Ferrari Builds the Ultimate Supercar

The awe-inspiring performance of the $1.4 million, 949-hp LaFerrari is matched only by its visual force.
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The awe-inspiring performance of the $1.4 million, 949-hp LaFerrari is matched only by its visual force.
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It’s a species of automobile that most people will never see in their lifetime, let alone drive. But that doesn’t stop Ferrari from hatching Fabergé eggs like the LaFerrari: cars so exclusive that even celebrities find themselves on the wrong side of the velvet rope.

LaFerrari translates, simply enough, to “the Ferrari.” In other words, the company is not so subtly declaring that this is the Ferrari, the $1.4 million manifestation of its philosophy, technology, and design heritage. That heritage includes a line of such true Ferrari supercars as the GTO, F40, F50, and the Enzo Ferrari. And securing a spot in that pantheon means the LaFerrari must smite those that came before.

To pull that off, Ferrari’s engineers sought inspiration from the electric power that propels Formula 1 racecars around the track. The hybrid engine they created for this street-going Ferrari packs 949 horses—that is, about 200 more than those F1 racers. 

These total system horses arrive with a one-two punch: a 789-hp, 6.3-liter V-12 mated to a 160-hp electric motor. A seven-speed, dual-clutch automated manual transmission sends abusive force to the rear wheels, right up to a shrieking 9,250 rpm redline. Regenerative brakes suck up energy and return it to a lithium-ion battery that actually helps support the car’s carbon-fiber structure. That feathery material, created in the same autoclaves as Ferrari’s F1 cars and hand-assembled by engineers, helps hold curb weight to 3,285 pounds.

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It also gets centerfold exposure inside the LaFerrari’s cabin, accessed via a set of wing doors. Inside, drivers perch limbo-low with only custom-fitted padding between their bulging, um, wallets and the carbon tub—the better to feel the physical forces assaulting their bodies. Pilots manage most of the Ferrari’s techno-array via a squared-off F1–stylesteering wheel, including the manettino switch that toggles settings for the throttle, transmission, and electronic rear differential, as well as the F1 stability and traction systems. 

The result? A 2.9-second surge to 60 mph, a sub-10-second quarter mile at more than 150 mph, and a top speed of 217 mph.

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But the car’s animalistic performance stats are beautifully juxtaposed with its impeccable design. A fighter-jet greenhouse perches atop a voyeuristic assemblage of swoops, ducts, curves, and valleys. Side-view mirrors protrude like a set of Martian antennae. A dizzying array of active aerodynamics—including underbody flaps and a saucy rear wing—unfurl at speed, Batmobile-style, to smooth drag, boost braking force, or pin theLaFerrari to the ground. 

Even by Ferrari’s forbidden-fruit standards, cleverly designed to strangle supply and enhance its appeal to the customer, the LaFerrari is something special. On a refreshing note, merely dropping big money or a bigger name isn’t enough to snag one. To ensure that the LaFerrari’s power and glory aren’t wasted on dilettantes, speculators, and other such unworthy characters, a buyer must have a collection of at least five Ferraris, two of which were purchased new, to even be considered LaFerrari material.

While we’re just saying hello to the production LaFerrari, it’s already saying arrivederci: All 499 cars have been presold, with perhaps 120 lucky Americans on the list. Most of those vehicles will be tucked into supercar-stuffed garages, from which they will rocket for sightings in such natural habitats as Monaco and South Beach. 

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With even once-affordable Ferraris—including the Dino of 1967–75—fetching extraordinary sums, the LaFerrari seems predestined to carry the Ferrari mystique into the future. In 25 years they’ll emerge, like bright-red cicadas, at auctions in Vegas or Pebble Beach, to set records and blow minds all over again.

SPECS ED

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1. Power Moves

An F1-derived HY-KERS hybrid engine marries a 6.3 V-12 with a 120-kW electric motor; it not only produces 949 hp but also recaptures energy lost during braking to maintain efficiency—and power. 

2. Active Aero

It has more moving parts than a Cirque du Soleil show: A huge rear wing deploys under hard braking to create stability; three flaps under the front keep the car firmly planted during high-speed driving.

3. At Your Command

An array of controls on the LaFerrari’s F1-inspired, flat-bottomed wheel let drivers start the engine, select one of five driving modes, and even flash the turn signals. 

4. A Dash of Character 

Drivers can select a traditional tachometer display or a more track-oriented one from a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

5. Stay Seated

Unlike most other cars’, the LaFerrari’s seats are fixed in place; the pedal box and steering wheel shift forward and back to accommodate your position.

6. Easy Entry

The LaFerrari’s dramatically positioned wing doors swivel upward on a single hinge for a statement-making display. 

7. Duct and Cover 

Massive ducts on the side of the LaFerrari ingest air, channeling it to cool the engine or increase downforce—whichever the system demands.