Ferrari SF90 Stradale review


What is?

Depending on how you view Ferrari, the SF90 is potentially controversial. It’s the company’s new flagship, but it’s not powered by a seminal V12. It’s also not a limited edition just for collectors. It is 4×4. There are three electric motors. You can plug it in. It starts quietly and can drive quietly. There has never been a Ferrari capable of doing this before. There also haven’t been any where the brake pedal isn’t connected directly to the calipers. Or no mechanical tachometer behind the wheel. There isn’t even a reverse gear on the gearbox, but relax, there is one somewhere else.

And yet, this is Ferrari’s fastest and most powerful road car. Faster around the local Fiorano circuit than the LaFerrari, delivering 986 bhp (that’s 1,000 metric bhp) on the road, the same as a Bugatti Veyron, but with essentially half the engine capacity and turbos, and with a weight several hundred pounds less. So yes, it’s fast – 0-62mph in 2.5 seconds, 124mph in 6.7 seconds – the latter figures 1.5 seconds ahead of the F8 Tributo, and in the same league as the Koenigsegg One:1 and McLaren Senna, both of which are in a different price league.

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It really is a crossover, bridging the gap between supercar and hypercar. Hypercar performance, supercar price. Well not really. In fact, it’s probably the highest price a company has ever dared to charge for a non-limited edition model: £376,048. And all the options. You’ll do well to avoid spending less than half a million once Ferrari briefs you on the Assetto Fiorano package (30kg shed for £39,360) and a full carbon strategy.

This is standard. An aluminum chassis (not carbon, apart from the rear dashboard) that has some points in common with the F8 Tributo, but is 20% stiffer. The internal combustion engine is also similar to the F8, and perhaps the proportions haven’t changed much, which may make you wonder where your money is going as the price has nearly doubled. So let’s dig a little deeper. Take the engine. It uses the same basic block, but almost everything – the turbos, the intake and exhaust manifolds, the radically different head assembly, the crankshaft, the pistons – is new. It is direct injection. This is a first for a Ferrari V8. It is a wider gauge. It offers an additional 59 hp for a total of 769 hp. It is 25kg lighter than the F8 engine and is mounted 50mm lower in the frame. When you open the lid and look at it, it seems to be underground. The exhaust is Inconel, like an F1.

The aerodynamics are so sophisticated that Ferrari has two patents pending, one for the vortex generators in the airflow under the driver’s feet (which have been raised 15mm to make room for them), another for the rear wing, which it does not open, but instead drops a center section to prevent airflow from passing through the low-drag slot. 390kg of downforce at 155mph. Then there’s the terrifyingly complex electronics: an electric motor for each front wheel, and another between the motor and gearbox. It’s 4WD up to 130mph, but above that the front motors are off and all the power going to them goes to the third motor, so you’ve got close to 1000bhp through the only rear wheels.

The gearbox has an additional gear (eight gears forward), but it is 10 kg lighter. This is mainly because there is no reverse gear: reverse gear is handled solely by the electric motors in the front wheels. On the rear deck you’ll find two filler caps for fuel and electricity: the battery isn’t huge, a 72kg rod that sits in the frame behind the seats and has a capacity of 7.9kW. Ferrari claims a range of 15 miles. But the SF90 isn’t just about driving in electric mode, it’s about the benefits that electricity can bring to the driving experience: the ability of the front axle to deliver power exactly when it’s needed, the benefits of traction, acceleration, instant torque as the turbos get in your way. That’s what a hybrid system can offer. Well, that and another 250 kilos of weight.

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Beyond that, Ferrari is candid that the lessons learned from the SF90 will flow directly into the next generation of road cars. It will not be the only Ferrari that will be driven only electrically. Instead, it’s a glimpse into the future, though one could argue the technology doesn’t seem all that different from the systems fitted to the Porsche 918 Spyder six years ago (another plug-in with electric front-axle drive and a V8 engine). engine there). But that doesn’t mean things haven’t progressed…

Images: Marc Riccioni

Our choice of the range.

2 automatic doors

What’s the verdict?

As an object lesson in uniting the discordant forces of gasoline and electricity, it’s impressive.

The importance of SF90 cannot be overstated. The LaFerrari was a toe in hybrid waters. This is the jump run. It is Ferrari’s flagship, from which learning will cascade, and it is the biggest change of direction, the most radical adoption of new technology in living memory and one of the most important cars to ever come out of Maranello.

As a preparation for what lies ahead it is perfect, although it is undeniable that part of what lies ahead is an attenuation of the influence of the internal combustion engine. Ferrari mastered the technology, but couldn’t jingle the electricity or behave any differently from the others. But for now, there is nothing like it, which puts Ferrari in a dominant position against its rivals.

As a practical lesson in uniting the discordant forces of gasoline and electricity, it’s an amazing machine. A 1,000-hp hybrid accessible enough to drive with confidence, agile, controllable and gentle in your hands. It’s not a thousand-horsepower sledgehammer, though it packs that punch on every straightaway.

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