Beauty comes in many forms. The SF90 XX, for example, is the first street-legal Ferrari with a fixed rear wing since the F40 and F50 of the 1980s and '90s. Yet where those two Pininfarina-styled icons embrace the atmosphere with elegance, the SF90 XX exudes a menace born out of its singular mission: to be the most extreme roadgoing Ferrari ever.
At its core, this all-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid with a combined 1016 horsepower blurs the line between Ferrari's top-level supercars and its heretofore racetrack-only specials wearing the XX designation. Only 799 of the $890,000 Stradale coupes and 599 of the $995,000 Spider convertibles will be made. The standard 986-hp SF90 already combines brazen charisma with ballistic 2.0-second launches to 60 mph—the quickest time we've ever recorded—making it a choice starting point. The new car should be even quicker.
Key to the SF90 XX's gains is its massive 1168 pounds of downforce at 155 mph, up from the SF90's 860 pounds. A deeper front splitter feeds air to a modified radiator setup that not only eliminates the car's cargo compartment but also is inverted both to allow more airflow through the redesigned hood and to create a flatter underfloor that helps suck the car's nose to the ground. Fender vents reduce air pressure in the wheel wells, while a larger diffuser helps extract air from the XX's elongated tail section. An active rear spoiler remains, but it's been reconfigured to work in conjunction with the fixed rear wing, cutting drag and increasing downforce. Although the upgrades drop the SF90's quoted top speed from 211 mph to 199, high-speed stability is greatly enhanced.
Uncork the SF90 XX and its carbon-fiber-lined cabin fills with the feral howl of a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 spinning to 8300 rpm. Optimized sound tubes pump more of the combustion symphony into the passenger compartment, while the engine itself gains 17 horses (now 786 in total) by way of new pistons and polished intake and exhaust tracts. Updated programming, borrowed from the Daytona SP3, brings crisper ratio swaps to the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic plus louder barks and pops as you toggle the shift paddles on the steering column.
The new car retains the regular SF90's PHEV configuration, sporting a compact battery with an estimated 6.5 kWh of usable capacity and a trio of electric motors—one between the V-8 and the gearbox and another at each front wheel for torque vectoring across the front axle. Total electrical output remains 217 horsepower in most situations, but new "extra boost" software releases an additional 13 stallions in brief spurts when the PHEV's raciest Qualifying mode is engaged. Tamer hybrid settings alter the flow of power to varying degrees, while an electric-only mode can propel the car for a few miles at speeds up to 84 mph.
Compared with a regular SF90 that has the lightweight Assetto Fiorano package, the XX model cuts about 20 pounds of fat from its curb weight (now an estimated 3800 pounds) via features such as the redesigned hood and new carbon-fiber seats, which combine the torso-hugging support of a one-piece racing shell with the comfort of an adjustable backrest. As a road car, the SF90 XX also retains power windows and air conditioning.
Power and Poise
We sampled the coupe version of the SF90 XX around Ferrari's Fiorano test track. Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires (255/35ZR-20s front, 315/30ZR-20s rear) work hard as the car slingshots out of tight turns on the torque of its electric motors, its thrust building relentlessly as the V-8 comes into play and the scenery turns to a blur. Trust in Ferrari's engineering is needed as aerodynamic forces mount, but communication through the steering wheel is clear and direct. Impressively mild tempered given its potential, the SF90 XX is prone to stable understeer when pushed too hard, while midcorner pokes of the throttle nudge its tail out in manageable slides.
Stand on the firm, short-stroke pedal controlling the upgraded brake system with 15.7-inch front and 15.4-inch rear (1.2 inches larger than the Stradale's) carbon-ceramic rotors, and the car seemingly augers into the pavement, its new ABS controller (shared with the 296GTB) modulating the stopping force to help the car rotate with rabid turn-in response. Despite spring rates that have been upped by close to 70 percent, the SF90 XX still leans slightly around apexes, and its ride on the standard Multimatic DSSV spool-valve dampers felt rather compliant on Fiorano's smooth surfaces (sadly, we weren't allowed outside the Ferrari factory's gates). Optional adaptive dampers include a nose-lift function.
Revised stability controls bring additional security and dramatically alter the XX's temperament as you click through the manettino drive-mode dial on the steering wheel. Sport mode will make novices feel like heroes, while Race gives the driver greater control yet still regularly steps in to manage wheelspin. The brave can disengage all the systems, but the quickest setup is CT/Off, with its exploitable safety net that lets the car move around naturally and only subtly reins things in at the limit.
Arguably, the highlight for the fortunate few who've already snapped up the SF90 XX's allotments will be its usability. The previous XX models are usually stored in Maranello and rolled out only for select track days under the guidance of engineers. SF90 XX owners, on the other hand, will be able to unleash their thoroughbreds at will. Whether that's on a racetrack or an empty canyon road, the freedom to choose will be its own kind of beautiful.
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