I’m often asked a question that should be, for all intents and purposes, an easy question to answer. “Josh, what’s it like to drive a LaFerrari Aperta?”
To answer this question, it’s easier to tell you what it’s not like. It isn’t like anything you’ve ever driven before.
Presence. The first thing that comes to mind when gazing at this car is presence. From the moment I peel back the red soft cover revealing its pearl white paint, the hair on my skin begins to stand up... Each morning I wake up, descend the lift to my garage, click the keyfob – and I start to smile. There is simply no avoiding it: no matter how bad a day is forecasted, it begins with a smile. Because that is how all modern Ferraris make me feel.
In this day and age, people have short attention spans, and there is simply too much information to digest. For this reason I find that many cars are put into boxes defined solely by specifications. This is quite understandable when you consider very few people will be fortunate to even gaze upon one of these machines, let alone drive one – so I thought you should hear it from the (prancing) horse’s mouth.
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‘Package’ is something few people discuss when it comes to cars of this level. You can waste all the time you like on specifications or getting into pissing matches with your friends over which car is faster, but the elephant in the room is this: specifications are for rational discussion. Supercars were never imagined for rational reasons, they were not created for rational reasons, and they are not purchased or driven by people for rational reasons, either. Supercars exist solely for emotional reasons.
Once you’re past the specifications, you realise what’s important is how a car makes you feel. For some it’s about how the car looks: is it artistic? Is it beautiful? For others, what matters is the status it brings. For me, it’s mostly about how the car drives and how it makes me feel.
So let’s talk about the car. The engine sounds exactly like a V12 F1 car. If you ever went to a Formula One race during the golden years, stop and think about that for a moment.
It’s a short-stroke 6.3L V12 producing around 800hp, and it revs like a super bike all the way up to 9,000rpm. You want to keep the revs up just to hear the engine scream, and play it like an instrument – completely unnecessary given the ludicrous amount of torque the electric motor provides. The synergy between its two engines is perfect: so sublime that the only reason you remember it’s there is owing to the epic sound the car makes during downshifts as the KERS system charges the batteries.
It’s fast as hell in a straight line – faster than anything you can imagine
When you turn this car into a corner, it is as flat as any race car I’ve ever driven. Body roll is almost non-existent. The grip seems endless – and the faster you go, the more grip you have because of the car’s active aerodynamics.
With the roof off, I can’t even describe the noise without doing it a disservice. It’s like a symphony of the best music you’ve ever heard, only you’re the conductor and your foot plays the instrument. No car in the world sounds better than this.
Then there’s accessibility – and no, I don’t mean the financial kind. You would think with all this tech and incredible sensitivity that the car would be difficult or scary to drive. The crazy part is that it isn’t: it just taunts you into pushing it harder and harder, rewarding you with lateral G, thrust, and pure exhilaration.
The LaFerrari Aperta is really a handful of different cars wrapped up into one. The manettino [an adjustment dial on the right side of the steering wheel] has several settings: Wet; Sport; Race; CT Off; ESC Off.
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I recently drove in the Trofeo Tollegno in Italy and was rewarded with rain almost every day. Initially, I had a word with myself about driving a car with all that horsepower and a value of more than £4m – in the rain.
Amazingly, while in wet mode I could turn the wheel, push the gas, and I could simply not lose the rear end no matter what I did. Sure, I can drive the car much quicker with this mode disabled, but I’ve also been racing cars for a while, something which helps you to speak a car’s language and understand what it’s telling you.
Switch the car into Sport mode and suddenly you’re at the wheel of a machine that is perfect for the novice driver in dry conditions. It’s fast as hell in a straight line – faster than anything you can imagine. Apply power too early in the corners? No problem. The system is so advanced and seamless you barely notice it working to correct your over-exuberance.
Up into Race mode – and the first thing you notice is the shifts become more violent, more abrupt, and suddenly there is more feedback from every part of the car. Push the gas a bit too early? Again, no problem. The car will slide a bit and catch you before it gets too out of control. Road too bumpy? Not an issue – push the little shock absorber button on the wheel, the active suspension is decoupled and suddenly you’re treated to a soft, cushy ride unheard of in even the most comfortable of sports cars.
The two next settings – CT Off and ESC Off – require you to really start understanding the car. Frankly, these shouldn’t be used by anyone who isn’t a racing driver or has significant track experience. It isn’t because the casual driver can’t be trusted with these settings, it’s simply because the car can be driven quite close to the limit with almost all the electronics enabled and they are so transparent that they only intervene when there is driver error. Drive clean and you don’t even notice the guardian angel perched on your shoulder.
The supercar industry is changing. I’ve never cared about classic cars or had any connection to them, but I’m beginning to believe that 30 years from now, if I’m fortunate enough to still own this incredible machine, it will be the greatest car of my generation.
See Josh and journalist Marchettino test the car...