head forward from there.
The Fastest Ferrari Road Car Ever
That is the claim made by the factory – the LaFerrari is the fastest road-going Ferrari of all time. This comes about via it having lapped the company’s legendary Fiorano test track quicker than 1minute 20 seconds, and a claimed 217mph top speed is also impressive. The car can reach 62mph in less than three seconds, 124mph in under seven seconds, and the magical 186mph in just 15 seconds. These are supercar figures in anyone’s book, and take the fight firmly to the main rivals in the market sector (McLaren P1 in particular). Yet these are the sort of numbers we should expect from a top of the range Ferrari, so what else is there that makes this something other than ‘just another supercar’?
In the manner of seemingly all new supercars 9teh aforementioned McLaren plus Porsche 918 spring to mind) the LaFerrari is a hybrid; however, as with all hybrid supercars it takes a while to get to grips with whether there is anything remotely ‘green’ about this car. A 6.3liter V12 engine is the main powerplant and alone provides 789bhp, while the hybrid electric motor and KERS system take the possible maximum up to 950bhp. However, the benefit of the hybrid systems – in particular the Formula 1 inspired KERS – lies in the reduction in fuel consumption. Fundamentally, this is what hybrid supercars are all about.
The fact that this is the first Ferrari since the 308GT4 in 1973 (a Bertone design) to be developed without the input of the legendary Pinninfarina design house is significant. It is perhaps more significant that it features a monocoque body system developed by the very talented ex-F1 engineer Rory Byrne. This is a man who has helped Ferrari, and others, to numerous world titles, and his input here results in considerable improvements in torsional rigidity. For the layman, this means a car that will handle as well as it possibly can thanks to stiffness in the body and chassis, while also utilising carbon-fibre construction for added lightness. What may disappoint the purists is the presence of numerous electronic driver aids, including stability control, brake balance and traction control, but it should be remembered that the LaFerrari is not aimed at the everyday driver, rather a high-end clientele with designs on owning the fastest Ferrari ever.
Exclusivity and Price
So, we have excellent performance figures and, from those who have driven it, handling and response that is absolutely from the top drawer. That’s how things simply have to be these days thanks to the demands of the market, and the smaller, independent manufacturers building hand crafted cars that are raising the bar all the time. The LaFerrari is a winner in the performance stakes, looks great and, after all, is a Ferrari. The factory has stated that it will build 499 – we think that perhaps a little optimistic – and they will sell for in excess of $1,500,000 each. That’s about the going rate for a hypercar these days, after all. But, and it’s a big but, is the allure of Ferrari – the legend, the brand – still enough to make this the car that the super-rich hypercar buyer wants?
The competition has never been stronger, after all: the various ‘special’ Lamborghini’s all offer exclusivity of a different kind, upstarts such as Koeniggseg and Pagani have become sought after, and McLaren now has the P1, with more to come. There is something of a new era about the La Ferrari, and it has come out fighting. When it’s all said and done this is clearly a magnificent car, and takes the company to new heights in terms of technology and performance. However, for me, there is one, simple flaw: that name. ‘LaFerrari’ will always have overtones of pretentiousness in my eyes, and while that may not affect sales, I can’t help feeling that the more simple, sensible ‘F70’ would have given it more status in the market.