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Geneva show: LaFerrari gallops in

Prancing Horse unleashes limited-edition flagship LaFerrari hybrid in Geneva

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Ferrari logo5 Mar 2013

By MIKE COSTELLO

AFTER months of speculation and a weeks-long drip-feed teaser campaign, Ferrari has at last whipped the covers from its new hybrid supercar flagship at the Geneva motor show.

Dubbed the LaFerrari – not F70 as expected – the Modena-based brand’s most extreme road car to date features a raft of technologies drawn from its vast experience in Formula One, including a petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain with KERS-style kinetic energy recovery.

Just like the manic Enzo range-topper from more than a decade ago, the LaFerrari will be built in a strictly limited production run of just 499 cars – 100 more than the Enzo – all of which will find their way into the eager hands of Prancing Horse collectors the world over.

Each will also reportedly cost €1.3 million ($A1.65 million), but as the adage goes, if you have to ask...

More importantly, the range of groundbreaking technologies under the slinky skin – far from quixotic – will gradually filter down into future, more ‘mainstream’ Ferraris.

As with arch-rival McLaren (on both road and track), Ferrari has developed a petrol-electric hybrid system for its flagship – not just for environmental benefits, but for the inherent performance advantages of having two power sources.

Because the electric motor provides maximum torque from minimal revs, Ferrari’s engine development team was able to optimise the V12’s performance at higher revs, resulting in a more constant supply of power and torque throughout the wide rev band.

As a result, the 590kW/700Nm 6.3-litre V12 internal combustion engine has a very high 13.5:1 compression ratio and revs all the way out to 9250rpm. The ICE is paired to a 120kW electric motor, for a combined system output of 708kW and 900Nm.

In comparison, the hybrid drivetrain in McLaren’s even more exclusive P1 – which also made its world debut in Geneva this week – pairs a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 with an electric motor for a total output of 673kW and 900Nm.

The Ferrari system is composed of two electric motors – one powering the driven wheels and the second the ancillaries – and a battery pack attached to the floor of the chassis, consisting of cells assembled in the Scuderia Ferrari department alongside the KERS for the F138 Formula One racer.

The battery pack weighs a meagre 60kg and is recharged by both brake and engine regeneration – the latter feeds excess torque energy straight to the cells. Power is sent to the wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

While the LaFerrari cannot be driven on electric power alone, Ferrari claims the system will eventually be expanded on future models to accommodate pure EV mode for short bursts. As it stands, the car’s emissions are 330 grams per kilometre.

The LaFerrari nameplate may be unexpected, but the car’s place in the performance pantheon is less of a surprise. Ferrari claims it to be its fastest road car to date, with a zero to 100km/h sprint time of less than three seconds and a 0-200km/h time of under seven.

It also completed a lap of the company’s Fiorano test circuit in 1min20sec– five seconds faster than the Enzo and more than three seconds faster than the F12 Berlinetta.

To achieve what Ferrari dubs as ideal weight distribution – 59 per cent to the rear – and a compact wheelbase that still accommodated the extra bulk of the hybrid system, the company moved all masses to between the axles and as close to the floor as possible.

The fixed-seat and moving pedal box – not vice-versa – was developed in consultation with Scuderia Ferrari F1 drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, who played an “active role” throughout the entire development process.

The light and tough chassis features no fewer than four different types of carbon-fibre, all hand-laminated and featuring integrated seats and battery compartment. This improves torsional rigidity by 27 per cent and beam stiffness by 22 per cent while offsetting the extra weight of the hybrid system.

The styling team led by Flavio Manzoni was tasked with combining form and function, with the need to pair aerodynamic lessons learned from Formula One with the requisite sex appeal of a Ferrari standard-bearer.

The sharp, downward-sloping nose harks to the extravagant forms of late-1960s Ferrari sports prototypes, while the company claims the sculptural treatment has been heavily influenced by the aero-dynamism of Formula One open-wheelers.

According the Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, the company chose the unusual moniker – which translates to the Ferrari - “because it is the maximum expression of what defines our company – excellence”.

“Excellence in terms of technological innovation, performance, visionary styling and the sheer thrill of driving,” he said.

“Aimed at our collectors, this is a truly extraordinary car which encompasses advanced solutions that, in the future, will find their way onto the rest of the range, and it represents the benchmark for the entire automotive industry.

“LaFerrari is the finest expression of our company’s unique, unparalleled engineering and design know-how, including that acquired in Formula One.”

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