The Prancing Horse Plugs In
Even Ferrari has to move with the times as they introduced their first ever production car with PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) architecture. The new SF90 Stradale has an internal combustion engine integrated with three electric motors, two of which are independent and located on the front axle, with the third at the rear between the engine and the gearbox. By default, you get 4-wheel drive!
Hidden in plain sight is the true significance of this so-called ‘series-production’ supercar that carries the name SF90 Stradale. It is the 90th anniversary of Scuderia Ferrari racing team. ‘Stradale’ is the masculine form of the Italian word for ‘Road’, in effect, this is the Formula 1 Road car.
Current woes aside, the Scuderia Ferrari is one of the winning-est teams racing in Formula 1 today. In fact, it is the oldest team racing continuously since the inauguration of that championship in 1950.
All that they learnt on the race track is encapsulated in this series-production supercar with the most advanced technologies developed in Maranello. The SF90 Stradale shows how Ferrari transposes the experience from competition to its road cars.
4.0L Twin Turbocharged V8 petrol internal combustion engine produces 780 cv (769 hp) maximum power @ 7500 rpm. The electric motors generate 220 cv (217 hp) from 162 kW power. Spookily, that makes a nice round DIN number of 1,000 cv combined total power.
In old units, at 100 cv = 98.6 hp, we get 986 hp, which is 37 hp more than the mighty LaFerrari. All this translates into 0-100 km/h in 2.5 sec and Vmax 340 km/h (211 mph).
Luckily, the Stopping Distance is only 29.5 metres (97 ft) from 100-0 km/h (62-0 mph), helped by the aerodynamic drag and kinetic energy recovery system (KERS).
Like the race cars, the SF90 Stradale has a new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission that is 10 kg lighter and more compact than the older Ferrari 7-speed transmission, partly because it has no reverse gear! Reversing is engaged by the electric motors on the front axle. The new transmission has a 30% faster shift time (200 milliseconds).
Furthermore, you get to choose one of four drive modes with the “magic” eManettino knob on the steering wheel like Sebestian Vettel. The eDrive mode uses only the electric motors. The default Hybrid mode uses both the internal combustion engine and the electric motors but the control logic computer turns off the engine to save fuel whenever it can. The Performance mode keeps the engine running to charge the batteries and ready to respond quickly for maximum performance. The Qualify mode uses everything in the powertrain to its full potential.
Smart Cooling Flow Management
Like a Formula 1 car, the SF90 Stradale’s internal combustion engine, gearbox, turbo-charged air intake, battery pack, electric motors, inverters, charging systems and brakes all need cooling. This was achieved by smart design of the engine bay to house both the internal combustion engine systems at nearly 900°C and very temperature-sensitive electronic components.
Rear downforce is balanced at the front of the car by a complex and optimised system of vortex generators. On the SF90 Stradale, the front section of the chassis has been raised 15 mm higher than the central section just where the vortex generators are located, thus increasing the amount of air channeled and boosting their effect.
The front bumper is divided into two sections with specific wing functions. Between the upper section and the bonnet is a pronounced indent that compresses local airflow and working with the two diffusers ahead of the front wheels, they generate downforce over the front axle.
The engine cover was kept very low to improve the airflows over and under the body to minimise drag.
The end section of the engine cover features a suspended wing divided in two sections: the fixed one, which incorporates the third brake light, and the mobile one with a wedge-shaped front area. They patented the latter system called the “shut-off Gurney”, which regulates the air flow over the upper body, reducing drag at high speeds with low lateral dynamics loads and increasing downforce in corners, under braking and during changes of direction.
Even the geometry of the forged wheels have applied aerodynamic research with radial elements on the outer channels equally spaced between the spokes to act as wing profiles. The wheel works like a rotor blade for two main effects: air evacuation from wheel arch is boosted and the flow exiting the wheel rim is lined up with the longitudinal flow running along the sides.
For the first time, Ferrari allows clients to choose between the standard car and the more sports-oriented specification.
Prices have not yet been announced but we estimate $510,000 for the base model, still the fastest production Ferrari road car.
Better still, you can choose not to have Ferrari Red.
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web magazine. He was former CEO of PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).