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First Drive: The Ferrari SF90 XX Is a 1,016 HP Monitor Screamer That Simply Occurs to Be Road-Authorized

First Drive: The Ferrari SF90 XX Is a 1,016 HP Monitor Screamer That Simply Occurs to Be Road-Authorized

Ever since 2013, when the Ferrari LaFerrari, the McLaren P1, and the Porsche 918 Spyder became literal  poster cars for plug-in-hybrid power trains, the setup has been the de facto choice of high-performance automakers looking to squeeze as much juice as possible from the unlikely combination of silly speed and serious efficiency. 

Maranello’s latest twists on this are the Ferrari SF90 XX Stradale and Spider, limited-production offshoots of the SF90 (which debuted in 2019) that tip a hat to the marque’s ultra-exclusive XX race program for clients, yielding track-only screamers like the 599XX EVO and FXX-K EVO. Now, for the first time, the XX nomenclature is on street-legal releases. 

Compared to the original SF90, the new variants eke out another 30 hp from the hybrid architecture, bringing total output for each to 1,016 hp from the four-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 and three electric motors, which are fed by a 7.9 kWh battery. The result is acceleration from zero to 60 mph in just over 2.0 seconds and a top speed of 199 mph. The incremental power gain is augmented by a louder, more insistent exhaust note, more aggressive transmission programming, and additional cooling via the reconfigured front-mounted radiators jettisoning air through two hood-mounted vents. 

The real story, though, centers on aerodynamics and the staggering 1,168 pounds of downforce at 155 mph, largely due to the fixed rear wing—the first to appear on a production Ferrari since the mid-1990s-era F50. An automatically tilting flap on the rear decklid discreetly diverts airflow toward the wing when extra stability is needed, enabling double the downforce of the standard model. Ironically, my seat time in this maximal street performer is spent entirely at Ferrari’s private test track in Fiorano rather than on public roads. 

Ferrari SF90 XX rear view

Courtesy of Ferrari

Precipitation makes any chance of even approaching performance limits out of the question, despite the vehicle’s impressively engineered Bridgestone rain tires, but the way the car’s sophisticated electronics manage obscene amounts of power ultimately makes the driver look like the hero. Relying on its drivetrain-management system negotiating output to all four corners, and the six-axis ABS system selectively braking individual wheels for stability, the SF90 XX dispatches Fiorano’s 14 saturated corners with smooth power delivery that only gives way to gentle slides in more permissive drive modes. 

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As for the bodywork, the triple vents on the front and rear fenders, the elongated tail, and the single LED light strip all work to make something brutally quick look strangely elegant. Once inside the cockpit, traditionalists will still cringe at the haptic Engine Start button at the bottom of the steering wheel. But when activated in a non-EV setting, the twin-turbo V-8 delivers a boosted thrum that answers naysayers with an exhaust song that is reassuringly (almost obnoxiously) analog. 

Core Ferraristi will criticize the SF90 XX for not just straying from its track-only mission but also veering away from 12 cylinders as part of its hybridization. Fair enough. But with every one of the model’s 799 coupes and 599 spiders—priced at $885,000 and $990,000, respectively—already spoken for, Ferrari can afford to plug in and tune out. 

Source: Robb Report

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