Ferrari's first 'green' car is a 1,000 horsepower plug-in hybrid...
Entire warehouses could be filled with the volumes of books written about Enzo Ferrari and the racing team and sports car company to bear his name
ENTIRE warehouses could be filled with the volumes of books written about Enzo Ferrari and the racing team and sports car company to bear his name, writes William Scholes.
The best biography on the great man that I’ve read is that written by American journalist Brock Yates.
Yates was a colourful character. Among his claims to fame was setting up a coast-to-coast race across the United States; driving with Le Mans winner and Formula One racer Dan Gurney, he won the inaugural event, which inspired the movies Cannonball!, The Gumball Rally and The Cannonball Run.
In contrast to the goofiness of the Cannonball enterprises, his book Enzo Ferrari: the Man, the Cars, the Races is a model of detailed research and fine writing.
Over time, certain engine types and drivetrains become synonymous with particular manufacturers.
For example, Porsche has decades of the 911 and its rear-engined six-cylinder ‘boxer’ engine at the heart of its story; Audi has put four-wheel-drive at the heart of its Quattro heritage; and top-of-the-range Ferrari sports cars traditionally use a V12 engine and rear-wheel-drive.
I was reminded of the link between Ferrari and V12 engines when re-reading Yates’s book recently.
Enzo, upon his encounter with an American Packard engine in 1919, is supposed to have said, “From that moment I married the 12-cylinder engine, and I never divorced it”.
Ferrari the man may have been resolute on the V12 question but the company has just entered the divorce courts.
The car on this page, ostensibly the successor to the mighty LaFerrari, not only forsakes V12 power for a V8 but is also a plug-in hybrid. To cap it all, it also has four-wheel-drive.
The car - called the SF90 Stradale - manages to be a resolutely forward-looking machine, even if its name nods to the past.
It recalls how it is 90 years since the Scuderia Ferrari racing team was born, though in 1929 Enzo’s team campaigned Alfa Romeo cars; the first car to bear his name arrived in 1947.
‘Stradale’ is Italian for ‘street’, indicating that the SF90 is a road car as opposed to a track special.
Ferrari describes it as a “true paradigm shift” and promises that it will deliver “unprecedented performance for a production car”.
Figures such as 986bhp “not only put the SF90 Stradale at the top of its segment but also mean a V8 is the top-of-the-range model for the first time in the marque’s history”.
When the manufacturer of some of the most iconic performance cars in history makes a statement like that, it’s probably worth taking note.
The front motors give the SF90 Stradale its four-wheel-drive ability. It does 0-62mph in 2.5 seconds and 0-124mph in 6.7 seconds. Top speed is 211mph
The 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 alone makes 769bhp - the highest power output for an eight-cylinder in the company’s history - as well as 590lb.ft of torque. It revs to 8,000rpm.
Three electric motors serve up an additional 217bhp; one of these is located at the rear, between the engine and the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, with the other two on the front axle.
Ferrari calls the rear motor the MGUK, to emphasise the technology transfer from Formula One and the ‘motor generator unit, kinetic’ it uses.
The front motors give the SF90 its four-wheel-drive ability - “a step necessary to allow the incredible power unleashed by the hybrid drivetrain to be fully exploited”.
Here, that means 0-62mph in 2.5 seconds and 0-124mph in 6.7 seconds… Top speed, for what it’s worth, is 211mph. Maximum range using battery power alone is said to be around 15 miles.
Unspeakably complicated computers help the SF90 Stradale juggle its different power sources and driven wheels, while cutting-edge aerodynamics keep it glued to the road at speed.
It seems almost perverse on a car as outrageously over-endowed as the SF90, but Ferrari will also offer customers a choice between a ‘standard’ car and a “more sports-oriented specification”.
“The Assetto Fiorano specification includes significant upgrades, including special GT racing-derived Multimatic shock absorbers, extra lightweight features made from high-performance materials such as carbon-fibre (door panels, underbody) and titanium (springs, entire exhaust line), resulting in a weight-saving of 30kg,” explains Ferrari.
“Another difference is the high downforce carbon-fibre rear spoiler which generates 390kg of downforce at 155mph.”
Prices have yet to be announced but the SF90 Stradale is rumoured to be a lot cheaper than the LaFerrari, at around £450,000.