When the SF90 Stradale was revealed in 2019 it posed the immediate question, could something so groundbreaking ever be improved upon? Today, Ferrari have their answer with the SF90 XX Stradale

Words: Jason Barlow

One of the great strengths at Ferrari is the unprecedented synergy that exists between Centro Stile and aerodynamics. Combine this hard-won relationship with the fact that at Maranello all development departments are located mere meters from each other, and you start to understand Ferrari’s ability to make the world’s most beautiful cars without any compromise in performance.

Two new Prancing Horses – the new Ferrari SF90 XX Stradale and the Ferrari SF90 XX Spider – prove it can be done. They represent the most extreme versions of the SF90 Stradale, itself a car that pushes performance, vehicle dynamics and aero to the limit. Anyone who’s been fortunate enough to drive one – especially on a circuit – may wonder what more could possibly be extracted. Answer: a lot. More power, more aerodynamic downforce, more driver interactivity, more technology.

The fixed rear wing of the SF90 XX Stradale is the first seen on a road-legal Ferrari since the legendary 1995 Ferrari F50

The SF90 XX Stradale remains a road car, but with all the visual drama and engineering smarts of a circuit-bred racer. As well as channeling F1 and GT racing know-how, it’s also the product of Ferrari’s long-established track-focused customer XX Programme. It’s a symphony of air intakes, ducts, diffusers and perhaps most of all wings.

The rear has a new ‘long tail’ profile and is characterised by its ‘trimaran’ design. Its multi-layered configuration emphasises the car’s width and stance. There are more imposing rear vents behind the wheels, and two central exhausts. The intakes for the turbos’ intercoolers are bigger too, and channel the air even more efficiently.

But the layer that will fuel a million Internet searches is the huge fixed rear wing, the first to be seen on a road-legal Ferrari since 1995’s now iconic F50. Rather than the SF90 Stradale’s twin tail-lights, the SF90 XX Stradale features a light bar. And there’s another ‘blown’ spoiler, similar to the one on the existing car, which works in tandem with an active aero concept called a Gurney shut-off.

The new wing’s shape was influenced by the need to manage the so-called pressure field created by the way the wing interacts with the smaller shut-off wing. There are two configurations: LD (Low Drag) which minimises drag for greater straight-line performance, and HD (High Downforce), which does what it says, generating 315 kg of downforce at 250 km/h, to deliver unparalleled cornering speed and stability.

The SF90 XX Stradale styling cues are designed to highlight its thoroughbred performance characteristics while still retaining the pure lines and forms of its predecessor

The front wing retains an arrow shape, but two new vertical wing profiles give the car an even more geometric look. There are new lower wings that appear to float within the air intakes. The new car’s lower section features an increased use of carbon fibre, emphasising its highly technical character. There’s also a new front splitter, larger than the one on the SF90 Stradale, which generates a highly energetic flow of air under the car. The SF90 XX Stradale’s underbody – crucial to its aerodynamic capability – has also been substantially redesigned. That’s not easy to see for obvious reasons, but more visible are new S-ducts either side of the bonnet vents and louvres on the front wheelarch, which clean up turbulent air and improve the amount of downforce over the front wheels.

This is all highly scientific, but ultimately it’s about delivering harmony and consistency of response for the person behind the wheel. These two principles also apply to the SF90 XX Stradale’s reworked hybrid powertrain. The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 produces 797 cv at 7,900 rpm, but as before it’s emboldened by the addition of three electric motors, two on the front axle, the third positioned between the engine and gearbox at the rear. These add a further 233 cv. The maximum power output is now 1,030 cv, 30 more than on the SF90 Stradale, an increase achieved by optimising the exhaust system and machining the combustion chamber.

The SF90 XX Spider harnesses all the performance of the SF90 XX Stradale but pairs it with the thrill of open-air driving, with the retractable hardtop roof able to deploy in 14 seconds

Ferrari’s mastery of software and the seamlessness of the SF90 Stradale’s regenerative braking and the handover between the electric front axle, eight-speed dual shift gearbox, the rear electric motor and the combustion V8 engine reaches a new peak in the SF90 XX Stradale. The Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer 2.0 and ABS EVO controller both make their debut in the new car, enhancing its stability under high-speed braking and turn-in, while Torque Vectoring and electronic Side Slip Control 1.0 ensure that even with 1,030 cv the SF90 XX Stradale remains approachable and easy to handle on the limit.

A new patented control logic in the ‘Qualifying mode’ on the eManettino, the extra boost, provides an additional power boost worth 0.25 seconds on a lap around Fiorano. The friction braking system has also been upgraded with larger rear brake discs and redesigned pads. Ever alert to the need for sonic entertainment, Ferrari’s engineers have used new materials and reworked the engine to maximise the V8’s harmonics, particularly in the mid-range. And of course, it is here that the SF90 XX Spider comes into its own, with the Retractable Hard Top able to deploy at 45km/h to unleash that V8 orchestra.

The striking SF90 XX Spider features the iconic Ferrari flying buttress and carbon fibre roll bars which connect seamlessly with the roof structure

Interior changes and new materials underline the SF90 XX Stradale and SF90 XX Spider’s hallowed place in Ferrari’s more hardcore supercar bloodline, which sees it follow the likes of the 488 Pista and 812 Competizione. This is a limited series car, with just 799 SF90 XX Stradales and only 599 Spiders available.

The SF90 XX Stradale sits at the nexus of art, engineering and technology. But it’s also more free-spirited than ever.

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