Geneva showed off the best and brightest in automotive technology and design this year. However, the real story was the fact the two of the earth’s juggernauts faced off – Ferrari and McLaren. Debuting their new Hypercar wares literally seconds apart, they sent the press scattering to obtain pictures and info on both. Everything is vague until these cars are available for a full-blown review, so we will go with what we have in a preliminary 6-round match. A virtual Mash-Up: McLaren P1 versus Ferrari LaFerrari. Go!
Round #1: Styling
LaFerrari attracted bigger crowds at Geneva, including McLaren boss, Ron Dennis. The styling is evolutionary – it does to the shape of the 458 what the 288GTO did for the 308—give it a solid, broad-shouldered look. The P1, on the other hand is sort of a filled-out MP4-12C. It is what that car should have been all along. Aerodynamic scoops and ducts abound on both cars, but Italy executes them like a well-tailored suit.
Round #2: Power
The P1 features a heavily revised version of the MP4-12C’s 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, tuned to 727 bhp. The engine is combined with an electric motor that produces 176 bhp. The hybrid powertrain is connected to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, and will give a total power output of 903 bhp and 664 lb-ft of torque. The powertrain can run using either the V8 by itself or with the electric motor. The top speed is electronically limited to 217 mph, the P1 will go from 0 to 62mph in less than 3 seconds.
Now to LaFerrari, it carries a large by comparison 6.3-liter V12. 0-60mph is specified as 2.9 seconds; torque and top speed are identical to the McLaren. The numbers for total power output are: 789 bhp from the V-12 AND 160 hp from the electric motor for a combined 949 bhp. The Ferrari is good for a combined 663 lb-ft of torque. We’re sure that actual numbers may vary, but we will give the edge to Ferrari because it’s claiming a 46 horsepower advantage.
Round #3: Emissions
No fuel economy figures have been offered by either manufacturer, but one area the P1 appears to have LaFerrari licked is emissions. The P1 promises 8.6l/100km compared to LaFerrari’s 14.2l/100km, no doubt, because LaFerrari cannot drive on electric power alone.
ADVANTAGE: McLaren P1
Round #4: Technology
The P1 comes with two Formula 1 derived features: The Instant Power Assist System (IPAS) will give an instant boost in horsepower to the V-8 engine. The car also comes with a Drag Reduction System (DRS), which operates the car’s rear wing. The electric motor has a range up to 12 miles at an average speed of 30 mph
Ferrari describes its HY-KERS System as “an even more evolved and complex solution than Ferrari’s F1 KERS System. Essentially, an electric motor (120hp) is attached directly to the powertrain and is fed by the energy recovered from braking.
Since technology, in this case, would also include aerodynamics, we have to mention that both cars have been shaped by countless hours of computer modeling and wind tunnel testing. The Ferrari has bullet-proof Kevlar tubs underneath the cockpit and the McLaren is using lightweight carbon fiber materials everywhere for everything. Both cars use complicated gasoline-electric hybrid systems. Oh, my head is spinning. Hey, Ferrari and McLaren have been battling in Formula 1 for decades. The decision on this will come down to real world testing.
Round #5: Cost
For the price of either of them, you can buy about 50 Toyota Prii, but what does the Sheik or the Internet Mogul want for their money? Exclusivity. There will be 174 more LaFerraris trolling around out there than McLaren P1s — whose total production will be capped at 375 units worldwide. The P1’s $1.15 million dollars is a steal. LaFerrari is expected to ring up between $1.5 and $1.6 million bucks. Although the Prancing Horse badge comes with its own level of panache, the McLaren is the better buy because you won’t see one on the road as often.
ADVANTAGE: McLaren P1
Round #6: Legacy
By the time you read this, technology will have progressed exponentially. Will the dated battery packs and electric engines on a LaFerrari, P1 or 918 feel as desirable in 10 years? If you leave these cars to your children as an inheritance, should you also leave a first-generation iPod and iPhone so they can contact the past? It stands to reason that the hybrid technology craze might leave cars like these as either priceless because they are first editions or useless because they are last year’s fashion. The limited numbers help, but if history has any bearing, a badge is still a badge
LaFerrari is ahead by a nose but this battle is very close. Be warned: this is certainly not a title bout. Porsche is coming out swinging in September with the 918. In the meantime, since the Ferrari count is already spoken for and the McLaren is not available for consumption, it’s still too close to call for these two Goliaths. Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, anyone?
Please enjoy this TFLcar insider video of the Ferrari FF debut