Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, Ferrari LaFerrari, Porsche 918 Spyder 18 Photos Zoom

Veyron, LaFerrari and 918 Spyder compared: Summit meeting with 3,050 bhp

Three supercars with differing drive concepts at a summit meeting in Hockenheim: can the newcomers from Ferrari and Porsche, featuring cutting edge hybrid technology, steal the throne from the Bugatti?

On the drive to Hockenheim threateningly dark clouds gather in the skies. Hopefully there won't be any rain, as today we could really do without it. Dieter Glemser, former European Touring Car Champion, invited his friends for a few laps. There are at least 60 sports cars in the pit lane, some car fans have brought several with them.

The Bugatti Veyron delivers 1,200 bhp

Detlef Hübner arrived with a Ferrari LaFerrari and a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport. Just one car is missing if we are to complete the current top three in the super-class, and it is parked just one bay away. For in these illustrious circle Porsche cannot miss out on the opportunity to counter with a 918 Spyder. Thus, a summit meeting of a very special kind is to take place: three supercars, three drive concepts and a total of 3,050 bhp.

The Bugatti Veyron boasts a 1,200 bhp W16-cylinder engine, four turbo chargers and an eight-litre cylinder capacity. The brute force of the huge mid-engine takes to the road on all fours. Its Italian competitor lines up with a 6.3-litre V12 cylinder engine. The propulsion system of the parallel hybrid is supported by an additional electric motor at the rear axle. The combustion engine alone delivers 800 bhp, with the overall system output at 963 bhp.

Rear-wheel vs. all-wheel drive

The electric engine not only provides additional thrust, especially at lower speeds, but ESP, ASR and ABS interventions are occasionally controlled via the electric engine. Targeted pulses of power improve the switching times and gear change. While the Ferrari relies solely on rear-wheel drive, the Porsche 918 distributes its drive power across all four wheels like the Bugatti Veyron – only with much more elegance. In the Porsche the main drive is provided by a 4.6-litre V8 engine with 608 bhp. Added to this are electric engines at the front and rear axles, thus increasing the overall output to 887 bhp. Its lithium ion batteries can be charged at the electrical outlet.

Alongside the pair of highly-strung racehorses, the Bugatti seems like a veteran show horse. It displays a certain visual heaviness – and in any case has a weight of 1,838 kilograms.

Bugatti Veyron from 0 to 100 in 2.5 seconds

Nonetheless: the 1,200 bhp – distributed to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch transmission – guarantee maximum acceleration. Initially the wave of power feels rather restrained. The four turbos endeavour to shovel enough air into the combustion chambers. But then it comes thick and fast. Your head is pressed back – into the finest leather, of course. Jet feeling in a luxurious ambience. Only the aggressive sound doesn't quite fit with the overall picture. The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport is no racer, but it really can get going. Thanks to its Launch Control system, it manages the sprint from 0 to 100 in 2.5 seconds.

And the orgy continues: 200 km/h after 6.7 seconds, and the 300 mark after just 14.6 seconds. The road is eaten up, and at the end lurks the hairpin bend. It is literally flying towards you. If the acceleration is an act of violence, then the deceleration is a real show. An enormous aerofoil panel is raised at the rear and works flat out with a force of 1,200 bhp. In addition to this, four ceramic brake discs – as large as XXL pizzas – bite in with an additional braking force of 2,800 bhp. Even when the ABS drops out within the control range, it is astonishing how brutally the two-tonne colossus decelerates. This violent ordeal takes its toll. After a few such manoeuvres, the brakes get so hot that the rims tarnish. For this reason Hübner first prescribes the Bugatti Veyron a few cool-down laps before it continues.

In this regard to two other sports cars have far fewer problems, weighing in at just 1,675 (Porsche) and a slender 1,365 kilograms (Ferrari). The 918 is a genuine sound artist, with the V8 producing a profound gurgle in manual mode. However, marketing manager Andreas Henke recommends the automatic, as it shifts through the gears so nimbly, and promises: "You cannot do it any faster."

Advantage Porsche when it comes to traction

The V8 turns at over 9,000 rpm and, in combination with the pair of electric motors, it really gets stuck in. In spite of this, the Ferrari seems to be more agressive and have more bite, especially from beneath, although it doesn't have the traction of the Porsche or its handling. It corners briskly and feels far more stable than the Ferrari in the bend. Even the active aerodynamic aids do not help it – three adjustable flaps in the undercarriage, two flaps in the rear diffuser and the rear spoiler, which are meant to ensure optimal aerodynamic balance depending on the steering angle, accelerator position and yaw rate.

Aerodynamically the Porsche also has the advantage that it can be converted into a Cabrio by removing both roof sections. This not only ensures pleasant temperatures in the cockpit, but also generates a special background noise consisting of swooshing, hissing and the robust hammer of the V8. In this regard, the Ferrari can offer the shrill tone of the V12. However, it also has an architectonic highlight: upon opening the doors, the sills kind of fold up with the doors. You practically step right into the living room, where the seats are securely mounted to the carbon chassis.

The Porsche Spyder manages a maximum speed of 345 km/h

Its top speed is said to be north of 350 km/h, whereas according to factory specifications, the Porsche can manage a maximum of 345 km/h. Here the Bugatti Veyron exerts its brute force and pushes itself – released using a special key beside the driver's seat – up to a speed of 415. At this point it is electronically limited. And anyone who has completed the 400 km/h drive receives a corresponding jacket.
Detlef Hübner not only has the jacket, but his name is also on the 400 km/h record board in Molsheim, right at the top - in first place. As the crackling trio of sports cars cool off and relax, I ask him what his favourite car is: "In the city I drive my wife's Mini Cabrio." And when on holiday? "In the Bentley." And the Bugatti? "It is not only fast, but also a piece of art," says Hübner, "a car for those special moments in life."

However, he enjoys driving an Opel Diplomat V8 just as much. And when he wants to experience cutting edge technology, then the Ferrari rolls out of the garage. Hübner: "It is face – a piece of motor sports memorabilia." Regarding rolling: as a side note, the collector outs himself as a Tesla fan. He received his American electric car in November, and there are now already 16,500 kilometres on the tachometer. Thus, the Porsche 918 Spyder may well have a good chance of making it into Detlef Hübner's collection. For the supercar can not only move fast, but when driven purely by electricity it still has a rage of 35 kilometres.

Bernd Ostmann

Author

Photo

Hans-Dieter Seufert

Date

11 February 2015
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