The Latest in Supercars From 2017 Geneva Motor Show
Here in Europe, the arrival of March is a time of anticipation and optimism hoping to brush away the mid-winter blues – and what better way to cure them than with the latest in automotive, found at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. There was plenty found there to lift the spirits, especially in the high performance class. Take a look...
Ferrari 812 Superfast Is the Last of a Legend
Where better to start the quest than with Ferrari? The Italian motoring aristocrats celebrate 70 years of passion and speed in 2017, so a new car would be revealed at Geneva, that was a racing certainty and Maranello did not disappoint.
The Ferrari 812 Superfast is the latest in an unbroken line of V-12-powered cars stretching back to the start of the legend. It is rumored to be the last in such a pure configuration as turbocharging and hybrid technology will be features of the next generation of Ferraris in this market segment.
Looking like a Million Dollars, but costing only $300,000, the two examples of the 812 Superfast on display featured new Ferrari colors - the special celebratory Rosso 70 Anni (above) and Grigio Caldo Opaco (below). Mamma Mia!
The real story lies under the seductive curves of the bodywork, especially up front, with the 6.5L V-12 engine pushing out 789bhp and prodigious amounts of torque to match. This record breaking amount of power gives this new Berlinetta a performance level that almost matches the La Ferrari.
The task of controlling the prancing horses is optimized by the introduction of electric power steering, and it is the first Ferrari to use such a system, developed to work with Ferrari’s Slide Slip Control. Also new, is the second generation of Virtual Short Wheelbase, which sharpens the car’s handling to give quicker steering response times.
The cabin is appointed in a style, as one might expect, the Ferrari 812 Superfast will be another home run from Ferrari and is the rightful heir to a fantastic dynasty. I somehow doubt that this beauty will be anything other than a sell out, a 'Prince among Cars' perhaps.
The McLaren 720S Launches to New Heights
McLaren is one of the very few brands with a motorsport heritage that is the equal of Ferrari, and since 2012 it has attacked the Italians on the road as well, producing a tightly focused series of high performance sports cars. The rivalry on the track has now spilled into the streets, and at Geneva McLaren unveiled their latest supercar, the McLaren 720S.
This second generation McLaren will replace the 650S as the company's core model. I considered McLaren's history and future plans recently HERE, while test driving the 570S model, and now we witness the first part of this journey.
The latest Super Series model is lighter, faster and aerodynamically superior to its predecessor. Like all the other models in the range, the 720S is a two-seater with a carbon fiber one-piece tub, the front and rear suspension is mounted on aluminum space frames, and the whole affair is powered by 4L twin-turbocharged V-8, said to be good for 710bhp.
The increase in power is matched by a reduction in weight, revised suspension geometry and updates to the braking system – all of this adds up to a significant increase in performance and driver satisfaction.
There is a new driver interface inside the cockpit, which has been redesigned to enhance a feeling of "space" for both the driver and passenger.
The McLaren 720S is available at a cost of around $250,000, with the production run expected to be approximately 1,200 in 2017 with an increase to 1,500 in 2018. The first deliveries will commence in May and the initial run of 400 "Launch Edition" cars have already been sold. The importance to McLaren of the 720S cannot be over emphasized as Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Automotive comments:
“Super Series is the core of the McLaren business and personifies the blend of extreme performance, crafted luxury and unparalleled driver involvement that is the McLaren heartland. This is the first time we have replaced a product family and the new 720S is absolutely true to McLaren’s pioneering spirit in being a revolutionary leap forwards, both for our brand and the supercar segment.”
As with most cars in this class, there are almost endless variations in specification for the 720S. McLaren highlighted this by choosing to place a bespoke version of the 720S on the stand at Geneva. The work of McLaren Special Operations (MSO), the 720S Velocity has a new and exclusive paint range, together with bronze-finished lightweight alloys, exterior carbon parts and is finished in a Carbon Black Alcantara trim.
The mechanical specification is the same as the standard car, but McLaren expect 20% of customers to opt for this package which takes the asking price above $400,000... exclusivity comes at a cost.
Triple Threat From Porsche, Beginning With the Porsche 911 GT3
If Ferrari and McLaren were introducing state-of-the-art new models, Porsche just keeps fine tuning their 911. In particular, the GT3. The big news here is Porsche has listened to customers' wishes and is now again offering a transmission option! The PKD dual-clutch system has been the only game in town since 2013, this year we'll see manual transmission added to Porsche's offerings in their GT3.
The traditional flat-six engine, now a full 4L, revs all the way up to 9000rpm and gives 493bhp – singing in the way that Porsches should. The weight saving measures include a reduction in soundproofing, which will surely please those who enjoy the sound of their motoring.
Drawing on experiences with the 911 R, Porsche has managed to increase downforce while reducing drag. This apparent contradiction of the laws of physics has been achieved by relocating the rear spoiler and combining it with the other aerodynamic devices such as the diffuser and underbody.
Will Porsche Release a Street Legal 911 RSR?
The other story making the rounds at Geneva regarding the 911 was rumors of a road-going version of the latest 911 RSR racecar, with a mid-engined configuration going into production. A seismic shift from 50+ years of rear-engined 911s. In the tradition of listening to their customers, it is something that Porsche are supposedly considering seriously. Time will tell.
2017 RUF CTR Pays Homage in the Best Way Possible
At the other end of the 911 story is RUF and their reworked 911 based on the venerable 964 model, the CTR. Actually, "reworked" does RUF a complete injustice, this is no tuners' special. This car features a carbon monocoque chassis and is the first rear-engined car to do so. Incorporated into this chassis is a steel roll cage.
Power is quoted at 700bhp from the twin-turbo 3.6L flat-six, a development of the classic, water-cooled Mezger Porsche engine. Rear wheel drive, the handsome carbon fiber bodywork pays tribute to RUF's legendary CTR "Yellow Bird".
“The concept for the 2017 CTR is one that I have had in my head for a very long time,” said Alois Ruf, President and owner of RUF Automobile GmbH. “We have been waiting for the right point in our history to build our own car and the 30th anniversary of the CTR ‘Yellow Bird’ is that moment.”
In a show full of super cars and concepts, the CTR stood out for me, the clean and simple design is in perfect harmony – perhaps it is appealing to my inner '80s. Just 30 examples of the RUF CTR will be built, making this a pretty exclusive 911.
Spyker Is Back, and They Mean Business
And finally, my last highlight from this year's crop of new Super Cars at Geneva Motor Show comes from my old Dutch friends, Spyker. I must confess that I shot for the "Crazy Dutch Guys" when they raced at Le Mans and other great endurance events. Their story could fill a book – as Spyker were nearly put out of business, but CEO Victor Muller refused to give up. He got the judgements reversed and, Lazarus-like, Spyker reappeared at Geneva a year ago.
This year, not only was there a new car, the C8 Preliator Spyder, but Victor had another rabbit to pull from his hat. It was announced that:
"Spyker has signed an Engine Supply Agreement with Christian von Koenigsegg, Founder and CEO of Koenigsegg Automotive AB (“Koenigsegg”) from Angelholm, Sweden, during a press conference at the 87th Geneva International Motor Show. Both the Spyker C8 Preliator as well as its Spyder version, which was unveiled at the press conference, will be propelled by the new Koenigsegg engine."
The new engine for Spyker has been extensively reworked from the unit that powers the Swedish Ultra Cars – the turbochargers have been removed and the engine's architecture altered to fit into the rear of the Preliator. Victor put the rational for the move thus:
"This is our single most important advancement in technology since I founded Spyker in 2000. I have always admired the amazing technologies developed by Christian von Koenigsegg and his dedicated team creating one of the most sophisticated cars and engines on the planet, and I am convinced our Spyker C8 Preliator clients will tremendously enjoy the huge performance leap."
"The 600 horsepower V8 engine with manual gearbox, ticks all the boxes of the Spyker brand; it's Bold, Pure, and Engaging but foremost hyper-exclusive hence a perfect match to the Spyker C8 Preliator coupe as well as the Spyder we unveil this morning. In fact, this is the only 600 horsepower series produced sports car available with a manual gearbox on the market today. Although our peers believe the manual is virtually dead, and many have vowed we would never see them again, our discerning clients have clearly spoken out in favor of the manual: the Koenigsegg powered Spyker C8 Preliator Spyder will provide an engaging purist driving experience second to none tantalizing all senses. The howling sound of this normally aspirated engine will be unmistakable and thrilling."
The production run of the Preliator Spyder will be limited to just 100, guaranteeing exclusivity to anyone who opts for the Dutch Master. At a price approaching $500,000, they are expected to sell out soon.
Spyker is back and they mean business. Coming up next up from the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, we'll take a look at the top concept cars... stay tuned.