“A racing car that’s road legal” – that’s how Ferrari marketing boss Enrico Galliera describes the new Ferrari SF90 XX Stradale and its open-top sibling, the SF90 XX Spider.
On paper at least, that looks to be no idle boast. These new limited-edition Ferraris, the first of which will arrive in Australia in late 2024, combine powertrain, chassis and aerodynamic technologies honed on the racetrack with the daily driving capability of the regular SF90.
Conceptually, the SF90 XX sits between road cars like the 599 GTO and F12 Tour de France, limited-edition performance variants of mainstream Ferrari models, and track-only cars such as the 599 XX and the FXX-K Evo developed under the company’s innovative XX Programme, which enables customers to drive these extreme cars at Ferrari-organised track days around the world.
The SF90 XX retains the hybrid powertrain of the ‘regular’ SF90; the outputs of its 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 augmented by three electric motors, one mounted between the internal-combustion engine and the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission driving the rear wheels, and one driving each front wheel.
An overall power increase of 22kW might not seem much, but it’s worth remembering the standard SF90 makes a mighty 736kW. “About the only thing we didn’t really push for was extra power,” smiles Ferrari test and development driver Raffaele de Simone.
Codenamed F154FB, the SF90 XX’s internal combustion engine makes 12kW more than the regular car’s V8 courtesy of new pistons, re-machined combustion chambers, an increased compression ratio, polished inlet and exhaust tracts, and improved cooling.
Removal of the secondary air intake system has reduced the engine’s weight by 3.5kg. The three e-motors make a total of 10kW more than those in the regular SF90. The 7.9kWh lithium-ion battery enables the e-motors to propel the SF90 XX smoothly and silently at speeds up to 135km/h, with EV range up to 25km.
Those aren’t the numbers anyone looking at these new Ferraris will care about, however. These are, though: with a total system output of 758kW under your right foot, the SF90 XX will storm from a standstill to 100km/h in just 2.3 seconds, and hit 200km/h in 6.7 seconds on the way to a top speed of 320km/h.
The SF90 XX’s transmission is the same as that used in the SF90 but features the shift logic used in the Daytona SP3 to deliver more dynamic acceleration and sound profiles.
Straight-line performance is just part of the story, however. A new anti-lock brake system dubbed ABS EVO, a Formula 1-style power boost function called Extra Boost, and dramatic new aerodynamic upgrades mean the SF90 XX is significantly quicker around a racetrack than the regular SF90.
How much quicker? Raffaele de Simone won’t elaborate, other than to say Extra Boost alone is worth about a quarter of a second per lap around Ferrari’s legendary Fiorano test track.
Extra Boost is an automated function that uses the e-motors to provide extra power in discrete bursts of up to two seconds each. Extra Boost is only available with the Manettino set to Qualifying Mode and will only initiate when the accelerator pedal is fully depressed, and the car knows it has enough of a charge in the battery and sufficient traction to ensure there’ll be no wasteful wheelspin.
The system will dispense up to 30 2.0-second bursts from a full battery, and drivers can keep track of how many they have used via a display on the dash that shows how many Extra Boost ‘tokens’ they have left.
A qualifying lap of the 2.9km Fiorano circuit will use seven Extra Boost tokens, de Simone says, which means you have about four flat-out laps before the battery is depleted, though the car’s regenerative braking sends energy back into it at every opportunity.
ABS EVO is an evolution of the brake system that debuted on the 296 GTB, a car we love for its confidence-inspiring dynamics and subtle driver support mechanisms.
Thanks to its integration with a new six-axis yaw sensor, ABS EVO allows you to trail-brake deep into corners like a pro, making the most of the prodigious stopping power of the SF90 XX’s massive carbon-ceramic brakes. While Extra Boost means the SF90 XX is quicker out of corners than the regular SF90, ABS EVO makes it quicker into the corners, something that’s much harder for non-expert drivers to achieve.
On top of all that, the SF90 XX delivers the most efficient aerodynamic performance of any road car in Ferrari’s history, rivalled only by the LaFerrari hypercar, says chief product development officer Gianmaria Fulgenzi.
“There is not one single centimetre of the car that has not been optimized for aero.”
The most obvious piece of aerodynamic hardware on the SF90 XX is the large rear wing, which can produce 110kg more rear axle downforce than the standard SF90’s setup. Two bonnet vents form part of an S-duct system that boosts front axle downforce by 20 percent.
Less obvious is the new front splitter, a revised front floor, and the innovative stop-Gurney system, in which the panel between the rear wing stanchions lowers to expose a Gurney flap that boosts rear axle downforce under braking. The panel returns to sit flush with the trailing edge of the rear bodywork to reduce drag at high speeds.
Overall, the SF90 XX develops 530kg of downforce at 250km/h, a 36 per cent increase over the standard car at the same speed.
That, combined with revised steering, increased spring stiffness, and a lower rear ride height, makes the SF90 XX feel very confidence inspiring through fast fifth- and sixth-gear corners, says Raffaele de Simone – “the car is very predictable compared with the SF90″.
Ferrari design chief Flavio Manzoni describes the SF90 XX as “the intersection between performance, innovation, and design”.
That giant fixed rear wing, the first on a road-going Ferrari since the 1995 F50, dominates the visuals. But once you look past it you notice the revised front fascia, the cat-scratch vent slashes over the wheels, and the new light bar across the SF90 XX’s broad tail.
The car rolls on unique 20-inch alloy wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 or Cup 2R tires – 255/35 up front, and 315/30 at the rear.
Inside, lashings of carbon-fibre and pared-back trim on the door panels, centre console and floor make the SF90 XX’s performance intentions clear.
It’s hardly spartan, though, with Alcantara on the dash, and on the new sports seats, which feature an adjustable backrest and are 1.3kg lighter than the SF90’s non-adjustable sports seat.
Though with different graphics, the digital dash has the same multi-function capability as the regular SF90’s, as do the touchpads to the left and right of the steering wheel.
Those who like open-top motoring will be pleased to know the SF90 XX Spider demands few compromises. It weighs just 100kg more than the Stradale coupe but has the same dynamic performance, Ferrari says. The retractable hardtop can be raised or lowered in just 14 seconds at speeds up to 45km/h.
Ferrari plans to build just 799 SF90 XX Stradales and 599 SF90 XX Spiders, and despite expected Australian price tags of about $1.5 million and $1.7 million respectively, all have already been sold.
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