Italian manufacturer Ferrari has a long and glorious history of building cars at the leading edge of performance. For 2015, Ferrari has reached new heights with the ultra-exotic LaFerrari.
The LaFerrari is Ferrari's first road-going gasoline-electric hybrid. And what a first it is. The rear-drive, carbon fiber-clad car is powered by a HY-KERS hybrid system similar to that found in Ferrari's Formula 1 race cars. A mid-mounted 6.3L gasoline V12 revs to 9,350 rpm and produces a staggering 789 horsepower along the way. It is the same unit found in front of the F12 Berlinetta. Meanwhile, a 120-kilowatt electric motor adds 160 horses to the mix. Total output is 949 horsepower, with torque rated at 663 pound-feet, and power is put to the rear wheels through an incredibly quick seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, complete with rev matching on downshifts. A 132-pound battery pack sits low in the chassis and, as in the F1 machines, gets recharged during braking. That braking comes courtesy of Brembo carbon ceramic brakes, 15.7 inches front and 15 inches rear.
The LaFerrari owes its form to extensive wind tunnel testing, with an adjustable rear spoiler, and it borrows styling cues from contemporary and previous Ferrari models alike, such as the Enzo. It is lower and narrower than the Enzo -- and 27 percent stiffer -- and it has a lower center of gravity by 1.4 inches. It rides on enormous, sticky Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires -- 19 inches up front and 20 inches in the rear. Its impressive driving dynamics owe themselves partly to extensive testing by Ferrari team race drivers.
Doors to the cockpit open upward, and inside you'll find a fixed driver's seat positioned much as you'd find in a single-seat race car. Only the pedals and steering wheel are adjustable. A flat-bottom, F1-inspired steering wheel houses a host of controls, from turn signals and paddle shifters to a switch that dials in five different driving modes.
Electronic controls include stability control, F1 electronic traction control, an electronic differential, and active aerodynamics.
How could Ferrari possibly make the LaFerrari any better? For some people, the answer is to rip the top off of it, which is exactly what the Italian supercar maker has done. Dubbed Aperta, the new limited-edition, open-top LaFerrari made its public debut at the 2016 Paris Auto Show.
Ferrari at the show bestowed upon us the official specifications, including a chassis rigidity that matches the original coupe as well as the same aerodynamic efficiency as the hardtop. In fact, Ferrari promised "open top aerodynamic comfort," in theory meaning cruising along without this thing's top on won't result in any permanent hearing loss.
The Aperta maintains the previous car's 950 horsepower powertrain, which includes a 6.3-liter V-12 delivering roughly 800 hp, the bulk of the oomph coming from an electric motor and battery pack. All that power is routed through the rear wheels and a seven-speed, dual-clutch sequential manual transmission.
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