REVIEW DATE: 12 Oct 2007
Believe it or not, there exist those who feel that Ferrari's F430 is a little soft. The Scuderia version offers a deafening, battering, teeth shattering riposte. Jonathan Crouch reports
Ferrari's 430 Scuderia is a lightened, toughened, lower and faster version of the F430 for which Ferrari will expect an additional £43,000 or so. Lightweight, simple and striking with a distinctive engine and exhaust sound: every last detail of the Ferrari 430 Scuderia exudes uncompromising sportiness.
Ferrari have released data showing that the average Ferrari driver spends ten per cent of their time on race tracks. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that ten per cent of their car's mileage is devoted to track use. Either way, no other manufacturer's products can claim anything close to this in terms of client usage. All of which points to a healthy demand in Ferrari terms for a car like the 430 Scuderia.
Weighing in at 1250kg (100kg lighter than the standard model) and offering up 510bhp from a naturally aspirated 4308cc V8 engine, the 430 Scuderia boasts an extraordinarily low weight-power ratio of just 2.45 kg/bhp, which allows it to sprint from rest to sixty in just 3.6 seconds. It can also complete a lap at Fiorano in a time comparable to that of the Enzo, the Ferrari that has come to epitomise Maranello's philosophy of transferring F1 content to its road cars.
The engine noise is an all-pervasive accompaniment. Twist the key and you get the usual furtive whine of the starter motor before the engine explodes into life with the sort of riotous, fruity bark that you thought European bureaucrats had legislated out of existence years ago. Ferrari say they've worked hard to create this. Cutting-edge calculation tools were employed to optimise the 430 Scuderia's intake and exhaust systems and sound damping, with the result that the exhaust and engine sound inside the cabin is clear, powerful and particularly thrilling in full acceleration.
The 430 Scuderia's engine is an evolution of the F430's 90 V8 which features a number of modifications to boost its specific power output from 114bhp/litre to 118bhp/litre. The transmission is a paddle shift system that takes you as close as you can get to the experience of driving a real F1 car. It's called 'F1-SuperFast2' and it's an evolution of the F1 gearbox used on all of Ferrari's models that reduces gear-shifting times to just 60 miliseconds, the fastest time of any of the models in the Prancing Horse range and the lowest overall of any automated-manual gearbox.
"The engine noise is an all-pervasive accompaniment.."
Ride comfort isn't quite as harsh as you might expect for a track-focused car but even so, unless you're planning to take to the circuits regularly, you'd be better off opting for a standard F430. The brakes are far better on the Scuderia though, with front discs that are 18 mm larger and more hard-wearing. Another novelty with this model, supposedly developed by Michael Schumacher, is a button on the centre console which allows the suspension to be controlled separately from the standard predefined set-up. This allows the driver to maintain maximum performance even on irregular road surfaces.
The 430 Scuderia's external styling has been honed to improve its aerodynamic efficiency by increasing overall downforce whilst still retaining the same drag values as the standard F430. The aerodynamic efficiency of the re-styled rear diffuser has been improved by the addition of a revised profile for the spoiler at the rear of the engine cover and by the large venturis that run from the front wheel houses to the rear bumpers, achieving the patented "Base Bleed" effect. This has the double advantage of reducing the pressure in the rear wheel arch, thereby increasing downforce and lowering drag by blowing the car's wake.
The 430 Scuderia is the first high performance road car after the F430 to sport an electronic differential (E-Diff2), a technology borrowed directly from Formula One. Torque is continuously distributed between the wheels via two sets of friction discs (one for each driveshaft) controlled by a hydraulic actuator. More evidence of careful designwork comes with the F1-Trac traction control system, which ensures that even more drivers will be able to extract the maximum performance from the car, thanks to the improved cornering, safety and stability it offers.
Build quality is leagues better than Ferraris of yesteryear but still not quite up to Porsche standards. For many though, the difference will be more than compensated for by styling that you'll never tire of admiring.
'Value' of course is a relative term in this rarefied sector of the market. You're paying a premium of £43,000 over a standard F430 for what many non track users will see as less of a car. One could also argue that £172,500 is a great deal of money when a Porsche 911 GT2 offers more power and day to day usability for around £130,000.
Still, the sort of people who will buy this car are not the kind of people who pore over stats and compare prices. They'll buy a Scuderia because it's a very exclusive Ferrari that represents part of Michael Schumacher's legacy with the Prancing Horse marque.
Even if you're not a Ferrari fan, drive one and you can see why so many people will do almost anything to attain ownership. The cabin is a totally driver-focused place to be, the user settling into a 'Super Racing' seat that boasts an all-carbon-fibre structure and is available in several different sizes. An option that will appeal to many customers is the carbonfibre kit intended to enhance the message that this is a lean, track-focused driver's car. The headlamp assembly, engine cover, front spoiler, side sill kick panels and diffuser are all available in this high tech material. There is also now a choice of wheel rim colours and a specially designed carbon-fibre helmet is available to order.
If we ignore the fact that Ferrari owners don't much care about fuel economy (an average of 18mpg if you're interested) and insurance (group 20 of course), most of your cost of ownership issues as an owner are going to centre around the extend to which you really do use your car on track. If you don't of course, you might as well have saved yourself £43,000 and bought a standard F430.
If you do however, you're going to have to resign yourself to a pretty hefty tyre budget. Rubber for 19" 235/35 front wheels and 285/35 rears doesn't come at all cheap. There'll inevitably be other wear and tear costs too. We're not alone here in thinking that Porsches are far more reliable when it comes to tough trackday work. Looking on the bright side, residuals for this very special car are likely to remain strong. It's a future classic. For many, that alone will be enough.
In cold financial and statistical terms, it's difficult to make a compelling case for ownership of a 430 Scuderia. On paper, something like a Porsche 911 GT2 does everything better and offers a wider range of day-to-day abilities for less money. But as we've said, almost no one buys a Ferrari in cold financial and statistical terms.
Despite its high-tech approach, the philosophy of the 430 Scuderia is a throwback to illustrious Ferraris of yesteryear. It follows in the tyre tracks of cars like the 166 or 250 GT and, somewhat later, the GTO or F40. With cars like these, gentleman customer-drivers like Chinetti, Marzotto, Gregory and Guichet won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 12 Hours of Reims and the Mille Miglia and drove to victory in international championships. The 430 Scuderia may have some hallowed forebears but it's a car that's a credit to its lineage. Ferrari is a marque defined by competition. This particular one never tires of reminding you of that fact. Forcefully.
|For F430 SCUDERIA|
|OVERALL||6.5 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||5|