Hybrids were once considered the painfully slow and socially responsible tortoises of the highway. Now, even revered sports-car brands are prepping irresponsibly powerful, lethally fast, porpoise-sleek hybrids. As with Porsche's 918 Spyder and McLaren's P1, Ferrari's Enzo successor runs on a complex blend of electricity and internal combustion. More curious, Ferrari named its latest and greatest the LaFerrari.
The Fazz's carbon-fiber body shapes F1–influenced aerodynamic efficiency into muscular Italian automotive art. The underbody is made of a debris-resistant Kevlar-and-carbon-fiber composite. Befitting a Ferrari, the two-seater aims to be the most visually exciting of this new generation of hybrid supercars.
The car's technical equipment makes good on the design's promises. Ferrari started the work in 2007 under a research program code-named the "Millechili" project—Italian for one thousand kilograms, or 2200 pounds, the LaFerrari's original weight target. (The production car is expected to come in around 2800 pounds.) However, while fuel efficiency and specific power have improved, safety standards have also grown more stringent. As the production supercar's weight increased, the need for a more potent propulsion unit drove up its displacement. In the end, Ferrari abandoned its plans for a turbocharged V-8 and opted to tune its 6.3-liter V-12 to produce 789 horsepower. An electric motor delivering an extra 161 horses pushes the combined output to a nice, round 950 horsepower. So the new Ferrari will outmuscle both the Porsche 918 Spyder (at roughly 800 horsepower) and the upcoming 903-hp McLaren P1.
The V-12 engine mounts directly behind the seats to concentrate the car's largest mass at the center and to leave room for the seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle and the hybrid hardware. The main electric motor is located at the tail end of the transaxle and attaches to the transmission mainshaft. During deceleration, the motor operates as a generator to charge the batteries, which are placed low in the structure just aft of the cabin. A second electric motor powers accessory equipment such as the air-conditioning compressor.
The powertrain mounts to a sub-structure attached to the carbon-fiber tub. To improve its carbon-fiber production processes, Ferrari created a group of experts led by former Scuderia Ferrari chief designer Rory Byrne. The LaFerrari's structural tub is comprised of four different kinds of carbon fiber, each chosen to optimize weight, stiffness, and strength. Ferrari claims that the final chassis design is 20 percent lighter, 27 percent stiffer in torsional rigidity, and 22 percent stiffer in longitudinal rigidity than the Enzo. One residual from the Millechili project: the 104.3-inch wheelbase, which is the same as the 458 Italia's.