Ripping around the narrow roadways that crawl like capillaries across the Hollywood Hills in the Ferrari SF90 Stradale, the thrills are gloriously visceral.
Thank the supercar’s futuristic plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain—the first-ever from Ferrari—featuring a re-engineered and enlarged version of the marque’s twin-turbo V8 (swollen from 3.9 to 4.0 liters), augmented with a trio of electric motors.
With a motor affixed to each front wheel, the SF90’s all-world AWD keeps the supercar seemingly magnetically attached to the pockmarked asphalt of these ancient roads, and the torque vectoring—when one front wheel moves faster than the other to hasten turning radius—makes cornering feel… perverse.
But when rare straights appear on Mulholland, and the totality of the quad-motor powertrain’s 986 horses hit, the breath leaves your chest: blistering acceleration (0-60 mph in under 2.5 seconds) slingshots the SF90 Stradale from standstill until the V8 kicks in… and then proceeds to tear the concrete from the firmament, all the way up to a ceiling of 211 mph.
There are few, if any, bloodlines more royal in the automotive kingdom than that which begat the SF90. Recall the early ’80s: The first road-legal Ferrari racecar since the early ’60s, the 288 GTO launched the modern Ferrari supercar lineage in 1984.
However Porsche’s 959 rival—also developed for Group B racing—surpassed the 288 GTO, forcing Enzo Ferrari to up the stakes with the landmark F40, according to many Ferraristi the greatest vehicle in the Cavallino Rampante’s modern history.
The F40 hit showrooms in 1987 loaded with futuristic materials (Kevlar and carbon fiber) and so stripped to the bone—pull-cords replaced door handles—that buyers complained the paint was too thin. It was clear Ferrari came ready to rumble.
Scions in what some dub the ‘F’ Supercar range followed: the F50, Enzo, and most recently the LaFerrari—the marque’s first hybrid hypercar, with mind-boggling metrics and sheet metal so nextlevel it looked imagined by aliens. So when Maranello decided to unveil a new model in this lineage—SF90 for “90th anniversary of Scuderia Ferrari”, Stradale for “street”—you can be assured of its nobility.
The SF90’s looks are there too: sleek like only a mid-engined coupé from Maranello can be. Not quite the extraterrestrial skin of its LaFerrari predecessor, but still radiating enough highborn aura to swivel heads on the jaded promenade of Rodeo Drive. The message from Ferrari is clear: the king has returned.