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LaFerrari vs McLaren P1 vs Porsche 918

  1. This feels like a big one. Given that I’ve not been this excited since I discovered the little-known toffee-chocolate HobNob, there must be something in it. And it’s a very specific set of circumstances. Each of these three cars has been driven by Top Gear magazine (and every other big motoring outlet on the planet), but all three have never been in the same place, at the same time, for dissection by the same minds.

    I say ‘minds’. This might lead you to believe that somehow we’re in the company of intellectual heavyweights - really its just Top Gear on tour, rank freshly pulled, meetings duly cancelled. We are hopelessly, joyously over-staffed. Nobody - I mean nobody wanted to miss this one.

    It’s not been easy: Charlie has spent the last few weeks on the phone, and now that the time is nigh, just looks as if he’s about to give birth. Literally give birth. Oliver is fretting about having to compete in the Wales Rally GB tomorrow, and I fell over putting my trousers on this morning. Dates have shifted several times. Flights have been booked, and cancelled, and re-booked. Private owners have offered their cars, but never - quite - at the same time. And yet they are here, together.

    The Big Three. Fully supported by the manufacturers involved, with full disclosure. I think McLaren, Ferrari and Porsche are as interested as we are …

    Yes, pairings have been seen in the same room - not least the 918 and P1 on TG’s own Speed Week 2014, but never this triumvirate, After all, both the McLaren and the Ferrari are both sold out - they have nothing to prove and all to lose. For this, we salute the manufacturers - to be truly proud of your product is to allow comparison with the best. And, to immediately ignore any assumed prejudice, these three really are teetering on the top tier. It’s like having a lion, a tiger, and a leopard all prowling around the same territory: you’re not sure which one might come out on top, but fairly convinced that it will involve a lot of roaring, and someone losing an eye.

    A bit of a baseline to explain why we’re here, and why to see these three together is to gently electrify the tiny hairs on your nape. This is about each company throwing down a technological and ideological gauntlet to the rest of the World, inviting response, and awe. I’m just not sure anyone was expecting three companies to call each other’s bluff so completely in the same 12 months. Yes, these are dream hypercars, and you’re about as likely to pull up next to a P1 in a LaFerrari at the traffic light grand prix as you are to find unicorns giving free rides on Brighton beach, but that doesn’t mean we can’t create the improbable so that you don’t have to.

    All three are hybrids. All three use an electric motor as a large part of their drivetrain make-up, albeit deploying said electrification in very different ways. All three are hysterically fast, probably worryingly in excess of the talents of ninety-percent of the individuals who can afford to buy them, and yes, all three cost enough to buy you a big house somewhere nice. Although as a great man once said: “You can sleep in your car, but you can’t race your house”.

    So which is best? We’re going to do our damndest to find out. We’ll be live-updating our roadtest and photoshoot of these three cars over the next 48 hours on various channels, including right here on, our Facebook page and Twitter accounts.

    Fancy coming with us for the ride?

    Our gallery will be updated regularly over the next two days - check back for more! 

    Words: Tom Ford (@tomwookieford), Charlie Turner (@topgeareditor) and Ollie Marriage (@olliemarriage
    Pictures: Rowan Horncastle (@rowanhorncastle) and Lee Brimble

  2. Wednesday 12 November: 3:30pm

    Tom Ford: This is my first go in the LaFerrari, and I can’t believe how totally different all three cars are. To now find out which will turn out to be my favourite, I’m going to have to drive them all on the same road, on the same day. This is one of the most difficult decisions I think anyone’s ever had to make. There will be a winner though, I guarantee it.

    Charlie Turner on the LaFerrari, P1 and 918

  3. Wednesday 12 November: 3:30pm

    Ollie Marriage: I’m surprised at how analogue the LaFerrari feels: it doesn’t feel like a hybrid at all, it’s a very natural car to drive, really clean, you just drive it like you do a normal car. The visibility is fantastic, the A-pillars are slim so you can see out really nicely, the ride is fantastic and the whole carbon tub is nicely done.

    The Porsche is obviously more electric than the other two, but for me it plays a different role. It also sounds absolutely fantastic. Really racery. I love the exhausts, and that interior design is out there. I suspect the McLaren will be the spiky bugger…

    Top Gear drives the Porsche 918 Spyder

  4. Wednesday 12 November: 3:30pm

    Charlie Turner: To be honest, I’m still pinching myself that we’ve managed to make this happen. I’ve been working on this for months now, and to actually be here with the Top Gear magazine team driving the three most bleeding edge, technologically advanced hypercars on the planet on a road that is just sublime, is out of this world.

    That said, it’s great to be back in the P1, a car that I loved from the first time we brought it to the Top Gear audience before anyone else, and now we’re bringing this to the Top Gear audience before anyone else. It’s an immense privilege.

    Jeremy Clarkson drives the McLaren P1 at Spa

  5. And here are all the cars’ vital statistics to chew on…


    Ferrari LaFerrari: 6.3-litre V12 naturally aspirated
    McLaren P1: 3.8-litre bi-turbo V8
    Porsche 918 Spyder: 4.6-litre V8 naturally aspirated

    Engine power:

    Ferrari: 789bhp, 516lb ft
    McLaren: 727bhp, 531lb ft
    Porsche: 608bhp, 389lb ft


    Ferrari: 161bhp, 199lb ft, 330g/km CO2
    McLaren: 176bhp, 192lb ft, 194g/km CO2
    Porsche: 282bhp, 545lb ft, 70g/km CO2

    Combined power:

    Ferrari: 950bhp and over 663lb ft
    McLaren: 903bhp and 664lb ft
    Porsche: 875bhp and 943lb ft


    Ferrari: seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, rear-wheel-drive, third-gen E-Diff, EF1-Trac F1 TC
    McLaren: seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, rear-wheel-drive, IPAS and DRS
    Porsche: seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic, all-wheel-drive, Hybrid, Sport and Race modes, plus Hot Lap setting


    Ferrari: 265/30 R19 (front) 345/30 R20 (rear)
    McLaren: 245/35 R19 (front) 315/30 R20 (rear)
    Porsche: 265/35 R20 (front) 325/30 R21 (rear)


    Ferrari: 1345kg est
    McLaren: 1395kg
    Porsche: 1634kg


    Ferrari: 2.9s
    McLaren: 2.8s
    Porsche: 2.5s


    Ferrari: 6.9s
    McLaren: 6.8s
    Porsche: 7.2s


    Ferrari: 15s
    McLaren: 16.5s
    Porsche: 19.9s

    Top speed:

    Ferrari: 218mph+
    McLaren: 217mph
    Porsche: 214mph

    LaFerrari: the official Top Gear verdict and video

  6. Wednesday 12 November: 5pm

    Tom Ford: Just been for a proper blast in the P1, and it definitely celebrates its turbos. The only problem is, we’ve just had a little bit of rain, which means that when it hits peak torque on boost, its spinning its wheels. Which is both terrifying and incredibly exciting. I think I’m going to drive myself mental with this one.

    Jeremy Clarkson’s extended drive of the McLaren P1

  7. Wednesday 12 November: 10:40pm

    And so. It’s been a properly epic day. And we mean that entirely literally. The three cars that nobody ever thought would be tested together, done.

  8. Wednesday 12 November: 10:40pm

    We’ve had a good few hours in them now - in rain and sun, on the same roads, in the same hands. And it’s confusing, downright damnation, to try and find a winner. But we’re getting there.

  9. Wednesday 12 November: 10:40pm

    Lots of rain and impenetrable dark mean we’ve had to tuck the cars up for the night, but we’re due out early in the morning. Fancy joining us? Part II is tomorrow. We can’t bloody wait…

  10. Thursday 13 November: 7.30am

    Charlie Turner: Day two and we’re up before the sun and heading into the hills for more incredible action. First job is to get the cars out of the underground bunker under our hotel. The 918 slips silently into the morning in EV mode followed by the ghostly P1. So far, so silent. The Ferrari likes to make its presence known and barks to life waking everyone in the neighbourhood.

    It’s damp as our hypercar trio heads into the hills and I’ve called dibs on the 918, it’s AWD traction offering a safety net on this first run of the morning. A few miles in and the rear view mirror is still filled with the P1 and LaFerrari. The Porsche’s trick is the breadth of its ability and the confidence it inspires, the hypercar you can use everyday.

    The sun is trying its best to make itself known as we park all three of these extraordinary creations at the top of the hill and start shooting. It’s going to be another truly amazing day.

  11. Thursday 13 November: 8am

    Tom Ford: I’m confused. But it’s all getting clearer. In the dark and rain of last night, I gravitated to the 918. And remembered just how wonderful this car really is. Going quickly, safely, is just a joy. It looks after you so neatly, but is so devastatingly fast. It feels much more committed to pushing the boundaries of the hybrid tech - it’s much more deeply a hybrid, much prouder of its electricity, than either of the other two. It’s got a much broader remit. It also feels pretty stiff, and heavier. And it’s harder to play with at the limit.

    The Big Mac makes me grin like a loon every time. Just driven it up into the hills, and my goodness you have to be on point. Get boost on camber and it’ll throw the back axle out, whoosh, spit, cackle and chunter. It’s a bloody marvel. But you have to commit. And learn it a bit. It’s not hard to actually drive, but to drive fast in tricky conditions, you have to bloody concentrate.

    Which leaves the LaF. Almost the ‘least’ hybrid of the bunch. And it’s just … my kind of thing. I’m not a particular Ferrari fanboy - not overly fond of the hype - but crikey, this car is a thing. So natural. So progressive. It actually doesn’t feel as quick as either of the other two, but it’s alive. Like a 458 Speciale Extra Speciale. And I love the seating, and the steering, and the ‘box. But the Ferrari jabs and weaves where the McLaren stands and delivers haymakers.

    But then I love the way the other two look as well, for different reasons.

    There’s nothing for it. I’m going to have to go and drive some more and see if my opinions change as the road dries out a bit.

    Don’t worry. I think I’ll be ok.

  12. Thursday 13 November: 8am

    Ollie Marriage: The LaFerrari is shockingly manageable - so much so you’re rarely aware it’s a hybrid, which was Ferrari’s intention. It’s so good in so many areas, so approachable, so smooth-riding, so capable, that it starts feeling a bit like a 458, just one that happens to go effing rampant if you get a bit bolshy with the throttle.

    The McLaren is the car I’d keep coming back to, knowing I hadn’t tamed it yet, hadn’t gotten everything out of it. It’s the one that teases and attracts you to it because it’s just so nuts. It’s the combination of turbo force and hybrid hit that makes it hard to tackle the P1 head on. Especially on a wet road.

    Porsche is the fastest cross country. It’s also the most forward looking of the three, the only one I think represents the future. The others come across as being naturally aspirated cars that have grudgingly had hybrid forced upon them. The Porsche seems more cohesively thought through. And I love the interior, though not a fan of the seats that are too upright, nor the fact the steering doesn’t adjust for height.

    Ferrari’s steering wheel will butt you in the chest if you keep pulling at it, and I love the moving pedal box. Felt very at home in the LaFerrari, although the seats didn’t give me enough lateral support - I’d have the McLaren’s chairs of the three…

  13. Thursday 13 November: 6pm

    Charlie Turner: The P1 is on its way back to Woking, the 918 is heading to Weissach and we’ve just delivered the Ferrari LaFerrari back to Maranello. Two amazing days, three amazing cars and undoubtably the best drive of our lives.

    A huge thanks to everyone who has made this incredible event possible. We’re heading to the airport now desperately trying to process it all and come back down from a £2.5m adrenaline rush. It’s going to take a while to process.

    Be with you in a bit.

  14. Thursday 13 November: 6pm

    Tom Ford: So. That’s it - done. The cars are back with the manufacturers, nobody crashed, and the relief is palpable. Honestly, despite loving every minute, I’ve been fretting solidly for about a week, and handing back these cars has been like removing my batteries. It’s been wet, it’s been dry. It’s been hectic, and there’s been a lot to do. Throw in some intense and expensive next-level hypercars, narrow roads and Italian driving, and every three-point turn becomes an adventure for your nerves. And there were a lot of three-point turns.

    But like I said, it’s done. We’ve purposely not talked about which cars we liked the most, to see if we came to the same conclusions. So Charlie, Ollie and I will give our verdicts in the morning. I know which way I’m heading… can you guess?

    In the meantime, we’ve got a few more pics from this astonishing hypercar hypertest for you to enjoy, so click on.

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