LaFerrari: Special by name, special by nature

Date:14 May 2013 Tags:

On the rare occasions that Ferrari depart from their practice of identifying a car solely by an alphanumeric title (a title usually in some way relevant to its engine layout and capacity), you know that it’s something special. Certainly, to the English-speaking ear at any rate, LaFerrari doesn’t have quite the meaningful ring of Dino or Enzo – not to mention Gran Turismo Omologato – but it nevertheless denotes something quite out of the ordinary, even by the standards of this storied marque.

Just 499 examples of the LaFerrari will be built. Its name is meant to signify that this car represents the ultimate expression of Maranello engineering, drawn from the company’s heritage on road and racetrack.

That thinking is no more evident than in the use of the hybrid HY-KERS system, derived from the kinetic energy recovery system used in Formula One racing. Even in these environmentally correct times, though, Ferrari couldn’t bring themselves to build electric-only operation into this flagship creation. So, though the LaFerrari has the EV potential – a development model has been driven electric-only – it will use electric drive only for assistance, not as its sole motive source.

Input from the company’s F1 programme even extends to the cabin layout. The driving position, which draws on single-seater characteristics, was designed with the help of Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. The bespoke driving seat is fixed, whereas the pedal box and steering wheel are adjustable.

Carbon fibre – four different types – from the company’s racing department features prominently. As always with Ferrari, the engine is the fulcrum around which it all revolves. The 6 262 cm3 V12 develops 600 kW and revs to a class-record 9 250 r/min. Total system output, including the 120 kW electric motor, is 718 kW.

That results in what is the company’s fastest road car ever. The LaFerrari reaches 0-100 km/h in less than 3 seconds and 0-200 km/h in under 7 seconds. It clocked a 1:20 lap at Ferrari’s Fiorano test track, 5 seconds faster than the Enzo and more than 3 seconds faster than the F12 Berlinetta.

Supercar hybrid. There are two electric motor, one driving the wheels and the other the ancillaries. They’re powered by a special lightweight battery pack that is charged by regenerative braking and, unusually, by excess torque from the V12 (such as developed during cornering). The electric motor is directly coupled with the F1 dual-clutch gearbox for greater efficiency. Ferrari’s in-house control systems manage HY-KERS as part of a range of smart technologies governing aerodynamics, performance and handling. For instance, on exiting a corner, HY-KERS is signalled to keep the V12’s revs high to guarantee better acceleration. Similarly, active aerodynamic devices – diffusers and guide vane on the front underbody and diffusers and rear spoiler at the rear – are deployed automatically when extra downforce is needed.

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