Though sensationally styled and evocatively emotive, the most alluring aspect of Ferrari’s range-topping SF90 Stradale coupe is not necessarily the sum of its parts. One feature, in particular, stands out above the rest: outrageous, seemingly unstoppable thrust. Combining a turbocharged V-8 with three electric motors producing nearly 1,000 hp, and distributing that power through four wheels yields breathtaking acceleration. Summon every speed cliché you can muster and you might still have trouble describing the sensation of being hurdled through space at speeds of up to 211 mph. But during a test drive of the new open-air Spider model in Ferrari’s hometown of Maranello, the second-place feeling behind relentless, full-throttle acceleration was an unexpected one: Peace.
Because the SF90 Spider (just like its closed-roof counterpart) is a plug-in hybrid, it can operate in electric-only mode at speeds up to 84 mph. It won’t go far on battery power alone—only about 16 miles total—and it’s not particularly quick in the EV-only setting. But it does zip along in placid, near silent smoothness. As tempting as it may be to summon the big V-8’s heartswelling thrum, it only seems proper to press the steering wheel-mounted haptic surface to EV in crowded cities, shushing the gas engine and letting the electric motor do the motoring.
Subduing the internal combustion beast creates a microclimate of quiet. On a breezy summer morning, I unfolded the roof while cruising at a calm 20 mph, activating infinite headroom while coasting past pedestrians and fellow motorists. “Mamma mia!” one nonna exclaimed; “Che bella!” another remarked. The exclamations were likelier directed towards the SF90’s striking form than its discreet powertrain; after all, my borrowed steed and I were the center of attention for the most typical reasons, though onlookers might have been surprised to learn that the visual screamer was producing nearly zero sound.
The stealth mode is gratifying, particularly when the top is down and the rustle of leaves whispers overhead. As the city recedes in the background and I progress through the increasingly extroverted modes—Hybrid, Performance, Qualify—the SF90’s real raison d’être once again emerges. Despite the necromancy of complex technology beneath the skin, the SF90 feels organic and natural to handle with intuitive controls, sharp handling and a powertrain whose gasoline-powered exuberance is torque-filled with harmonious electric power at lower rpms. Particularly when the rear window is open and the engine’s valvetrain and exhaust note fill the cabin, this Ferrari feels like a livelier, more engaging version of its coupe self.
The SF90 Spider presents a bit of a surprise to those who have been stubbornly aligned to the closed coupe supercar format, and a delight to anyone who can appreciate the sensory overload of so many forces conspiring to deliver absolute speed. Sure, this is a land rocket with an incredible way of dancing through corners and shrinking straightaways. But most refreshingly, Ferrari’s flagship is also adaptable enough to waft in silence one moment, and go like hell the next. All supercars should be so versatile.
Click here to see all the photos of the Ferrari SF90 Spider Assetto Fiorano.