New Car News

986-hp Ferrari SF90 Spider debuts as the company’s most powerful turbo V8 to date

The SF90 Spider is one of the most powerful production turbo V8 Ferrari has ever made.

Photo courtesy of Ferrari

Most spiders aren't known for their quickness. This spider is. The just-revealed Ferrari SF90 Spider may be the company's first plug-in hybrid electric convertible, but it hasn't lost any steps when compared to its older fraternal twin, the SF90 Stradale.

Ferrari has chosen a retractable hardtop for its noise insulation properties. It also delivers protection from the elements and doesn't deform at high speed. The hardtop takes up significantly more space than a ragtop roof, with just 100 liters of space occupied compared to 150-200 liters. The roof can be opened in just 14 seconds and can be deployed while the vehicle is in motion. When the roof is deployed, the sides, front, and tail of the SF90 Spider have the same styling as the SF90 Stradale.

2021 Ferrari SF90 Spider With its roof deployed, the Ferrari SF90 Spider has the same lines as the SF90 Stradale.Photo courtesy of Ferrari

Buyers can get their SF90 Spider with the track driving-centric Assetto Fiorano pack, which features Mulitmatic shock absorbers that were derived from Ferrari's GT racing exerpience, a carbon fiber rear spoiler, and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. By checking the box, buyers also get an optional two-tone livery that delivers race-ready looks.

Powering the SF90 Spider is a turbocharged V8 engine that is paired with three electric motors (two up front, one at the rear). That gives it 986 horsepower combined, more than any other Ferrari turbo V8 ever built. Ferrari has paired the engine with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Ferraris are known for having a throaty gurgle out the backside and despite its electrified powertrain, the SF90 Spider is no exception. A hot tube system transfers exhaust system sound directly into the cockpit producing a rich rumble.

The car features regenerative braking. Under normal braking conditions, energy is recovered using electric motors. The hydraulic braking system supports the electric system under deceleration conditions. At high speed, the combined contribution of the electric motors lowers the engine's response time, improving performance

2021 Ferrari SF90 Spider

Photo courtesy of Ferrari

There are two steering wheel-mounted selectors on the SF90 Spider - the traditional Manettino and eManettino. The eManettino offers four modes (descriptions by Ferrari):

  • eDrive - The internal combustion engine remains off and traction is entrusted entirely to the electric front axle. Starting with a fully charged battery (with a capacity of 9 kWh), the car can cover up to 25 km in this mode which is ideal for city-centre driving or any other situation in which the driver wishes to eliminate the sound of the Ferrari V8. The 135 km/h speed limit means the car can also be used on out-of-town roads;
  • Hybrid - This setting optimizes the system's overall efficiency. The control logic autonomously decides whether to keep the internal combustion engine running or turn it off. Power flow from the electric motors is limited to conserve battery power;
  • Performance - This mode keeps the ICE running because the priority is more on charging the battery than on efficiency. This guarantees that power is instantly and fully available when required. This mode is best suited to situations in which driving pleasure and fun behind the wheel are the main focus.
  • Qualify - This mode allows the system to achieve maximum power output by letting the electric motors work at their maximum potential (162kW). The control logic prioritizes maximum performance over battery charging.

Ferrari honed the car's power and underpinnings to ensure that drivers can enjoy their time behind the wheel at all times, not just on a track day. Due to the hybrid powertrain, extensive work had to be put in to the traction control system, torque vectoring technology, and brake-by-wire control system. They also completely redesigned the car's chassis from the SF90 Stradale to deal with the extra stress associated with the new power unit.

Just as much attention was paid to the car's aerodynamics, downforce, and cooling so that the roof and powertrain would not encumber the ride and drive experience.

Inside, the car is just as modern. The redesign of Ferrari's infotainment system allows for instrumental to be predominately digital with all the screens going completely black when the car is not running. The screens come to life when the engine stop/start button on the steering wheel is pressed. The instrument cluster is made up of a 16-inch curved screen.

Innovations are found throughout the cabin. The wheel now allows for touch commands to activate so that drivers don't have to take their hands off the wheel to make adjustments. The gearshift has been altered away from the F1 bridge and toward the design of Ferrari's manual gearboxes.

At the bottom of the center tunnel is a compartment for stowing the car's ignition key, which is an exact replica of the Ferrari Prancing Horse badge. The key works in full keyless mode so that the driver can not only start the ignition but also open the doors without taking it out of their pocket.

If you want a SF90 Spider, you'll want to head to your local dealership ASAP to put your name down (after you ensure you'll be able to afford the likely $500,000+ price tag).

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New sports sedan

2022 Infiniti Q50 gets more standard tech

The car sees new tech and interior features for 2022.

Infiniti

The Infiniti Q50 is an aging but still-stylish sedan that offers value and power, but it hasn't quite kept pace with the crop of more engaging premium European cars. However, it's still worth a look, and to press that point further, Infiniti has updated the car for 2022 with a healthy list of standard features.

2022 Infiniti Q50 Exterior styling has not changed for 2022.Infiniti

Headline updates for the 2022 Q50 are wireless Apple CarPlay and newly standard Bose Performance Series Audio. There's now leather for every trim, but in the ways that count, the car is the same as the one we saw last year, the year before, and so on.

That's not to say that the car is bad. After all, it still offers a 300-horsepower twin-turbo V6 as standard and can be upgraded with a 400-horsepower version of the engine. And, despite its aging exterior styling, it's still a handsome car with smooth, sculpted bodywork. The seven-speed automatic transmission and available all-wheel drive remain in place.

2022 Infiniti Q50 All-wheel drive is available for all models.Infiniti

Pricing for the 2022 Infiniti Q50 starts at $43,125, which includes a $1,025 destination fee. The car gets standard wireless Apple CarPlay, leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, and Bose Performance Audio. All-wheel drive is available for a $2,000 upcharge.

2022 Infiniti Q50 Wireless Apple CarPlay and Bose audio are standard.Infiniti

The mid-range Q50 Sensory starts at $48,825, and comes with 19-inch wheels, black open-pore wood interior accents, navigation, and an air purifier system. Stepping up to the top Q50 Red Sport 400 will run $56,975, and brings the more powerful V6 engine, semi-aniline leather upholstery, and Dynamic Digital Suspension, which adjusts damping settings depending on road conditions and driving style.

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Family driving

Can your family live with a convertible?

Convertibles are fun, but can your family handle the size and driving experience?

BMW

Testing convertibles is always great fun, but they sometimes show up when the weather isn't ideal. Here in Maine, our drop-top driving season is fleeting, which can make for a tricky time driving with the top down. This year, however, a 2021 BMW 430i Convertible showed up in early August and I had an entire week of sun to soak up in the open air. I have two children, however, and own a three-row SUV to haul them, their friends, and all the accompanying gear. Squeezing into a convertible is possible and even fun at times, but it got me thinking: Could a convertible be a car we could live with on a daily basis? The answer for me is no, but there's more to the story, and I'm certainly not ruling out a drop-top purchase for my family at some point in the future.

Of course, none of this came as a surprise to me. Last year, I tested the BMW M850i Convertible, and while it was a blast, there was nothing about it that screamed "family car." This BMW is no different, but my younger daughter's shift to a booster seat from a full-size harness car seat made the back-seat fit for both of my kids much easier. Now, it's a little easier to see how the 430i Convertible could be a perfect weekend or summer car for a family that is already set with roomy daily drivers.

Here's how owning a convertible might play out for your family.


2021 BMW 430i Convertible The BMW 430i Convertible is premium, inside and out.BMW

Open-Top Fun – At a Cost

This BMW's price tag lands in the mid-$50,000 range with a few desirable options, which is about right for a premium brand convertible. There are much cheaper options to be had, however, in the Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro. Both cars come in a convertible format and can be found for around half the price of the BMW. There are performance and luxury penalties when moving to the less expensive options, but for most people the draw of a convertible is the open-top experience itself. You don't absolutely need screaming performance or a top-notch interior to get the full convertible experience.

Good in Small Doses

My kids are over the moon about riding in a convertible for a while, and then spend the rest of the time complaining about noise, bugs, and wind. Rolling the side windows up helps, and models with a retractable rear windscreen are even better, but the reality is that some kids are not the best at dealing with outside-the-norm car experiences. More often than not, we'd end up driving for half an hour or so with the top down, a few more minutes with the windows up, and then the rest of the time with the top closed. That's no fun in a small car that feels even smaller with the top up.


2021 BMW 430i Convertible If your kids are like mine, the open-top experience comes with some tradeoffs.BMW

Weather Woes

I get that most of you don't live in Maine like I do, and that your spring, summer, and fall months extend longer throughout the year. You're able to enjoy the open-top driving experience more often than those of us in New England, but there will still be times that driving a convertible is less than enjoyable. If you live in Florida, for instance, how often are you going to want to drive with the top down when it's 90 degrees with 80 percent humidity under the bright sun? Even with the wind in your hair, that will get old. Keep this in mind if you're shopping for a convertible.

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