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SF90 Stradale: Ferrari plugs into electrification with its first hybrid hypercar

We take a closer look at the Italian supercar manufacturer's first-ever plug-in vehicle, which also happens to be the fastest road car it has ever built

Ferrari is headed in a new electrified direction, that much was clear last week when Louis Camilleri, chief executive of the famed Italian supercar manufacturer, unveiled the marque’s first series production plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the SF90 Stradale.

Aside from being the fastest road car Ferrari has built, with a top speed of 340 kilometres per hour – even surpassing the LaFerrari hypercar of 2013 – it also ­introduces 14 new innovations, five of which are world firsts for cleaner motoring. At the SF90 Stradale announcement, the company didn’t confirm prices but said it would be priced below the Dh4 million LaFerrari and above the 812 Superfast GT when the PHEV hits showrooms next summer. It’s more than likely the price tag will be around the Dh2.5m bracket.

Look through the photo gallery above to see more of the brand-new car.

A new path to electrification

Unlike the LaFerrari, the SF90 Stradale will not be limited by build numbers and will be available for anyone to purchase. More importantly, however, it signals the beginning of what will be an electrification onslaught by Ferrari over the coming years, with the end goal being its first fully electric supercar, to be released after 2022. “This is the first step in a new direction for Ferrari and our first hybrid series production car,” said Camilleri. “It is a direction we are committed to pursuing in the coming years.”

He said that up to 65 per cent of all Ferraris are sold to existing owners and of those more than 40 per cent already own more than one. So the company hopes to attract new customers to the brand with on its PHEV push.

This is the first step in a new direction for Ferrari and our first hybrid series production car

Louis Camilleri, Ferrari chief executive

The Stradale uses a heavily revised version of the F8 Tributo’s 3.9-litre, twin-turbocharged V8, which means that for the first time in Ferrari’s history its flagship model is no longer powered by a heavy V12. The engine is coupled to three electric motors, two located in the front axle, with a third in the transmission to deliver a combined output of 986bhp.

“You can consider this to be a totally new engine with only a few carry-over parts from the 488 and F8 Tributo,” said Ferrari’s chief technology officer, Michael Leiters. “This engine features new injectors, a new interface to the gearbox, new combustion chambers and a lowered centre of gravity with everything sitting lower so it’s a very different unit to the present V8.”

With all-wheel drive and torque vectoring, Ferrari said this would also be the fastest-accelerating road car it has made with a zero to 100kph time of 2.5 seconds and a zero to 200kmh of 6.7 seconds.

The car marks the first step down an electrified path. This comes as part of Ferrari’s five-model roll-out for this year alone, which began with the F8 Tributo in March. Camilleri has previously said Ferrari aims to make 60 per cent of its model range electric hybrids by 2022. “There are some significant challenges on the way so 2019 is a very important year for us,” Camilleri announced. “We decided to significantly increase our production as we enter this new era.”

Reading between the lines, it also means the F8 Tributo could be the end of the line for conventional internal combustion-powered cars from Maranello, no doubt adding to its desirability in the coming years.

The SF90 Stradale

With 217 of its 986bhp coming purely from its electric motors, the SF90 Stradale is capable of being driven silently for up to 25 kilometres on the electric motors at up to 135km/h.

Leiters explains: “When in pure electric mode, it can be driven at peak power for a limited time, but long enough to complete a quick lap of any race track in the world, including the 20.8km Nordschleife at the Nurburgring.”

Ferrari SF90 Stradale hybrid sports car is displayed at the company's base in Maranello, Italy May 29, 2019. Ferrari/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
The Ferrari SF90 Stradale is the fastest road car the Italian manufacturer has ever built. Reuters

Reverse gear is powered by the two electric motors in the front axle, which means the car can be moved at low speeds without needing the petrol engine. It’s a hybrid in more ways than one, as it combines elements of the Ferrari family’s favourite models. It shares much of its hybrid technology with the LaFerrari but under a body that looks closer to the F8 Tributo with similar dimensions and performance that surpasses the V12-powered 812 Superfast.

By offering superior performance for less money, some wondered if the SF90 Stradale is a replacement for either the 812 Superfast or the LaFerrari. Enrico Galliera, the Italian car maker's chief marketing and commercial officer, refuted these claims. “This is not substituting any model in our range, it represents a new sector to our line up which now goes to the top of our performance portfolio.”

What’s in a name and a design?

The name SF90 Stradale was chosen to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One team, emphasising its performance credentials. In keeping with this theme, it adopts some Formula One technology, aside from the petrol-electric architecture, with the addition of a flexible DRS-style rear wing that retracts into the body to reduce drag when needed but also delivers 390kg of downforce at 250km/h when upright.

Ferrari SF90 Stradale hybrid sports car is displayed at the company's base in Maranello, Italy May 29, 2019. Ferrari/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Ferrari SF90 Stradale hybrid sports car is displayed at the company's base in Maranello. Reuters

Externally, the design team has broken with tradition by dropping the signature four round tail lamps in favour of sleek rectangular units while the nose is also unique among the Ferrari models. The SF90 Stradale has moved away from the L-shaped headlights towards a more slender slit design.

The interior of the car has taken on a futuristic appeal with a strong focus on a new 40.6-centimetre high-resolution LCD wrap-around instrument binnacle that is a first for production cars. A new steering wheel takes on more ancillary work with more buttons moving from the dash and centre console onto the wheel allowing the driver to spend more time with their hands on it. The steering wheel will not only drive the car, but operate 80 per cent of its internal functions.

The SF90 Stradale is Ferrari’s answer to tightening emissions regulations, which the company admitted has been forcing the industry down an electrification path. But the new model is also proof that electrification can be achieved without sacrificing performance and emotion. Hybridisation is clearly the key that will allow Ferrari to continue producing exotic supercars with rising performance figures but lowering emission numbers.

Updated: June 6, 2019 12:57 PM

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