The most powerful Ferrari ever made

We test drive the most highly-anticipated road car this year: the 950 horsepower LaFerrari.

Damien Reid September 2, 2014

"Here’s the keys to our AED 6 million car and there’s the empty race track, now go and have some fun."

That was pretty much the extent of the instructions given by Ferrari’s minders when I was invited to get behind the wheel of the company’s newest hypercar, the 6.2-litre, 950bhp, hybrid, V12 LaFerrari at the factory’s test circuit in Fiorano, Italy recently.

Only 499 examples will be built and buyers have to be ‘invited’ to purchase a car only after satisfying certain criteria such as showing proof that they’ve bought two new Ferraris recently, purchased six in the past decade and somehow prove that they are not a speculator.

Before taking delivery, LaFerrari owners have to visit the factory to have a seat fitting. The result is that you not only sit lower but you feel every nuance of the road and what the car is doing, literally through your backside. It’s surprisingly comfortable but gives you a raw connection to the car like nothing else out there. 

Unlike other hybrids and its competitors, the Porsche 918 Spyder and McLaren P1, the electric motor assisting the V12 is always running which means that the immediate acceleration is nothing short of explosive and it literally took my breath away as my chest was compressed by the lateral G-forces.

Having 162bhp coming from the electric motor that’s powered by a 60kg lithium ion battery pack to supplement the 788bhp F12- derived, V12 engine, is like having VW Golf engine tucked away just for those times when you want to take it over the edge. Performance is quoted at less than three seconds to 100kmh with a top speed in excess of 350kmh and the system runs through a seven-speed dual clutch Getrag transmission.

Leaving the track behind and venturing on to the open road, I didn’t know whether to feel deeply disappointed or massively impressed with LaFerrari’s suburban behaviour. The roads in the villages around Ferrari’s semi-rural hometown are riddled with pot holes, gravelly shoulders, speed humps and are about as narrow as a farmer’s driveway. 

Idling through these streets dodging delivery vans, tractors and smoke-belching Fiats, the LaFerrari looked like a spaceship from the outside and while I was expecting it to be the grumpy primadonna on anything but perfect surfaces, it was as composed and as comfortable as a contemporary GT tourer from inside. You have to remember that this is a road car yet it is more powerful than a current Formula One car and even without the electric motor, it has more grunt than the last V12 F1 engine from 1995 while it also has the same aerodynamic efficiency as a 2004 F1 car.

It’s a truly remarkable car that elevates the benchmark for supercars with future- proof road car technology. It boasts the most extreme performance ever achieved by a Ferrari production car and features the most innovative technical solutions which will filter through to the rest of the Ferrari range, it’s just a shame that due to its rarity and instant collectible status, that you’ll probably never get to see one on the road anytime soon.