The 2021 Ferrari SF90 Spider is the quickest, most powerful open-top Ferrari this side of the scarlet SF1000 F1 cars Scuderia Ferrari aces Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel get strapped into on a grand prix race weekend. The numbers: 986 horsepower; zero-to-60 mph in about 2.5 seconds; and 124 mph comes up in less than 7.0 seconds en route to a top speed of 211 mph. Oh, and like those F1 Ferraris, it’s a hybrid.
The SF90 Spider is, of course, the convertible version of the SF90 Stradale coupé unveiled earlier this year. It thus shares most of the SF90 Stradale’s hardware and software, including the plug-in hybrid powertrain that not only delivers those epic performance numbers, but also helps make the near-1,000-hp coupe one of the most approachable and confidence-inspiring mid-engine Ferraris you’ll ever drive.
The powertrain comprises a mid-mounted twin-turbo V-8 engine that develops 769 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque, three electric motors, and a mid-mounted single module 7.9-kWh high-voltage battery. One electric motor is mounted between the engine and the eight-speed dual-clutch transaxle and develops 157 hp and 196 lb-ft of torque. The two other e-motors, each developing 97 hp and 62 lb-ft of torque, are mounted at the front axle, each driving a wheel.
The 7.9-kWh battery weighs just 158 pounds and enables the SF90 to travel up to 15 miles on pure electric power, using the front motors, at speeds of up to 83 mph. The front e-motors also deploy to provide front-axle torque vectoring, improving agility and stability, and allowing drivers to go to power earlier on corner exit than they would if they had to rely solely on rear-axle traction.
Ferrari always intended to build a convertible version of the SF90 and so engineered the car to ameliorate the inevitable consequences of removing a fixed roof—less structural rigidity and increased weight—from the outset. The underlying structure of both the SF90 Stradale and SF90 Spider is therefore identical, the coupé’s chassis as a result being a little heavier and more robust than it strictly needed to be to ensure the convertible’s structure was as rigid as possible, Ferrari chief technical officer Michael Leiters says. The Spider gets different, stronger doors to meet side impact requirements, though.
Leiters says the SF90 Spider weighs about 220 pounds more than the Stradale. The retractable hard top—which can be raised or lowered in just 14 seconds—is made from aluminum, saving 88 pounds over a steel hard top. Constant evolution of the roof system, which made its debut on the Ferrari 458 Spider in 2011, means it only needs 3.5 cubic feet of stowage space, compared with the 5.0-7.0 cubes other systems require.
With the roof in place the SF90 Spider’s aerodynamic efficiency and downforce numbers are virtually identical to those of the coupé, Leiters says. Because the storage compartment for the retractable hardtop effectively sits over the engine bay, hot air is vented through transverse louvers in the SF90 Spider’s rear screen. The internal combustion engine and dual-clutch transmission are cooled via radiators in front of the front wheels, and the hot air from those is channeled to the side areas of the underbody. This means the air flowing along the sides of the car and into the intercooler vents in front of the rear wheels is kept as cool as possible.
Like the Stradale, the Spider has Ferrari’s innovative active rear wing system. In normal low drag mode, air exits through a vent between the taillights. In high downforce mode, the central element of the wing drops down and stops that flow, effectively creating a giant Gurney flap. The patented system is said to develop 860 pounds of downforce at 155 mph. That rear downforce is balanced at the front axle by a system of diffusers ahead of the front wheels and floor-mounted vortex generators. Having had more time in the wind tunnel to tweak and tune the Spider’s aerodynamics, engineers claim its underbody now generates the most downforce of any roadgoing Ferrari.
Ferrari expects the Spider to account for about 50 percent of total SF90 sales, and Michael Leiter says it will attract a different buyer than the Stradale. “The customer who is more oriented on performance will take the coupé,” he said, “because with less weight and more stiffness, it’s a little bit better. But for those who like to be a bit more focused on driving emotion, the Spider is a better solution.”
To amp up the SF90 Spider’s emotional quotient, Ferrari engineers have spent a lot of time enhancing the noise of the internal combustion engine, especially when the roof is down, via a resonator tube system with a heat-proof membrane that amplifies the sound of the exhaust immediately downstream of the turbocharger, before it is muffled by the catalytic converter and gasoline particulate filter, and directs it into the cabin. To spend time and money on this sort of detail shows how much Ferrari has changed: In the old days it would have just worried about building a fast car.
“Ferrari is about driving emotion,” Leiter said, “and for me that emotion comes from three main areas: perceived acceleration, responsiveness, and sound.” A feeling of strong acceleration and a heightened sense of responsiveness through the controls is supercar engineering 101, but Leiter says Ferrari engineers also have data that shows a very strong correlation between the way their cars sound and the emotional response they elicit from drivers. “It’s a crucial, core element of Ferrari, and a reason we invest a lot in this resonator technology.”
The first SF90 Spiders are set to arrive in the U.S. in the fall of next year, and although pricing has yet to be confirmed, it’s fair to say that if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. The SF90 Stradale stickers for $625,000. Given the premium Ferrari traditionally charges for convertibles, don’t expect much change from $85,000.
As with the Stradale, the Spider will be available with the optional Assetto Fiorano pack, which adds race-proven Multimatic shocks optimized for track use, a swathe of carbon-fiber and titanium parts that help trim 46 pounds from the overall weight, special soft compound Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires designed to improve track performance in the dry, and the availability of a special two-tone paint scheme.
|2021 Ferrari SF90 Spider|
|PRICE||$685,000 (MT est)|
|LAYOUT||Mid-engine, AWD, 2-passenger, 2-door convertible|
|ENGINE||4.0L/769-hp/590-lb-ft DOHC 32-valve twin-turbo V-8 plus two 97-hp/62-lb-ft front motors and a 157-hp/196-lb-ft rear motor; 986 hp comb|
|TRANSMISSION||8-speed twin-clutch auto|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,700 lb (mfr)|
|L x W x H||185.2 x 77.7 x 48.3 in|
|0-62 MPH||2.5 sec (mfr est)|
|EPA FUEL ECON, CITY/HWY/COMB||Not yet rated|
|ON SALE||Fall 2021|
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