This LaFerrari Aperta is likely to be the only one to ever grace the roads of South Africa. In an exclusive drive, we take the wheel of  the most expensive modern-day Ferrari...

It looks almost alien ... notice the bug-like LED lights, sharply curved body, massive air intakes and that jutting chin of a low front spoiler. Parked with the doors open (at a different angle than the coupé’s), the narrow carbon-fibre tub is on display, adding acute focus to the unique body of the LaFerrari Aperta.

When Ferrari released the LaFerrari coupé in 2013, it decided to make only 499 units (and sold one more at an auction for the victims of the earthquake in Italy) to some of its most loyal clients. The sold-out Aperta was on another level of exclusivity, though; Ferrari settled on just 200 units, with a few extra for itself to celebrate its 70th anniversary.

Although Ferrari usually allows customers to spec their cars to their heart’s content, this was not the case with the Aperta. Five exterior colours were offered alongside five interior options, and that was it. Still, you wouldn’t have said no, would you? This vehicle, owned by a South African, is painted in Bianco Fuji metallic white, which allows otherwise subtle details to jump out, including the black wheels framing massive callipers that grip vast carbon-ceramic brakes. I take a peek at the rear and most striking is the wide, compartmentalised diffuser – which features an active aerodynamics system – that channels the air underneath the car as smoothly as possible.

Open the door and you’re greeted by a carbon-fibre feast. The seats are thinly padded and the doors ultra-lightweight despite closing with a solid thud; every component on the Aperta has been machined to save weight and make it car as stiff as possible.


This car is not simply a roofless LaFerrari. Ferrari’s engineers had to redevelop the lower section of the carbon-fibre tub to cope with the new stresses the frame is put through with the roof removed. Although there is a start button on the steering wheel, the key must first be turned. As I do so, the engine barks to life with a raw, metallic violence. You sit low in the car and to the centre. That, coupled with your bum being inches above the tar, engenders a feeling of unity with the car. The driving position is inch-perfect and, thanks to the pronounced fenders stretching over the bulging wheelarches, placing the car in corners is easy. Even at low speeds, the abundance of torque from the V12 engine, combined with the hybrid system that delivers 120 kW, makes extremely quick progress effortless.  Below 3 000 r/min, the exhaust is relatively subdued; however, crest that point and the sound and fury ramp up to a searing crescendo north of 9 000 r/min. Everything becomes a blur and intense concentration is the only option.

The brakes are superbly sensitive, while the steering ratio is another highlight. Like all modern-day Ferraris, small angles on the wheel make the car dart into corners.  But the star is the V12. As the revs rise, the sonorous intensity of this naturally aspirated unit is undoubtedly the best I’ve experienced. Each gearshift, up or down, is instantaneously executed, while downshifts are an indulgence as the blipping function is accompanied by a deafening bark, intensified by the cliffs alongside Franschhoek Pass.  Adding to the intoxicating cacophony is the fact that you hear every pebble and stone thrown up by the massive tyres hitting the carbon-fibre tub. It feels pure racecar. But the intimidation soon fades as you find a rhythm with the Aperta. Once you lean on its unflappable composure through corners and start growing accustomed to the dumbfounding acceleration, a feeling of invincibility sets in. Only a pedigreed, beautifully engineered hypercar elicits that response...


I’ve been privileged enough to also drive the LaFerrari coupé (August 2016) and the Aperta feels equally stiff, while adding another wonderful layer of involvement, thanks to the absence of a roof. There are talks that soon all Ferraris will be hybrid systems. If they’re in any way as well engineered as this vehicle – and by that I mean the electric component adds to the experience, rather than detracting from it – we have much to celebrate.  The LaFerrari Aperta represents 21st century Ferrari operating at the height of its powers and will undoubtedly become a very expensive cult classic (if it isn’t already!). Count yourself lucky if you ever spot one. Thankfully for the CAR crew and I who were present on the day, a LaFerrari Aperta once found itself attacking some of the best roads in the Cape Winelands...