It may have one of the most uninspiring names in automotive history, but the LaFerrari, the long-awaited replacement for the Enzo, is destined to be one of this decade's great cars. Unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, the LaFerrari is the product of years of research, including the famous and ludicrously expensive FXX program, as well as collaboration with the University of Modena. Like the Enzo, it has been styled by science rather than artistry, and again this has resulted in a product that, while not beautiful in the traditional sense of the word, is still striking.
Mechanically, Ferrari has done with the LaFerrari the same thing that Porsche has done with the 918, McLaren has done with the P1, and Lamborghini has done with the new Veneno: make it into a hybrid. The Ferrari's 6.3 liter V-12, similar to the one found in the F12, is nothing unfamiliar to fans of the Prancing Horse but what is new, at least on a Ferrari production car, is the hybrid kinetic energy recover system (KERS) that captures energy under braking or when the V-12 is producing excess power and stores it as electricity. A battery pack in the car is connected to two electric motors that Ferrari developed along with Magneti Marelli, one of which powers the car's interior accessories while the other boosts the thoroughbred gasoline engine. Since the KERS system always runs in conjunction with the engine and never on its own, it can be classified as what is being called a "mild hybrid".
What does all this gadgetry do for performance? The reworked V-12 on its own makes 789 horsepower by itself, certainly enough to blow the doors off of almost anything else on the road, but the boost from the whiz-bang electronic motor makes an extra 161. That brings the combined total to 950 horsepower, significantly more than the LaFerrari's hybrid rifvals from Porsche, McLaren and Lamborghini. The engine also revs to an incredible 9,250 rpm, and makes for a sound that everyone should hear before they die.
The now almost standard use of carbon fiber throughout has also brought the weight of the new hypercar to 2,800 pounds, roughly the weight of a two-door Honda Civic. With so much power on tap and with such little weight to propel, it's no surprise that 0-60 miles per hour comes in well under three seconds and top speed is around 220 miles per hour. Braking and handling, meanwhile, are sure to be similarly epic.
The LaFerrari is no doubt going to be an insider's car. Ferrari has said they will only make 499 examples, and with a price tag of well over $1 million they will always be collectible and possibly even investment pieces. Initially, they will go to Ferrari's richest and most loyal customers. After that, they will probably change hands rarely. That unforgettable shape will therefore decorate far more bedroom walls than it will garage spaces, so those of us lucky enough to see and hear one in person can count ourselves truly lucky. The LaFerrari may be incredibly high-tech and very scientific in its execution, but although it does so in a different way, it exemplifies Ferrari's master craftsmanship and incredible attention to detail as well as any car from the company's storied past. Now, if only it didn't have that stupid name.