Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1, Porsche 918
Every decade or so, a supercar manufacturer pushes the boundaries to a whole new level. Alfa Romeo introduced the Tipo 33 in the ‘60s — born out of its racing program and the first car with gull-winged doors. The 1970s saw the beautiful Lamborghini Countach — a car that began defining the hypercar era and, with a look so far ahead of its time, it wouldn’t look out of date in a showroom today. The ‘80s saw the introduction of the Ferrari F40 — the first car to cross the 200 mph barrier and a car many still consider to be the greatest of all time.
With the advent of carbon fibre and sophisticated F1 technology came even greater leaps in the ‘90s and the new millennium. McLaren introduced the F1, with an innovative three-seat configuration to become the fastest car the world had ever seen. Bugatti took over that crown when they introduced the physics-defying Veyron to reinvent themselves as a brand. However, although the Veyron was astonishing in a straight line — it did 253 mph thanks to its W16 engine, 4 turbo-chargers, and 1,000 horsepowers — it had to make big compromises in the looks and handling departments.
The Veyron was an inflection point and with stricter environmental laws, the race for the speed-crown was finally declared over. Car manufacturers were pushed to focus on newer technologies to keep the cars low on weight and high on power. As it turned out, for the first time in automotive history, three premium car manufacturers introduced cars with hybrid technology. Enter the Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1, and Porsche 918, better known as the Holy Trinity in the enthusiast community.
What is fascinating about this event is that all three manufacturers independently decided to bet their brand and billions of dollars, around the same time, to invent a joint strike force of petrol engine and electric motor. This was a big gamble as car purists have always shunned anything that doesn’t smell like petrol. All three cars are limited edition, around a million dollars with identical performance figures. And to the surprise of some, the gamble has paid off — they are all sold out!
What is hilarious about all this is that although hybrid technology was introduced to reduce the impact of the combustion engine, ironically, all of them increase the impact. When the combustion engine can’t do its best — for example, when starting off or during gear changes — the electric motor kicks in to give instant torque but the overall CO2 emissions are lower than a Toyota Prius! This is the key to their success; Ferrari, McLaren, and Porsche have managed not only to save the handling characteristics of hypercars, but have actually made them better.
For decades, cars have basically been the same — four wheels powered by a combustion engine — until now. The LaFerrari, P1, and 918 are really important cars because they introduce a genuinely new chapter in the evolution of motoring. Their manufacturers have been guaranteed a place in the future and car enthusiasts worldwide can be sure that the hypercar has been saved for tomorrow.
I cannot wait to see what they come up with next.
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