If you’ve worried that the slow death of the internal combustion engine will put an end to palpitations behind the wheel, hang on to that defibrillator. Our hearts go out to those with a few hundred thousand dollars to spend on the SF90 Stradale. On Wednesday, Ferrari unveiled the plug-in hybrid electric that, thanks to a battery, is the most powerful production vehicle ever to roll out of Maranello .
Alex Davies covers autonomous vehicles and other transportation machines for WIRED.
The two-seat, midengine supercar combines a V-8 engine with three electric motors drawing power from a 7.9-kWh battery to generate 986 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque. That’s enough to send Ferrari’s first four-wheel drive car from a standstill to 62 mph in 2.5 seconds, and double that in 6.7 seconds. The automaker hasn’t finalized fuel economy numbers yet, but considering the 211 mph top speed, don’t expect Chevy Volt-like numbers.
Ferrari has played with electric before, most notably in the LaFerrari , the limited edition “hypercar” that debuted in 2013, starting around $1 million. Porsche and McLaren have done the same , and Lamborghini and Bugatti are working on their own hybrids. The arrival of batteries in the slightly more mainstream SF90 (no price yet, but it will cost less than the LaFerrari) is the latest, logical step in that evolution. The evolution is shaping up not to be too painful, because going electric offers all sorts of performance benefits.
Even without the help of the V-8, the three motors (two on the front axle, one on the rear) can take the 3,460-pound car up to 88 mph, though with a range of just 16 miles. They create more than 200 horsepower, more than you get in a BMW 320i. The motors can vary the power to the front wheels, a boon for control in the corners. And because those motors can drive the car backward, Ferrari could drop seven pounds by ditching the reverse gear in the 8-speed transmission.
Beyond the battery power, Ferrari’s engineers pulled all sorts of tricks to juice the SF90’s performance (and justify a base price that will likely make it pricier than the average American house). The redesigned intake and exhaust systems and more compact clutch assembly lower the car’s center of gravity, a boon for performance. New brake calipers for the front wheels will help guide air to the brake pads and discs for cooling purposes. Ferrari’s engineers increased the capacity of the engine to 3,990 cc from 3,902, with slightly bigger pistons.
For an interior that Ferrari’s designers say will serve as a model for all its cars going forward, the Italians moved more controls onto the steering wheel. That way, the driver can work the windshield wipers, headlights, and flick between all-electric and performance modes without moving their hands. The instrument cluster is now a 16-inch, curved screen, meant to evoke the feeling of sitting in the cockpit of a Formula 1 car.
For those willing to drain their kids’ trust funds, there is the “Assetto Fiorano” edition. This version of the SF90 Stradale gets a carbon fiber underbody and doors, along with titanium springs and exhaust, dropping another 66 pounds. Combined with a carbon fiber rear wing that provides extra downforce, Michelin tires with a softer compound and fewer grooves promise to keep the car glued onto the track. Just hope your local raceway has a charging station.
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