This is the future of Ferrari: Meet the SF90 Stradale, the automaker’s first mainstream production plug-in hybrid hypercar. It packs 986 horsepower from a twin-turbo V-8 augmented by three electric motors, and it establishes itself as Ferrari’s new pinnacle.
This marks the first time a V-8 car has occupied the top of the Ferrari lineup. The SF90’s drivetrain centers around a modified version of the company’s twin-turbo V-8. Bored out to 4 liters of displacement and blessed with improved intake and exhaust routing, the engine makes 769 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque on its own.
An additional 217 hp comes from three electric motors—one powering each front wheel, and one stacked between the engine and gearbox. Powered by a 7.9 kWh lithium-ion battery mounted just behind the passenger compartment and spanning the width of the chassis, the car can cover up to 15.5 miles in electric-only mode, and can reach a maximum speed of 84 mph on battery power. A humorous point: Technically, when operating in EV-only mode, this is the world’s first front-wheel drive Ferrari.
But the hybrid system isn’t just there to save fuel. This is the first mid-engine Ferrari supercar with all-wheel drive, and the SF90 Stradale uses all that traction for major acceleration. Ferrari promises the car will do 0-62mph in 2.5 seconds and 0-124mph in 6.7 seconds, quicker than the V-12 hybrid LaFerrari. The electric motors powering each front wheel also enable real-time front-axle torque vectoring for improved handling on track.
The SF90 Stradale features an all-new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. The dry-sump gearbox allows the drivetrain to sit 15 mm lower than the previous seven-speed dual-clutch, lowering the car’s center of gravity. The additional gear makes up, in part, for the relatively low redline of the updated V-8 engine—8000 RPM, compared to the LaFerrari’s 9250-rpm V-12. Notably, the transmission does not have a reverse gear—the car backs up using the front-wheel electric motors, a strategy also used in the Acura NSX.
In person, the engine appears to sit impossibly low in the chassis. Peering through the glass engine cover, there’s about two feet of open-air space above the engine itself. You could slide a carry-on suitcase in the space, if you weren’t afraid of it catching fire.
The SF90 Stradale’s interior embraces minimalism. There are no physical buttons anywhere on the dashboard—pretty much everything is capacitive touch. Nearly every driving-related control is located on the steering wheel, while climate controls reside on a capacitive-touch pod to the right of the steering wheel. Gear selection is done by three push-pull toggles on the transmission hump, designed to be reminiscent of a gated manual shifter, while steering wheel paddles handle up- and downshift duties.
The instrument panel is entirely digital, made up of a giant 16-inch curved display screen that encompasses gauge readouts and navigation display. This is also the first Ferrari road car with head-up display.
As with all modern hypercars, the SF90 Stradale has active aero features. Instead of a rear spoiler that rises above a certain speed, the new Ferrari’s rear aero activates by lowering a wedge-shaped panel directly ahead of the rear edge of the bodywork, revealing a large Gurney flap-style spoiler. This fast-acting aero system allows the car to go into low-drag mode on straightaways and increase downforce under braking or cornering. The system can generate up to 860 lbs of downforce at 155 mph.
An even higher-performance version, the SF90 Stradale Assetto Fiorano, will be available as well. Shown here in silver, the Assetto Fiorano features upgraded shock absorbers, lightweight titanium springs and exhaust, carbon-fiber wheels and other weight-savings measures for a total of 66 lbs of weight savings. Thus equipped, the SF90 weighs in at 3461 lbs dry—certainly not light, but a few pounds less weighty than the LaFerrari. The Assetto Fiorano also offers greater downforce and more grip thanks to Michelin Pilot Sport Cup2 tires (an upgrade from the standard-equipment Pirelli P Zeros).
This is the first Ferrari to use brake-by-wire technology, allowing braking duties to be split between the traditional hydraulic system and the regenerative capability of the electric motors. The hybrid Acura NSX uses a similar system, as does the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio. Our experience with the Alfa system has been less than ideal, so we’re curious to see how brake-by-wire works in Ferrari’s application.
The SF90 Stradale is named to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Scuderia Ferrari racing team. As such, it’s meant to embody the flow of technology from Ferrari’s racing operation to its road cars. In person, the SF90’s voluptuous bodywork evokes Ferrari prototype racers of the 1960s and ’70s, while the hybrid technology nods to modern Formula 1. In total, the SF90 Stradale is a stunning new direction for Ferrari, one that’s sure to influence many of the next-generation models the automaker promises will debut soon. As for price? Ferrari representatives would only say that the SF90 Stradale will be more expensive than the current F12 Tributo, but less than the LaFerrari. Deliveries begin in the first quarter of 2020.
By: Bob Sorokanish, May 29, 2019