Oh yes, folks! It’s another new Ferrari! We’re not even in June and the Maranello prancing horse has introduced two all-new cars in 2019. Meet the SF90 Stradale, Ferrari’s first ever plug-in hybrid production model with nearly a thousand horsepower.
Using a combination of a twin-turbo V8 and tripartite electric motors, the SF90 Stradale has a total output of 986bhp. Two of the motors are mounted on the front axle with the third mounted on the rear between the engine and gearbox. The V8 is a reworked version of the F154 3.9-litre twin-turbo unit from the 488s with the capacity increased from 3902cc to 3990cc thanks to a larger bore and now produces 769bhp and 800Nm of torque. Ferrari has paired this setup to a redesigned 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox which is smaller and lighter in design, faster in changes and supposedly allows for better mileage too. Acceleration times are quite impressive too with the all-wheel-drive system of the hybrid setup as 0-100kph is done in 2.5 seconds, onto 200kph in 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 341kph.
The three motors are powered by a high-performance 7.9kWh lithium-ion battery. On the motors alone, the SF90 Stradale can still reach 135kph and in ‘eDrive’ mode it’ll do 25 emission free kilometres using the front axle only. It’s also the only mode in which you can use reverse. This EV mode is one of the four driving modes that can be controlled by the touch-controlled eManettino on the steering wheel. The other modes are Hybrid, Performance and Qualify. These powertrain modes are supplemented by the regular manettino for driving modes like Race, Wet, etc.
Hybrid is the SF90 Stradale’s default mode wherein the engine will switch off when possible while also having the full performance accessible to your right foot. In the Performance mode, the V8 stays running, charging the battery and keeping the car lit. Lastly, ‘Qualify’ mode does what it would suggest to any fan of motor racing – giving the full 986bhp of petrol and electric power to the driver with the control system focussed on performance and not battery regen. This is the full track attack mode for any driver brave enough to hurl this road-going hypercar around. Buut, I still think your lap times might get beat by someone in a Mercedes or maybe even a Red Bull guy. *F1 dig, nudge-nudge, wink-wink*.
Focussing back on the SF90 Stradale and we just mentioned the control system or ‘control logic’ which is half the genius behind this car’s performance. This is why Ferrari hires not only some of the best engineers but also top-level techies to work with them. The control logic manages three main relationships:
- the battery, the RAC-e (rotation axis control electronic for next-level torque vectoring), MGUK and inverter
- the engine and gearbox
- the vehicle dynamics system encompassing traction, braking and torque vectoring
Apart from that, there’s still a lot more tech in the new Ferrari SF90 Stradale such as the carmaker’s side slip control algorithm which is now at v7 and takes things up a few notches. It’s the eSSC that oversees torque distribution between the four wheels via electric traction control, torque vectoring and a new brake-by-wire system that balances braking torque between the electric motors and the regular hydraulic braking system while also governing regen-braking. All in all, a very busy, very clever and possibly extensive piece of coding.
Going from the techies to the engineers again, Ferrari really had to work a lot on their V8 and other internal combustion engine (ICE) bits for the SF90 Stradale. They redesigned the intake and exhaust system and made a new, narrower cylinder head with a central injector running 350-bar. Internal fluid dynamics needed improving so the ducts got lined up at engine height with turbo assembly lower and the exhaust higher. The engine as a whole sits lower in the car for a lower centre of gravity and it’s lighter overall thanks to the exhaust manifold being made of Inconel (a kind of nickel-chromium-based superalloy) instead of steel.
Of course, a hypercar isn’t a car until you put all these high-performance bits together into one place. So, Ferrari built a spanking new chassis for this hybrid powertrain, mixing carbon-fibre with high-strength aluminium for better torsional rigidity. The final result – the SF90 Stradale, has a dry weight of 1,570kg while measuring 4710mm in length, 1972mm wide and 1186mm tall. The whole car sits 20mm lower than F8 Tributo.
Ferrari also says they took painstaking measures for the thermal aerodynamics for cooling this powertrain, especially the electricals, by way of layout and design. There are two radiators ahead of the front wheel for the coolant that cools the engine and gearbox and the hot air from these radiators is channelled into the side areas of the underbody. That means the air flow along the car’s flanks into air vents of ahead of the rear wheels is cooler which is better for the intercooler radiators. The SF90 Stradale’s electric motors and inverters are cooled by a separate circuit with its own radiator up front with the central intake on the front bumper. For the brakes, Ferrari and Brembo codeveloped a new brake calliper for the front that features an integrated aerodynamic appendage which efficiently distributes air flow from the vents under the headlights on to the brake pads and disc. This is the first time such a setup has been used on a road car says Ferrari. Meanwhile, the rear brakes are cooled by the air from two intakes on the underbody near the rear wheels.
Onto the surface and design of the new Ferrari SF90 Stradale, starting with the aerodynamic elements first. The rear end is where it’s at with this hypercar where the engine cover is super low and at the there is a suspended wing split into two sections. One is fixed, it incorporates the middle brake light while the other is mobile with wedge-shaped front area. Ferrari calls the wedgey-bit the shut-off Gurney, patent pending. How does it work? Here’s what I can tell from the Ferrari video: the two bits are lined up for urban use and high-speed stretches, but if you need extra downforce through corners or while braking the active aero bit lowers itself (using electric actuators) to cover the gap and lets the fixed wing have its full effect. It’s like a reverse DRS where you close the flap for more downforce instead of opening it for higher top speed. Under the mid-mounted twin exhuasts, there is a very aggressive rear diffuser as well for making the car stick to the ground. Up front, the SF90 Stradale has a system of vortex generators that help control how the air will flow over and around to the back of the car for rear downforce too. Its front bumper is also in two sections with an indent in the between to split the front air dam and a front splitter below. At 250kph, the SF90 Stradale has upto 390kg of downforce.
And now we talk about the design of the all-new Ferrari SF90 Stradale and it’s something that I’m not particularly fond of. While various online comments seem to be quite impressed with it in comparison to the other crop of new hypercars coming out, I find this bold new design a bit hard to love. It’s clearly a cab-forward shape which makes the proportions seem a tad odd at first glance. From the press photos, I had an immediate dislike for the thing but then I saw the videos and I realised it suffers from the same problem as the McLaren Senna did at the time of unveil. It’s much prettier and easier to take in, when seen in the metal and in motion. The new C-shaped headlights, the elements between the black roof and engine cover, the rectangular tail lamps and the overall stance…it’s all a bit disappointing considering it was expected to be a successor to the still gorgeous LaFerrari. However, Ferrari says this new hypercar sits under the LaF even though its quicker and has more power and that the true successor is due in 2022. The SF90 Stradale has elements similar to the J50 and SP38 Deborah too.
Ferrari have been equally thorough with the insides of this new hypercar. It has a new 16-inch HD digital screen with a curved surface with touch-sensitive switchgear on the steering wheel (like the eManettino) and for the air-con too. Its revamped HMI continues to follow the “hands-on-the-wheel’ philosophy of nearly all possible controls on the steering wheel itself including the indicators and wipers. There’s also rotary dial like control to set the cruise control. The central console tunnel also features very modern toggles for some of the controls which are set into a rather retro-looking metal plate from gearboxes of olde. There is also the beautiful use of visible carbon-fibre everywhere though not sure how much of it would be an optional extra.
Speaking of carbon-fibre, Ferrari also showcased the Asseto Fiorano version, basically the track pack of the SF90 Stradale. It has even more carbon-fibre everywhere and is 30kg lighter too with go-faster stripes down the middle and bright accents. No doubt this will be offered with some special liveries as this car, by name, pays tribute to the 90 years of Scuderia Ferrari, the F1 division for Maranello’s stallion. Price? Around half-a-million pounds with options. Not a bad deal for quicker and more powerful than the LaFerrari then. Oh, there will also be a Spider version to follow which just might look better too.
Overall, the Ferrari SF90 Stradale seems almost like a catch-up model, incorporating the kind of technology we already saw on the Porsche 918 and McLaren P1. It doesn’t seem to be in the same league as the Mercedes-AMG One or Aston Martin Valkyrie but maybe that’s for the 2022 hypercar to do.
What do you think of the Ferrari SF90 Stradale? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to the Auto Loons for the latest update on our newest content.