Turbos and electric motors and AWD, oh my

Ferrari’s New Car Moves Away From 80 Years of Tradition


May 30, 2019 Cars By
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Eighty years ago, a racing manager named Enzo Ferrari left the corporate confines of Alfa Romeo to start his own company. The brand he would launch under his own name would, in time, grow to become among the best-known companies not just in the automotive space, but in the world — a name synonymous with speed, performance, elegance and craftsmanship, one that came to represent the very promise and potential of the automobile.

But in all that time, there’s never been a Ferrari quite like the all-new SF90 Stradale. Not only is it the quickest Ferrari road car ever made, it’s also the first sports car from the brand to pack all-wheel-drive and a hybrid powertrain.

Granted, there have been all-wheel-drive Ferraris, like the FF/GTC4Lusso, and there have been hybrid Ferraris, like the LaFerrari. But the former is a four-seat gran turismo, and the latter was a limited-run hypercar. The SF90 Stradale, on the flip side, is a regular production sports car, with two seats and an uncapped production numbers, like the F8 Tributo and 812 Superfast that sit below it in the lineup. And it is the first F-car to pack both all-wheel-drive and a hybrid powerplant at the same time, so the claims of its ground-breaking status are legitimate.

About that powertrain: It’s built around a version of the F154 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 found in various forms across the Ferrari (and Maserati) lineup, here tuned to whip up 769 horsepower all on its lonesome. But it’s not alone; like beer bottles on the end of David Patrick Kelley’s fingers, three electric motors have also come out to play. A Formula 1-derived one known as the Motor Generator Unit, Kinetic sits at the back between the V8 and the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (yes, Ferrari’s first eight-speed), while two more electric motors sit up front, feeding power to the front wheels. All told, the powerplants generate a combined 983 horsepower, which seems a tad random until you realize that works out to a cool 1,000 in slightly-wimper metric ponies.

That, according to Ferrari, is enough to launch the car from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds, and from 0-124 miles per hour in 6.7. Stay on the go pedal long enough, and the carmaker says it’ll finally hit the proverbial wall at 211 mph. It can also lap the famed Fiorano racetrack in 1:19, nearly a second ahead of the LaFerrari.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Ferrari if it couldn’t turn as well as it goes. The electric motors on the front axle allow for a new level of torque vectoring, while the latest versions of the company’s electronic traction control helps meter out the power. The chassis does its part, too; it’s all-new, comprised of a blend of carbon fiber, aluminum, and 7000-series steel, making the car 20 percent and 40 percent more rigid than previous F-cars. And to help keep the car stuck to the ground in turns, aerodynamic features like a patented “shut-off Gurney” feature in the spoiler that opens and shuts to change the airflow help provide 858 pounds of downforce at 155 mph.

The whole driving experience is managed not just by the diminutive click wheel known as the manettino, but by a series of buttons on the opposite side of the steering wheel that let the driver toggle between four modes: eDrive, which lets the car putter around in front-wheel-drive under electric power alone for 15 miles or so; Hybrid, the default, which lets the army of computers decide which combination of gas and electric power is best; Performance, which keeps the turbo V8 running all the time to ensure a peppy power delivery and keep the battery juiced; and Qualify, which takes the governors off the electric motors and lets them run as hot as possible instead of worrying about recharging.

Inside, the SF90 Stradale boasts a whole new cabin layout unlike any other Ferrari. Behind the new steering wheel (which now includes a touchpad control, in addition to buttons for the blinkers, headlights, wipers and other features) lies a 16-inch curved screen that serves as instrument panel and infotainment system alike. There’s a head-up display system to help drivers keep their eyes on the road with the same diligence they keep their hands on the wheel. Behind the sole cupholder lies Ferrari’s new electronic shifter, a trio of toggle switches designed to resemble the gated manual gearboxes that were staples of Maranello’s machines for so long and now command big bucks on Bring a Trailer.

Which, of course, brings us to how much this baby costs. A price wasn’t formally announced, but as the new range-topper of the company’s line of “regular” cars, it’ll certainly start above the rest of the series production models in the portfolio. Don’t be surprised if the MSRP happens to start around $500,000 when the next-generation Ferrari starts coming off the assembly line later in 2019. If that’s too much for you, even by Ferrari standards, don’t sweat; the SF90 Stradale’s hybrid tech will soon make its way down to other cars in the company’s lineup.

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