However fast and furious and noisy and exciting to drive you might imagine LaFerrari to be, double it, add 20 and you might, just maybe, get somewhere close.
I find myself vibrating with excitement as I prod the starter button, squeeze the huge right hand gear paddle to select gear ratio number one and rumble out on to the track for my first few tentative laps, with the manettino switch set to Race mode. Other than this now familiar dial on the steering wheel, there are no other buttons to play with, nada; Ferrari deciding instead to let the car do the talking, which is a refreshingly pure ethos to adopt.
The ride instantly feels spookily smooth and calm, the steering surprisingly light but bursting with a delicious, old school kind of feel. The brake pedal also feels light underfoot but is again rippling with feel. And the throttle response, the first time I go anywhere near the loud pedal is just outrageous; the car explodes down the back straight even on half throttle in fourth gear.
And that’s what you get when you integrate electric power with a thumping great V12. At low revs the electricity provides the torque, and provides it instantly, and from there on up – at about 3000rpm – the V12 takes over. Yet the transformation is so smooth you are never actually aware that it takes place. Instead, it feels like the car is powered by a 10-litre V12 that somehow has massive low rev response at the same time.
LaFerrari vs McLaren P1 vs Porsche 918 Spyder
And to begin with, at least, it’s the immediacy of its response to the throttle that pretty much defines what LaFerrari feels like on the move. The torque appears to arrive from the moment you think about opening the accelerator, not when you physically press the pedal, and to begin with that takes quite some getting used to.
But once you do, and to be fair this happens far faster than you’d think, given the vast range of capabilities contained within this most complex of cars, there is a proper box of secrets to be unlocked.
The sheer thrust the thing can generate will scare most people half to death to begin with, for example, because it really is monumentally rapid. And it just never lets up. The acceleration, and the noise, and the violence, it all just keeps on coming at you, stronger and louder with every extra revolution of the crankshaft until the limiter intrudes at an ear-splitting 9250rpm. The first time I run it right up to the limiter in third, the hairs on the back of my neck sit bolt upright, and it’s all I can do not to start screaming uncontrollably for no apparent reason.
And yet, in their way, the gearchange, the brakes, the steering, the turn in, the handling balance and the ride… they are all every bit as incredible as the engine – sorry the power source – and the acceleration it can produce. You look at what this car has on paper and assume that it is going to be a deeply complicated machine to drive, one that perhaps us mere mortals will never get to truly understand, or get the best out of. But that’s not the case at all in reality.
In many ways LaFerrari feels as natural and easy to drive as a 458 Italia. Its responses may be massive, its grip vast and its performance envelope borderline insane, but it also feels surprisingly, well, normal in the way it drives. The electronics are there but they operate very much in the background. A bit like the brilliant speech writer for the brilliant speech maker, they are a key element of LaFerrari’s DNA but they don’t define how it feels, or how it drives.