Monday, 3 June 2019

Meet the 986-hp SF90 Stradale, Ferrari's new AWD plug-in hybrid

Nearly a thousand horsepower from a hybrid, AWD powertrain

This hot little number takes everything Ferrari learned from the LaFerrari and takes it to the next level. With a turbo V8 and three electric motors sending power to all four wheels, the SF90 Stradale is furiously fast and clever – and as a plug-in hybrid, you can drive it 15 whole miles (25 km) with no gas in the tank.
The "huge power" part of the powertrain is based around a 3.99-liter, 90-degree turbo V8, derived from the F154 family engine used in the F8 Tributo, among other cars. This just won the International Engine of the Year award for an unprecedented fourth straight year, so it seems to be a decent unit to start with.

Slightly bored out from previous models, the engine produces 769 horsepower and 800 Nm (590 lb-ft) of torque, making it the most powerful V8 Ferrari has ever rolled out. "Meticulous attention was lavished on sound quality when redesigning the exhaust system," giving "fuller, richer harmonics across the entire frequency range," says the press release, so fear not, petrolheads, we're certain some kind of symphony awaits you, turbo or no turbo dampening the fun.

The SF90 Stradale is Ferrari's first plug-in Hybrid, and its first AWD supercar

The dual-clutch transmission is completely redeveloped, shifting a third faster than the previous unit. And despite it getting an eighth gear on top of the previous seven, it gains efficiency and torque handling capability while being 20 percent smaller and 10 kg (22 lb) lighter. That's partially because there's no reverse gear in the box, reverse is handled by the electric motors.

There are three electric motors, two independent ones on the front wheels and one operating on the rear axle. The front two drive the car on battery alone if you want, but the battery only holds 7.9 kWh, so all-electric range is very limited, at about 15 miles, or 25 km. Their combined power is around 217 horses, and if there's any lag at all on the turbo, they'll be there to smooth it out and provide instant acceleration.

Performance will be suitably monstrous, even if the SF90 Stradale won't beat a Tesla SUV at the traffic lights. Zero to 100 km/h (0-62 mph) will take 2.5 seconds, and where the Teslas start to back off, this thing will really come on song. Standstill to 200 km/h (0-124 mph) will take just 6.7 seconds.

Looks decent, too

A selector on the steering wheel (called the e-Manettino) lets drivers choose how the electric motors and combustion engine work together. The eDrive mode is the all-electric mode mentioned above, and will only take you up to 135 km/h (84 mph) if you wring its neck. Hybrid mode is default. Performance mode keeps the petrol engine running, but focuses on keeping the battery topped up, and Qualify mode throws battery range to the wind, uncorking the full power of the electrics and prioritizing power over battery charging.

As the first Ferrari to get an AWD powertrain, the SF90 gets some fresh attention to driving dynamics in the form of a new eSSC (electronic Side Slip Control) system. The front two motors distribute torque between the front wheels to help keep things in line when you're driving on the edge, and the braking system splits things between regenerative and hydraulic components to save brake pads and charge the battery where possible.

In terms of the chassis, carbon, hollow metal castings and new aluminum alloys have been employed in a multi-material approach to help keep the vehicle weight down to 1,570 kg (3,461 lb) while adding the extra strength necessary to deal with drive from all four corners. Ferrari says this gives the SF90 some 20 percent more bending stiffness and 40 percent more torsional rigidity than the company's other cars, with a corresponding improvement in dynamic handling, noise, vibration and harshness.

Active aerodynamics at the rear add downforce during hard cornering and braking

Aeros have received plenty of attention, with a ground-up focus on downforce leading to a 390 kg (860 lb) figure at 250 km/h (155 mph). Indeed, a lot of the effort here went into directing airflow to the many components that need cooling – from the engine, which generates temperatures up to 900 degrees Celsius (1,652 Fahrenheit), to the electric motors, battery pack, electronics and brakes.

The rear wing, such as it is, is almost unnoticeable on first glance, integrated as it is into the car's rear haunches. But it's there, and it's actually got an active component called the "shut-off gurney" that closes off the airflow underneath the wing and changes the rear downforce under hard cornering, braking and fast changes of direction. It's all automatic, responding to inertial sensors, inputs from the car's ECU and the driver to decide what to do with itself.

Ferrari is calling the SF90 Stradale its most advanced production car ever, and a standard-bearer for hyper-technological extreme sports cars. As such, the dash is entirely digital, a 16-inch full color screen that's slightly curved to look even cooler, and there's a HUD projecting onto the windscreen as well. There are more buttons and controls on the steering wheel than you'll know what to do with, including a touchpad on the right side and access to the voice control system on the left.

16-inch screen for a dash, and a steering wheel you'll need 12 thumbs to operate

As a series production model, the SF90 Stradale won't be the collector's item that the LaFerrari is, despite its superior performance and dynamics. But that means it'll be a lot cheaper, even if it tops the rest of the production range. Price and availability are to be confirmed.

Enjoy more photos in the gallery, or watch this magnificent beast in full sideways flight in the terrific launch video below.

Source: Ferrari/New Atlas.

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