The supercar scene has been eerily quiet and then out of the blue, like buses, three have turned up at once. Unlike buses, however, the McLaren P1, Lamborghini Veneno and the Ferrari LaFerrari are incredibly beautiful, monstrously fast machines, capable of propelling two people at speeds that are usually the reserve of aircraft. If money were no object, you’d buy all three, right? But what if you’re a bit skint and had to choose just one? Let’s break it down.
The McLaren P1 is the least bonkers of the trio, but that’s like saying Jack the Ripper is less mental than Hitler and Saddam Hussein. That huge adjustable rear spoiler, the gaping side air-intakes and that sleek, menacing front end are enormously eyecatching, though it’s clearly a design focussed more on substance than overt style. It’s reserved but in a supercar way, which means you will still get attention in swathes.
With all the teaser images and hype, we were hoping for a little more aesthetic oomph from the Ferrari LaFerarri but the company’s done a great job nonetheless. It’s certainly shoutier than the McLaren P1. From the upward-opening, concave doors, to the F1-style front-end, the red Italian reeks of style and is every bit the automotive pin-up.
The Lamborghini Veneno is the craziest looking Lambo ever, and that’s saying something. It has a bizarre mixture of sweeping lines and jagged edges and every panel looks like it was designed to either cut you or take you to the moon. And just look at that rear end – it looks as if it it’s made of bits borrowed from a fighter jet. It’s hideous and wonderful in equal measure.
It’s a close call as there are different strokes for different folks. We’ll call it a draw.
Design winner: Three-way tie
Performance & handling
The Lamborghini Veneno happens to be the least powerful of all three, but it’s far from slow. The 6.5-litre V12 from the Aventador LP700-4 is an already powerful engine and in the Veneno it has been tuned and enhanced to create a total of 740bhp. This means at least 801Nm (590lb/ft) of torque, a 0 to 62mph time of less than three seconds and a top speed of 222mph.
The McLaren P1 uses a 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine and an electric engine that increases performance and efficiency. They combine to create 903bhp and 900Nm (664lb/ft) of torque. Like the Lambo, all that power means a 0 to 62mph sprint of less than three seconds but the top speed of 217mph is lower, although that figure is electronically limited so a few more mph is surely possible.
Neither car can match the Ferrari LaFerrari on paper when it comes to sheer grunt. A spot of Hy-Kers hybrid F1 technology and two electric motors gives the Italian supercar a staggering 963bhp and 900Nm (664lb/ft) of torque, which means another 0 to 62mph time of less than three seconds and a top speed claimed to be as high as 230mph.
The Lambo’s power deficit puts it in a firm third place. We know from official figures that the LaFerrari accelerates from 0-186mph in 15 seconds (two seconds quicker than the McLaren P1). It’s also lighter than its rivals so the red car should be the winner in a drag race. We’re sure McLaren has a thing or two to say about the P1’s handling prowess, but on paper, the LaFerrari comes out on top.
Performance winner: Ferrari LaFerrari
Economy & environment
The addition of an electric motor makes the McLaren P1 surprisingly frugal. In fact, it’s cheaper to tax than a BMW 5-Series [//recombu.com/cars/articles/features/mclaren-p1-15-things-you-need-to-know], thanks to CO2 emissions of just 200g/km and 24.2mpg. It can even run on just the electric motor lowering the emissions to nada. Nothing else in this class comes remotely close and that’s a remarkable achievement given the absurd performance.
The LaFerrari is less impressive in this regard. It’s more economical than the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, but it’s still not what you could ever call eco-friendly. CO2 emissions of 330g/km plonk it in the top tax bracket ─ not that an extra £1,000 or so would be of much concern if you can afford the car in the first place. Fuel figures have yet to be released but we’re not expecting miracles, even with its hybrid powertrain.
The Veneno is similarly unimpressive. Although we don’t know the MPG figures just yet, the CO2 emissions from the Aventador J are 370g/km and fuel economy comes in at 16.4mpg ─ the Veneno is surely going to be worse. Definitely a win for the McLaren by a significant margin.
Economy & Environment winner: McLaren P1.
Only three Lamborghini Venenos will be built and all of them have already sold. But if you were in a position to buy one, the cost would be (you should probably sit down) £3.1 million. No, we’re not joking.
Ferrari has yet to reveal a price but, given that it will be produced in greater numbers than the Lambo and the cost of the F12 and the Enzo, it will cheaper – somewhere around the £1 million mark.
The McLaren seems like a bit of a bargain, then. Even though it’s really not much slower, far more frugal and probably just as capable on a track, it costs a ‘mere’ £866,000. That’s still depressingly expensive for most of us, but technically it’s the best value for money, especially if you hate handing cash over to petrol stations.
Pricing winner: McLaren P1
Even before reading this, you probably fell in love with one of the cars upon first sight. But if we had to pick one, we’d go with the LaFerrari. No, the Veneno. Actually, the McLaren. Oh, we don’t know.
Our inner-child pangs for the Veneno, especially when only three will ever be built, and as proud Brits we love the fact the McLaren P1 is a technical tour de force, fast and efficient. And yet the Ferrari, with its obscene power and speed and in that legendary shade of red, is so tempting.
Let’s cut to the chase. They’re all brilliant. If you somehow ended up with enough dosh to buy one, nobody in their right mind could say you made the wrong decision.
|Ferrari LaFerrari||McLaren P1||Lamborghini Veneno|
|Engine type||6.5-litre V12||3.8-litre V8||6.5-litre V12|
|Transmission||7-speed dual-clutch auto||7-speed dual-clutch auto||7-speed ISR auto|
|0-62mph||< 3 seconds||< 3 seconds||< 3 seconds|
|0-124mph||< 7 seconds||< 7 seconds||Undisclosed|
|0-186mph||15 seconds||17 seconds||Undisclosed|