Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Ferrari Sales and Service Bay Area - Road Test: Ferrari 430 Scuderia - San Francisco Motorsports San Rafael
We finally managed to achieve what the Italian smugs at Ferrari have long tried to prevent! This is our first and surely not our last road test of a red shiny prancing horse. And for those wondering, yes it is the faster, lighter, and more compelling version of the F430, the 430 Scuderia. Available to our disposal for one single day somewhere in Germany, the Scuderia delivered everything that the 430-series had to offer in a track-biased and powerful package.
Built to showcase the company’s F1 racing technology in a street car, the Scuderia followed in the footsteps of the 355 Challenge and the 360 Challenge Stradale when it was introduced at the IAA car show in 2007. Considered as the final hoorah of the 430 series, the Italians released a 16M Spider version in 2009 to commemorate Ferrari’s 16th victory in the Formula 1 Constructor’s World Championship 2008.
Based upon the ‘normal’ 430, the track-biased sports car is 100kg lighter than its standard brother. The weight is shed using an aggressive race-bred body kit including a Lexan – instead of glass – rear window, titanium springs, titanium lug bolts, carbon fiber bay liners and air boxes plus lightweight front and rear bumpers. The vehicle rides on 19 inch magnesium wheels shod in Pirelli P Zero Corsa. Carbon ceramic composite brakes are the main stopping tool. On the inside, the Italians fitted a minimalistic cabin without any carpeting nor floor mats and different lightweight race seats.
On a technical level, quicker gear shifts, special settings on the Manettino switch and an increase of 20hp up to 510hp complements the Scuderia’s performance. The 4.3 liter flat-plane-crankshaft V8 delivers its power linear throughout the rev band while being accompanied by a torque of 470Nm. The increase in power over the F430 was realized by new pistons and hand-polished intake manifolds, a slightly higher compression ratio (up from 11.3:1 to 11.9:1) and an exhaust system that breathes more freely and sounds absolutely brilliant.
The powerplant is linked to a flappy-pedal F1 shifter featuring 150ms shift intervals, which are cut to just 60ms if you have at least 5,000rpm on the dial and the throttle pressed more than halfway down. The automated manual Superfast2 gearbox is controlled via column-mounted pedals visible behind the ergonomically-shaped carbon steering wheel, which holds shift lights and the famous Manettino switch. This rotary button lets you to change the parameters for the engine, gearshift, E-diff and traction and stability controls.
The magic switch has a total of five settings. Compared to the F430, the ICE setting had been removed in favor of the CT setting which only deactivates the traction control, while leaving the stability control engaged. We started our journey in Sport mode, which is the best setting for every-day on-the-road use. Engage the Soft suspension mode and you travel with comfort in a track-biased sports car.
Sport was left behind quickly after several minutes behind the wheel of the 430. The RACE setting offered us more engagement, improved shifts, maximum performance and better stability while speeding on the famous autobahn and local German country roads. Via the CT setting we would have entered the territory of track superstars, but we decided differently in local traffic. With the CST setting, the traction and stability controls are switched off to allow maximum freedom and driving control on the racetrack. In this case there are no electronic devices to control the vehicle’s stability, except for the E-Diff.
Finding your way inside the Ferrari goes with ease. The Scuderia driver’s seat feels quite comfortable for a trackcar and communicates precisely what a driver wants to feel. While our body was strapped inside the carbon fiber racing seat, our ears were entertained by the screaming exhaust which opens its full arsenal of tunes above 3,500rpm. Our hands controlled the light steering precisely through the country bends. The steering felt surprisingly nimble up to a point you start to ask yourself how well Porsche’s are capable of moving you around corners. Yes, it is no match to a GT 911, but it comes pretty close!
The Scuderia is clearly a trackday weapon with its superb handling balance, great grip, intoxicating soundtrack and amazing brakes. The Formula 1-inspired Italian sports car revs all the way up to 8,500rpm where it plays its best cards. The F1 gearbox was an amazing piece of kit at its introduction and still leaves its mark in the sports car segment. The whole package excels in combining a raw and pure driving experience.
On the road, the ride is outstandingly composed if you opt for the softer shock settings. The 430 takes you to and from the track with great ease. At the track the quality of the interaction between machine, butt and cerebrum must be fabulous well controlled. Add these to the freedom of the Manettino drive settings and beginners, experienced drivers and trackday lunatics have a wonderful track toy at their disposal. One which shares the complete Italian thrill of driving and racing.