Cars Eco-tech

Oh La La LaFerrari!

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By Jody McCutcheon

With that signature blend of ferocious power and elegant luxury, is it any wonder that a Ferrari can turn kids into adults and vice versa? Kids who manage a rare Ferrari sighting will suddenly yearn to be old enough to afford the darn thing or even just drive it. Adults catching a glimpse will experience a giddy, kid-in-a-candy-store anticipation, hoping to see—and hear—some serious speed.

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Kid or adult, then, you’ll want to see LaFerrari, the fastest road car and first hybrid ever made by the Maranello-based dream-car makers. Debuting at the 2013 Geneva International Motor Show, the LaFerrari lines up against a couple other eco-friendly dream cars, McLaren’s P1 hybrid and Porsche’s 918 Spyder hybrid.

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LaFerrari’s powertrain is impressive in the way bodybuilders’ bodies are. A 6.3L, V-12 engine produces 789hp, not to mention that ferocious Ferrari roar, while an additional 161hp (120kW) electric motor bumps the totals up to 950hp and over 664lb-ft of torque. (The hybrid system uses two electric motors, one powering the wheels and one the ancillary systems.) Optimal integration of the two systems is achieved with a new technology called HY-KERS, a hybrid kinetic-energy-recovery-system designed to maximise performance and minimise emissions.

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In order to maintain ideal weight distribution and previous wheelbase dimensions, the hybrid system—including a 60kg battery pack—was mounted on the floor between the two axles. Weight distribution was maintained (59% rear, 41% front), and the centre of gravity was actually lowered by 35mm, resulting in improved handling. Excellent aerodynamics and a lightweight carbon-fibre body ease this beauty’s workload. The batteries are charged by braking, and by converting excess torque, as that generated from cornering, into energy that is stored in the batteries. Genius.

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As for performance, LaFerrari claims a top speed of over 350km/h (220mph), 0–100km in under 3 seconds, 0–200km in under 7 seconds, and 0–300km in under 15 seconds. Furthermore, it has the fastest lap of any road-legal Ferrari on its Fiorano Test Circuit, making it Ferrari’s fastest road car, while bringing it neck-and-neck with McLaren’s hybrid and slightly ahead of the 918 Spyder. No numbers are available yet on fuel efficiency.

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Where the LaFerrari does lag is in carbon dioxide emissions. While its 330g/km falls in the low range of high-performance sports cars, that value falls far short of the P1’s 200g/km and the Porsche’s 79g/km. And since the LaFerrari has no fully electric mode, it doesn’t offer emission-free driving. Ferrari is moving in that direction, though, with early prototype tests showing emission levels of 220g/km.

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LaFerrari’s project name is F150, but this ain’t no Ford pickup. Just look at the $1.3 million price tag. Only 499 will be manufactured, earmarked no doubt for transport fashionistas. The rest of us can only dream.



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