Getting to Know the Ferrari LaFerrari

With the unveiling of Ferrari’s new hypercar, the LaFerrari (the name is questionable), out of the way, it’s time to get down and dirty with the new car and find out what it’s really all about.  Let’s start with the body, shall we?

Ferrari’s design team clearly did a wonderful job with the new shape and look of the car, as the LaFerrari was brought into the spotlight amidst ooh’s and aah’s from the previously-anxious crowd.  B
Ferrari definitely wanted to make something extremely innovative to match it’s new technology and function, but at the same time wanted to maintain a bit of a classical Ferrari look (which includes some inspiration from late-1960s Ferrari sports prototypes).  This was all achieved thanks to a sharply pointed nose that slopes towards the ground, and a low hood which emphasizes the shapes and lines of the car’s corners.  And with an added flare from all the aerodynamic features on the exterior of the car, the LaFerrari looks breathtaking.ut, the question of how this shape and design was achieved was definitely at the back of many minds.

And while the word “aerodynamic” floats around your head, the aerodynamic package on this machine is as impressive as the design and performance.  Active aerodynamics perform the jobs that keep the car planted on the ground to provide the incredible performance that Ferrari claims.  Up front, diffusers and a guide vane on the underbody generates necessary downforce while at the rear diffusers and a rear spoiler do the same.  The ‘active’ part of the active aerodynamics means that these devices all go about their business based on different performance conditions that are all kept in check by the LaFerrari’s dynamic vehicle controls.

And as far as performance goes, the latest from Maranello definitely doesn’t come short.  In the middle is a 6.3-liter V12 that was ripped out from the F12, then tweaked quite a bit.  The result of all that tweaking is 789 stallions produced at a remarkable 9000 rpm.  And apparently, the car can rev all the way up to 9,250 rpm.  Incredible!  Torque comes in boatloads as well, with 516 lb-ft of it churning up at 6,750 rpm.

However, the biggest story on the LaFerrari is the engine that the V12 is accompanied by.  Like the equally impressive McLaren P1, the Ferrari is a hybrid, meaning that along with the engine, the car is also powered by an electric motor.  However, the purpose of the electric motor is not for being eco-friendly (though the car does make 330 g/km of CO2, mind you), instead the extra motor is for the purpose of making the car more powerful.

The hybrid system actually features two electric motors, with one powering the wheels and the other taking care of the ancillaries, and also a battery pack stuck to the floor made up of cells from Scuderia Ferrari, the guys that make the F1 cars.  These batteries can be charged in one of two ways:  either under braking, even with the ABS active, or each time the engine produces more torque than’s needed.  All these electric motors are linked with the 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox in order to keep the weight distribution up to Ferrari standards.  The end result of the electric motors and the already potent V12 is a massive 963 bhp and a hair-raising 664 lb-ft of torgue.

These electric motors are accompanied by HY-KERS to make up the entirety of the hybrid system.  And, if you’re like me, the word KERS is quite the familiar name, as this system is derived from Ferrari’s KERS system used in it’s Formula One cars.  The way this car is made up, it’ll be like driving a street legal F1 race car.  And that’s quite fitting, as Scuderia Ferrari’s team drivers, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, played a very formative role in the testing of this car.

However, the hybrid system is not built to distract the fact that the LaFerrari is to be centered around performance and engineering excellence.  Hence the controversial name LaFerrari (which, translated from Italian, basically means the The Ferrari).  One of the main goals that Ferrari wanted to achieve with this car was ideal weight distribution, despite the fact that a pair of electric motors that weigh in at 60 kg overall are sitting toward the back of the car.

To achieve this goal, the Ferrari engineers have managed to focus the majority of the car’s mass in between the car’s axles.  Weight distribution, as a result, is near perfect with 59% at the rear.  Combine these ideal elements of balance and the result, Ferrari insists, will be optimal handling and compact dimensions on the car.  Again, F1 inspiration is seen in this element of design as even the seat puts the driver in a nearly identical driving position as the single-seater, and provides a very low center of gravity which, as we all know, is a component that makes for great handling (just ask any BRZ owner).

If you were to look inside of the LaFerrari’s cabin, your eyes would be immediately greeted by carbon-fiber weaves covering what seems to be every square-inch of the car’s internals.  But while on the inside this seems like a large amount of carbon-fiber, the amount of the cabin’s carbon-fiber pails in comparison to the rest of the car.

The chassis includes four different types of carbon-fiber throughout, increasing strength and rigidity while at the same time cutting weight.  The interior also includes brand new styling for the steering wheel, with more buttons to push that makes you feel even more like a Formula 1 pilot, and larger paddle-shifters.

It seems like it’s been decades since the announcement of a new Ferrari hypercar up until now, the point where we finally know what the car looks like.  However, even though we’ve known the important specs for quite some time, Ferrari did a grand job of keeping the car a secret.  Much better than McLaren, who didn’t really make much of an attempt, they just painted the car yellow and sent it to Switzerland.  Still, no complaints.

And while the automotive world debates over the name of the LaFerrari, in my opinion it’s better than stealing the name “F150” from a Ford pickup truck.  However, Ferrari explained the reasoning behind the choosing of the name LaFerrari, because this car, this incredibly expensive, mad man’s car, that can only be afforded by the one-percent of the one-percent, is the epitome of what the Ferrari brand name stands for.  The engineering expertise of Ferrari that’s exhibited on the Enzo 2.0 almost makes it seem like the other recent Ferrari’s, like the 599 and the 458, were, dare I say it, mere testing mules made for the sole purpose of inspiring something like this incredible machine.

So now, with the unveiling out of the way and the Geneva Motor Show over with, the salivating of enthusiast’s mouths will not be satisfied by merely seeing the car sitting on a stage, but instead by reading and watching it perform against fellow beasts like the P1 and the 918 Spyder.  Now, with these next-generation supercars sans camouflage and going into production later this year, it’s time to see what the hybrid supercar can really do.  #gamechanging – B.C.

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2 thoughts on “Getting to Know the Ferrari LaFerrari

    • The 918 probably won’t match up to much to the Enzo 2.0 because of the difference in power. However, the P1 only has 60 combined hp less, so it should definitely give the Ferrari a run for it’s money.

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