The human mind is a wonderful thing. Alone, it can produce things beyond imagination, that will inspire generations to come and It is when you come across machines such as the LaFerrari that you realize that the word “artificial” really means “man-made”. It is astonishing to think how few men can build a machine that is so real it cannot be considered soulless. Enzo Ferrari once said “my cars are not always the best, but each one of them will carry the psychological component of the human mind”.
The Ferrari LaFerrari is a thing of such extraordinary beauty that goes beyond our mere mortal imagination. Driving one is dangerous, for it is such an intoxicating experience that will wipe away your impartial judgement on any other car. After stepping out of that magnificent carbon-fiber chassis one could only ask himself: “Why every supercar has to be so slow?”. It’s so quick it will change your perception of fast forever. It’s a very real, usable and emotion-driven hypercar that will make you feel true emotions behind the wheel.
I do not want to band-wagon on the choir of other journalists and enthusiasts who say that a limited edition Ferrari is good because it has to be. I approach any test with a blank canvas in my head, always ready to paint it with the feelings I am about to experience by the incoming drive. It’s a neutral state of mind that overcomes part of the emotions but that always helps me drain the best sensations out of the car. Despite all of this I can’t deny the big smile it has put on my face when I approached it the first time. My expectations grow larger as the gleaming red bodywork and crazy aero filled my eyes with bright Rossocorsa reflections.
You clearly don’t approach the LaFerrari with ease: it’s a status symbol for many and the ultimate show-off tool for Ferrari to state their ability in making a phenomenal road car. As I walked towards the open door, It was difficult to conceal the sense of anticipation and excitement that permeated my soul. As soon as I was inside the cockpit I wished I could write a letter to my 5-year-old self-reassuring that one day I could drive red Ferraris I saw in magazines!
As I sit and regulate the pedalboard and raise the F40-inspired 4 point belts over my shoulders I immediately begin to focus on the car: no other detail seems to matter anymore. Even before starting the 6-liter V12 engine, the cockpit tricks you into thinking you’re about to begin a test session at LeMans, back when Ferrari was dominating prototype racing. I know It shouldn’t, as the ultra-modern steering wheel, dashboard and the overdose of carbon fiber don’t look like a flashback from the 60ies.
The fixed seat (actually a portion of the chassis covered with some fine leather) offers a great driving position and the wonderful pedals offer great heel support and are at the right angle for your feet. The Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel is a joy to hold and just about the right size: not too thick and neither too thin. The whole car feels definitely smaller from the inside and there’s a perfect sound insulation: you can hear the music of the engine, yet not the annoying white noise rumble.
Press the START button and the V12 makes no apologies in being loud and proud: the growl that erupts behind your shoulder is magnificent. Engage first gear, leave the brake and the car rolls away beautifully. From the first meters it feels like someone got a cable plugged into the back of your head: instant, quick and intuitive response that will make the driver feel part of the systems. It is incredible that a car with such technology is able to make you feel the real brain of the car. Everything seems to be transmitted directly to your nervous system as the car responds quickly to every input. The seating position integrated into the chassis allows to feel the car torsional rigidity like never before: you will be surprised how much old-school the LaFerrari feels while going down the road. The clear sensation is to be driving a P3/4 with carbon fiber and almost a 1000 hp!
And then…there’s the power and the grip. There are no words to describe the wonderful sensation of focus it provides when full boost from the electrical motors kicks in and the 9000 redline: It sounds like a Formula 1 unleashed in Monza!
Push the throttle hard on the straights, balance the speed on fast sections, and squeeze the brakes well into the corner to let the car settle down and achieve maximum grip: that’s how you drive the LaFerrari. In many ways, it is a car which achieves a full completion of what we car nuts want: exciting to look at, perfect for driving and remarkably unique in its technology.
Deriving strictly from F1 technology and being the fastest Ferrari in production to date, the LaFerrari is powered by 3 main components: the naturally aspirated, “F140FE” code six-liter V12 engine, the HPU (Hybrid Power Unit) which drives and manages the Hy-KERS system and an Electric motor which powers the car from excess torque and keeps the whole system in charge. The Lite batteries are located underneath and on the side of the carbon thin in order to achieve better weight distribution.
The whole system is complicated to understand but remarkably simple to use. With regenerative braking and the KERS system, the car benefits from an instant and violent delivery of torque and 120 horsepower from the electric motor, which is connected to the transaxle transmission. Combined with better traction thanks to 20 mm wider rear tires than the Enzo, the LaFerrari is blistering quick in the straight line.
Stopping power is provided by the same carbo-ceramic brakes used by the 458 Speciale yet fitted with newer pads and with an improved cooling system.
Although being a hybrid, the LaFerrari is a vehicle conceived to exploit the benefits of electric motor’s immediate response and massive low-end torque. Despite the emissions being 50% less than the previous Enzo, the Prancing Horse’s limited edition supercar is a better performing machine and an incredible car overall.
“Life is not measured in years alone, but in achievements”, this famous Bruce McLaren epitaph kept ringing in my head for the entire weekend we spent with this Ferrari. Over the years it has become my motto and the driving force behind my day-to-day challenges: I can’t deny the fact that this is a great achievement indeed.
What’s more is the place where I drove the LaFerrari: Sardinia. A place blessed with timeless beauty, great weather and possibly the best roads I have ever driven on, was the right place to get the proper test of the LaFerrari. This is an escape done right: we’re in the middle of the Fall and no one thinks about sunny weather anymore, so we cleverly booked a flight off to Sardinia and left foggy Milan behind to land in…well, Paradise!
The stretchy roads outside Porto Rotondo are the best roads in the world. As for now, they accommodate cars with lots of horsepower with sharp handling and the LaFerrari was the perfect tool for the ultimate performance driving enjoyment. Fast corners with excellent visibility allow feeling the power and the exceptional grip of the car in great safety.
People love cars like LaFerrari. Despite we passed through deserted villages and encountered very few cars on the road, it was impossible to leave the car parked without meeting a small group of people cheering on and stopping you for questions. “How fast is it?” “Is it a hybrid for real??” “Can I take a picture?”: it’s just a great conversation starter and a magnet for enthusiasts.
Two days spent properly enjoying the sunny weather and the marvels of Italian engineering are simply the best way to celebrate a year of travels and adventures. 499 LaFerrari were ever made and the vast majority of those will have lower mileage,yet not with Escape on Wheels behind the wheel! I apologize for dramatically lowering the value of the car but hey…cars are meant to be driven!
Birthdays can only come once a year for a reason: to be celebrated properly.
Happy First Anniversary, Escape on Wheels!