The new SF90 Stradale is the world’s fastest production Ferrari in history. Please form an orderly queue.
By Guilherme Marques
One thousand horsepower. Ferrari has reached the magical number with the new SF90 Stradale, a birthday present from the company to its racing department. The world famous Scuderia Ferrari, was conceived by the “Old Man” himself, Enzo Anselmo Ferrari, in 1929, when he was managing Alfa Romeo’s competition efforts.
Stradale is the Italian word for ‘road-going version’, which makes the name kind of self-explanatory: if this year’s Formula 1 car is called the SF90, then this is the closest anyone will get to driving the same technology on the road.
The SF90 Stradale is the most powerful and most advanced road car Ferrari has ever produced. As a result, it is also the fastest accelerating Prancing Horse in history. At a time when the market is changing at an overwhelming pace, this new milestone in the brand’s illustrious path is also the first series production Ferrari to feature plug-in hybrid technology. Unlike, say, the LaFerrari, which was limited to 499 units worldwide, the SF90 is limited only by the factory’s capacity to produce them – but taking into account that rumours are already circling the Internet that it is sold out, it will definitely be another unobtainium-grade Cavallino.
At the heart of the SF90 lies the most prize-winning engine of the 21st Century, Ferrari’s F154 V8 twin-turbocharged, bored out from its usual 3902cc to 3990cc and engineered with narrow cylinder heads, a new intake, exhaust and combustion system. It alone generates 780 horse power. The turbochargers are mounted lower in the engine bay, the flywheel is smaller and the exhaust is built out of Inconel, a special alloy developed to be extremely light and heat-resistant.
The combined 1000 horsepower is achieved via the extra 220 ponies provided by a trio of electric motors – two at the front and one at the rear between the engine and the gearbox. This makes the car actually a four-wheel drive. In pure electric mode, the SF90 can travel up to 25 km at speeds up to 135 km/h.
The Italian engineers have developed a new eight-speed double-clutch gearbox. Lighter and 30% faster than the outgoing seven-speed, it also promises an increase in fuel economy by up to 8% in what Ferrari calls ‘normal driving’. What this means is less obvious in a car with 1000 horsepower under your right foot. No matter: it allows the Stradale to reach 100km/h in a mind-blowing 2.5 seconds and 200km/h in a barely believable 6.7 seconds. Around Ferrari’s Fiorano test track, it beats the LaFerrari by a mesmerizing 64 metres when competing a full lap of the circuit. Just five years ago, the €1.5M LaFerrari seemed like the benchmark for at least a decade. Now, a car that costs half is already faster.
At the launch in Maranello, attended by 2000 potential buyers with a very exclusive invitation in hand, Design Director Flavio Manzoni confessed this was a ‘long and complex’ job. Ferrari’s design language is one of the most iconic elements of the brand – dare we say the whole car industry? And finding a perfect balance between that heritage and the need to incorporate the most advanced and efficient aerodynamics was one of the greatest challenges Manzoni has ever faced.
The result is truly spectacular: a beauty that exudes modernity and technology, but still transpires what Ferrari has always embodied: emotion, passion and speed. Two body styles are available, depending on what the customer wants from the car: the standard one and the Assetto Fiorano package, which was created to offer better track pace and to extract every little ounce of performance from the car. It features a taller rear spoiler for increased downforce, a more stripped-out interior and bespoke carbon fibre detailing. It weighs 30kg less and costs €70.000 more. It also comes with Michelin Cup 2 tyres featuring a bespoke compound instead of the Pirelli P Zero tyres of the standard car.
The new interior is just as striking as the exterior, with a futuristic looking dashboard, a completely new interface housed in a 16 inch curved digital cluster that controls all the car functions and infotainment. 80% of those functions can also be controlled via the steering wheel, as Ferrari is adamant ‘eyes on the road, hands on the wheel’ is a key safety motivation for the team.
Ferrari is still the most evocative name in the automotive business and the SF90 Stradale is another poster car that will fill the imagination of millions and the garage space of the few lucky owners who, according to Ferrari, own at least one other Prancing Horse. As the world progresses and technology becomes ever more important, cars are likely to have to dramatically change in order to remain relevant. Ferrari has always had the right recipe for that: take passion, add whatever makes sense at the time and paint it red.