Saturday 27th February 2021
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Featured in the February 2021 issue

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The Prancing Horse’s first production plug-in hybrid convertible sets new performance and innovation benchmarks not only for the marque’s range, but for the entire sports car sector.

The new convertible has the same extreme supercar specification and record-breaking performance as the SF90 Stradale yet also adds further driving pleasure and versatility to the mix, thanks to the latest iteration of Ferrari’s signature retractable hard top (RHT) architecture.

The RHT was again adopted because it guarantees optimal noise insulation and protection from the elements when raised, does not deform at high speeds and provides exceptional occupant space and comfort. The RHT is so compact, simple and light it can be actioned in just 14 seconds and can be deployed when the car is on the move. An adjustable electric rear window guarantees superb occupant comfort even at high speeds when the RHT is lowered.

As is the case with the SF90 Stradale, the SF90 Spider is also available with an additional specification option for owners that want to push its track car vocation to the extreme. The Assetto Fiorano pack includes a list of exclusive upgrades that set it apart from the standard car, not least Multimatic shock absorbers derived from the Ferrari’s GT racing experience and optimised for track use. Others include the adoption of high performance materials (such as carbon-fibre and titanium) that have shaved 21kg off the car’s weight, a carbon-fibre rear spoiler and road-homologated Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres designed to improve track performance in the dry, thanks to a softer compound and fewer grooves. Lastly, the Assetto Fiorano offers an optional two-tone livery that further underscores the car’s racing vocation.

In a first for a Ferrari production spider, the SF90 Spider has plug-in hybrid architecture in which the internal combustion engine is integrated with two electric motors at the front, which comprise the RAC-e (Cornering Angle Regulator, Electric) system, and one at the rear derived from and named after a Prancing Horse Formula 1 innovation, the MGUK (Motor Generator Unit, Kinetic). The synergy between the internal combustion engine and the electric motors allows the car to unleash a maximum of 1,000cv and puts the SF90 Spider not only at the very top of the Ferrari range of road cars, but also its category.

The SF90 Spider’s powertrain architecture features the V8 turbo ICE, an 8-speed DCT with E-diff, the RAC-e electric front axle with two independent electric motors that also provide all-electric propulsion, the MGUK electric motor located at the rear between the engine and the gearbox, the high voltage battery and electric motor control system (inverter).

In addition to a massive 780cv (and 195cv/l specific power output), the V8 also unleashes 60cv more than any other V8 turbo ever built by Ferrari. To deliver this extraordinary result, Ferrari’s engineers completely redesigned the intake and exhaust systems.

The SF90 Spider sports the completely redesigned 8-speed, oil-bath, dual-clutch gearbox launched on the SF90 Stradale. An optimised layout, achieved through the adoption of a dry sump and a significantly more compact clutch assembly with a 20% smaller exterior diameter than the one in the 7-speed gearbox, has shaved 15mm off the installed height in the car. This, in turn, lowers the centre of gravity of the running gear by the same amount.

Despite the addition of an eighth gear and the need to transmit a maximum torque of 900Nm (an increase of more than 20% on the current 7-speed), the gearbox’s overall weight is actually 10kg lower than its predecessor. The clutch’s performance is 35% higher than the 7-speed, transmitting up to 1,200Nm in dynamic torque during gear shifts. Thanks to new-generation actuation hydraulics, clutch fill times are now 30% faster and total gear shift times have been slashed to 200ms, an improvement of 30% on the previous 7-speed DTC.

Meticulous attention was lavished on sound quality when redesigning the exhaust system as the soundtrack is one of the pivotal factors in the exhilarating pleasure of driving a Ferrari. The introduction of a “hot tube system”, which transfers sound more directly to the cockpit, has produced fuller, richer harmonics across the entire frequency range, improving both in-car sound quality and intensity as revs rise compared to previous Ferrari V8s.

The front of the car is dominated by a very pronounced profile which underscores its extremely aggressive character. The three air intakes in this area cool the electric motors (front) and the internal combustion engine (sides). The SF90 Spider also uses matrix LED headlight technology to improve visibility in all driving conditions thanks to active beam control.

The rear of the car is dominated by high exhaust pipes, which are the result of optimisation of the exhaust line layout. Their competition car vibe has been cleverly exploited to underscore the SF90 Spider’s track-inspired personality.

The look and feel of the cabin was driven in large part by the complete redesign of the HMI (Human-Machine Interface), which marked such a major leap forward on the SF90 Stradale. The instrumentation is now predominantly digital with all the screens going completely black when the car is not running, lending the cabin a very minimalist look. However, once the Engine Start button on the steering wheel is pushed, a “ceremony” of sorts begins that sees all the digital components in the driver cockpit gradually springing to life until the whole cockpit is aglow.

The central instrument cluster comprises a single 16” HD screen, which is curved towards the driver to make it easier to read and emphasise the wraparound cockpit effect. The navigation screen is on one side of the rev counter with the audio controls on the other. Thanks to the introduction of the head-up display, the main information can be projected onto the section of windscreen within the driver’s field of vision, in keeping with Ferrari’s “Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel” philosophy.

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