What is it?
A very good Ferrari. And a very expensive Ferrari. At £172,500, the new 430 Scuderia (don’t call it an F430 Scuderia within the walls of Maranello or you’ll be beaten) is a pared-back version of the company’s best selling car. It is also nearly £50k more than a base F430.
What’s it like?
Sensational. Ferrari at its best, and the only road car I’ve ever driven whose electronic chassis aids behave as if they were pulled from a contemporary racing car.
Any initial cynicism over the price very quickly disappears once you have a steer. Power is up 20bhp to 503bhp and torque rises just 4lb ft to 346lb ft. But torque delivery is much more robust, partly through some clever ignition work, and also a kerbweight that is 100kg less than a stock F430. Dry, Ferrari claims that this car weighs 1250kg; on the road, with fluids, it’s just 1350kg.
The Scuderia has been optimised for road and track. Hence its Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tyres have the same aquaplaning performance as the standard rubber. There is so much to enjoy in the Scuderia. Finally, this is the F1 transmission we’ve been waiting for since the first 355 back in ’96. Slow shifts are blurred without a jolt and the fast shifts are now delivered in just 60 milliseconds. That’s as fast as the computer can disengage and re-engage the clutch; as fast as Schuey’s 2004 F1 car, and as fast as any DSG ‘box. Stringing that V8 out to 8500rpm and then feeling a controlled jolt through the rear bulkhead as another gear engages, the Scuderia seems uncontrollably exciting.
It’s fast too; faster around Fiorano than an Enzo, and 2.0sec faster than an F430. That’s partly because the circuit suits the Scuderia better than the V12 monster, but is still indicative of its fine track performance. There’s a little more understeer than we might have hoped (deliberate, to save owners from shunting) but it changes direction, stops, grips and accelerates as well as anyone could wish for.
Especially given the on-road performance. Seems the Italians have taken a peek at the Porsche 997 GT3 development manual and somehow managed to make the supposedly hardcore version a more pleasant road car than the basic car. The key here is, finally, that the gearbox shifts quickly enough, and that there’s a damper override that you can use to keep them in ‘soft’ mode. In the F430, you cannot do the latter.
Ride comfort is outstanding given the track potential, the motor is more flexible and the transmission smoother. Ferrari claims that the car will hit 62mph in under 3.6sec (seems a touch optimistic, but then that gearshift is just so fast) and tops-out at 198mph.
Perhaps the most interesting aspects of the car though are those electronics. Ferrari has taken the E-diff from the F430 and the 599 GTB’s F1-trac traction control system and combined them into the ultimate driver improvement aid.
Leave the car in Race mode and the rear differential and traction control juggle the torque to perfection. Intervention is subtle enough to allow a driver to simply nail the throttle and wait for the car to decipher the perfect exit strategy from any turn. Furthermore, the diff can also trim entry lines. No other car on sale can come close to this level of driveline sophistication; at last we’re seeing some real crossover from the F1 programme.
Should I buy one?
I would have one over a 599, and I normally prefer front-engined Ferrari berlinettas. It’s so well conceived, its performance is more useable and the noise –well, you’ll have to watch the video to hear that.
Even if they don’t win the F1 driver’s championship this year, 2007 will be remembered as a vintage year for the company because of this car.