Clash of the Titans
The 2013 Geneva motor show saw a barrage of high performance, high priced and highly anticipated hypercars. But nobody organises a hypercar party and withdraws Lamborghini’s invite.
To say the McLaren P1 and the successor to the Ferrari Enzo were anticipated wouldn’t necessarily be accurate. Since the back end of 2012 both McLaren and Ferrari continuously teased and tortured petrolheads around the world with hazy and unclear images and plenty of PR drivel about what these two monsters of the motoring world would look like and go like. Every morning was like Christmas morning for petrolheads, only to find Santa had ate your biscuits, drank your whiskey and buggered off without leaving any presents. Frustrating it most certainly was.
But at the 2013 Geneva motor show the wraps of these two titans were finally pulled back and had jaws hitting floors. With the McLaren P1 we knew, in a sense, what to expect. Adorned with a fairly shoddy disguise while it was undergoing testing back in 2012, we knew that the shape and dramatic styling wasn’t going to change much from the concept car that was shown at the 2012 Paris motor show. Ferrari, on the other hand had played their cards very close to their chest and given nothing away about the car that would succeed the mighty Enzo apart from a few publicity inducing blurry teasing shots. But how do you top a car that you did not only have to have an invitation in order to buy but a car that was named after the great Enzo Ferrari himself? Well, you call it ‘The Ferrari’, more precisely LaFerrari – a nod in the direction that perhaps this car will be the embodiment of all things Ferrari. Good luck to its eventual successor then.
But while many were still struggling to digest the offerings from both McLaren and Ferrari, Lamborghini felt they had to make their presence known, serving up the automotive equivalent of roundhouse to the face. There had been no warning, no PR drip fed information or any indication that Lamborghini were about to gate-crash the most eagerly anticipated party of 2013. So while these cars are yet to meet in the real world, we can merely ponder about the results but to satisfy every petrolhead’s need to know which may come out on top, prepare yourself for the biggest game of Top Trumps ever.
Lamborghini don’t do things by half measures. The Veneno may make the McLaren P1
look a bit pedestrian in its styling but some may find its features a little too extrovert. Based on the Aventador LP700-4, only three units will be produced but you can’t have one because unsurprisingly they’ve all been sold. Sitting on 20in wheels at the front and a mammoth 21in at the back, the Veneno has resonance to that of the flame-spitting behemoth the Batmobile. Clad completely in carbon fibre, the Veneno comes as close as can be to a no holds barred Le Mans racer. There are still some noticeable Lamborghini design cues however with dramatic scissor doors, Y-shaped headlights and taillights. The arrow shaped front-end and shark-like fin running along the spine of the roof give it that evil looking character, the villain of the trio.
To then compare the McLaren P1 to the Veneno can make it look a little reserved. Yet, while the styling of the Veneno is very theatrical it is also largely cosmetic, something McLaren doesn’t do. Everything you see on the P1 has been crafted and designed with performance in mind, it’s a car designed by aerodynamics. Inspired by the MP4-12C, the P1 puts a more assertive and authoritative stamp on McLarens rather timid previous designs. Great chunks of bodywork appear to missing and a rear diffuser fashioned from a maze of complex carbon fibre are all there to help this car in its search to be ‘the best drivers car on road and track.’ The P1 can generate an astonishing 600kg of downforce at speeds well below its maximum.
While Ferrari may not be able to match McLaren with its aerodynamic ability, Ferrari has never been one to design a car with science firmly at the forefront of its design. The LaFerrari’s body has been sculpted and is heavily influenced by its F1 department, resembling that of the track only Enzo FXX. Smoother and sleeker lines than both that of the P1 and Veneno make the LaFerrari a far more desirable machine but the bullish stance of the Veneno may appeal to some, but probably few.
This is where the battle is won and lost of course. In their quest for truly stratospheric levels of performance, both the McLaren and Ferrari have called upon the aid of electric motors that boost overall BHP and torque. The Lamborghini features a more conventional 6.5-litre V12 – when else would this engine be considered conventional except in this company – producing 750BHP and catapulting the Veneno to 62mph in an eye-watering 2.8 seconds. Mated to a 7-speed ISR transmission and permanent all-wheel drive, the Veneno is capable of reaching a top end of 222mph.
That all sounds rather impressive until you hear what the P1 has to offer. The McLaren uses a heavily modified version of the twin-turbo V8 you’ll find in the MP4-12C and thanks to bigger turbos and other mechanical magic the V8 develops 727BHP and 531lb ft. Coupled with an F1 style KERS system, power is then boosted to a monstrous 903BHP and 664lb ft. The claimed 0-62mph time is said to be less than 3.0 seconds, while zero to 186mph can be achieved in no more than 17 seconds, 11 seconds faster than the legendary McLaren F1 road car. Sadly, the top speed has been electronically limited; owners will have to make do with just 218mph.
But yet again it’s LaFerrari which comes out on top. It’s larger but naturally aspirated 6.3-litre V12 develops 790BHP at a glass shattering 9000RPM and 516lb ft. Like the McLaren P1, it too uses an F1 style KERS system upping overall power to Bugatti levels of performance, 950BHP and 715lb ft are the final figures. The performance levels of both the P1 and LaFerrari match each other punch for punch, with the Ferrari getting to 62mph in less than 3 seconds and hitting 124mph under 7. But it’s at earth-turning speeds where the Ferrari places itself in a league of its own. To reach 187mph the LaFerrari will shave 2 seconds off the P1’s time by getting there in a claimed 15.5 seconds and 2 seconds at those speeds is one mightily impressive feat, something which the Woking based manufacture will be scratching their heads at.
If you think the styling of the Lamborghini Veneno may be a bit outlandish, then the price is simply astronomical. There isn’t an easy was to say this, so I’ll just say it. It costs £3,100,000. That is largely, however, irrelevant because as previously mentioned all three of them have been sold. By contrast, Ferrari and McLaren will make 499 and 375 units of their cars respectively. The P1 coming in at £866,000 and the LaFerrari costing £1.05 million. Who says you can’t put a price on exclusivity?