Ferrari SF90 Stradale review: Hybrid power brings supreme performance
Hard on the brakes and shifting down gears for the hairpin that’s the Fiorano test track’s tightest turn, the SF90 Stradale is totally, truly Ferrari. The twin-turbo V8 barks like a big and very bad dog as the brakes bite with brutal force. Then it carves around the tight left-hander and accelerates away like it’s propelled by a series of explosive charges, not petrol and electricity.
Yes, you read that right …
The SF90 Stradale, Ferrari’s new top model, is a hybrid. And not a plain old Prius-like hybrid, but a plug-in hybrid capable of sustained electric-only driving.
Why? Because these days even Ferrari owners want to be socially responsible, it seems.
In electric mode the SF90 Stradale can sneak out early on a Sunday morning without waking the neighbours, or roll through city centres without emitting a wisp of pollution.
In Hybrid mode, the default selection on start-up, the SF90 Stradale runs electrically when possible and automatically fires up the V8 when needed. This mode naturally saves fuel.
But the car’s hybrid technology is also key to its speed and power. Priced from $846,888 plus options and on-road costs (about $1.1 million drive-away), the SF90 Stradale sets a bunch of new highs for a road-legal Ferrari – it’s the quickest ever round Fiorano, the first with 1000 horsepower (or 736kW), with the fastest ever 0-100km/h (2.5 seconds) and 0-200km/h (6.7 seconds) times.
Because Ferrari was determined to boost performance at the same time as earning eco-cred, the SF90 Stradale is a very complicated car.
It has three electric motors. Two in the front drive each of the front wheels. The third motor is sandwiched between the mid-mounted V8 engine and Ferrari’s new eight-speed double-clutch transmission, and so boosts power to the rear wheels.
They all draw electricity from the same lithium-ion battery pack mounted behind the car’s two seats. It’s not a big pack, so recharging takes only two hours using a wallbox or around three hours using a standard power socket. But the small battery size restricts the Ferrari’s electric driving range to around 25km.
In E mode the SF90 Stradale drives only the front wheels. Power is obviously reduced, but the Ferrari has no trouble keeping up with traffic and can reach 135km/h in this mode. The front electric motors also provide power when reverse is engaged.
So the SF90 Stradale in E mode is a near-silent, front-drive electric car. At first this feels just as strange as it sounds. The car’s looks – part race car and part sci-fi spacecraft, according to Ferrari’s design chief – are a visual shout for attention, so it’s odd when it makes little actual noise.
But after a short time behind the wheel the realisation dawns that this adds to the appeal of the SF90 Stradale. It’s a remarkably calm car to drive sedately, quiet and smooth riding for something so sporty. Even when the battery pack is emptied and the Ferrari switches to hybrid mode the calmness is barely disturbed.
Yet the raspy roar of the V8, and maximum performance, is only ever the flick of a switch away. Thumb the powertrain selector on Ferrari’s new steering wheel to Performance or Qualifying mode, and the engine runs full time.
Though the 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 punches out 574kW, a properly supercar kind of number, it’s the electric motors that make the SF90 Stradale a truly exceptional drive. They contribute 162kW to the Ferrari’s max power total, but they deliver where it really counts.media_camera
The front-mounted motors make the SF90 Stradale all-wheel-drive anytime it’s required. So they’re the secret to its crushing standing start acceleration. But there’s more. Because the motors can deliver different amounts of power to each of the front wheels, they can be used to pull the nose of the car into line while cornering. So they’re the key to its record Fiorano lap-time, too.
The rear motor, on the other hand, helps push the SF90 Stradale to its 340km/h maximum speed. The front motors shut down above 210km/h.
Ferrari’s first-ever plug-in hybrid delivers more of everything the brand stands for – power, speed and handling prowess – not less.
The first SF90 Stradale in Australia is due to be delivered early in 2021.
FERRARI SF90 STRADALE VITALS
Price: About $1.1 million drive-away
Warranty/servicing: 3 years, unlimited km / 12 months/20,000km, free for 7 years
Safety: Not rated, 4 airbags, AEB, stability control
Engine: 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo plug-in hybrid with 3 electric motors; 736kW/800Nm
Thirst: Not available
0-100km/h: 2.5 secs
Originally published as Ferrari’s mind-boggling new $1m supercar
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