Maranello - What you’re looking at (or more like ogling over) right now is perhaps the most significant car that Ferrari has launched in modern times.

Not only is the SF90 Ferrari’s most potent road car ever, but it also ushers in a new era of hybrid propulsion for the Prancing Horse - and technically it is the marque’s first front-wheel-driven car too, but not in the way you might think.

As Ferrari’s first series production plug-in-hybrid electric vehicle, the SF90 mates a turbocharged V8 engine to three electric motors for a total system output of 736kW, which is enough to get it from 0-100km/h in just 2.5 seconds and to 200 in 6.7s, according to claims, while the top speed is listed at 250km/h.

This manic acceleration is largely down to the way this car puts its power to the road - with two electric motors mounted on the front axle and a third one positioned between the petrol engine and the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, which together drive the rear wheels, the SF90 is Ferrari’s first all-wheel-drive car.

In fact, technically it’s also the first front-driven Ferrari too as the electric motors mounted up front can operate independently, and propel the car for up to 25km (albeit only at speeds of up to 135km/h) when the 7.9 kWh Li-ion battery has a full charge.

For the record, the V8 turbo engine produces 574kW at 7500rpm and 800Nm at 6000rpm, while the three electric motors can together produce up to 162kW.

A sophisticated control system seamlessly manages the flow of power between the four power units, and all the driver needs to do is select one of four drive modes:

eDrive - you’re going totally electric for up to 25km

Hybrid - the car’s default mode, optimising efficiency but also having all the power on tap when it’s needed.

Performance - keeps the V8 running at all times and focuses less on efficiency and more on battery charging (in case full power is needed at a later stage).

Qualify - maximum performance is required right now, and prioritised over battery charging. Go get 'em!

While the hybrid system with its trio of heavy batteries adds substantial weight to the car (270kg in this case), engineers have mitigated this to a degree with an all-new chassis and body structure that employs numerous lightweight materials, including carbon fibre. In the end, overall weight was kept down to a more than acceptable 1570kg.

For the control side of the equation, the SF90 has a completely new multi-material chassis, boasting 20 percent higher bending stiffness and 40 percent more torsional rigidity than previous Ferrari platforms.

Aerodynamics are another key consideration when this kind of performance is in store, and the SF90’s many wind-cheating features allow it to achieve 390 kg of downforce at 250 km/h. The one Ferrari is most proud of is its shut-off Gurney, a rear-mounted active system that regulates the air flow over the upper body.

Which one are you?

Clients can choose between the more comfort-oriented standard SF90 and a more hardcore

‘Assetto Fiorano’ specification that gets extra lightweight features that shave off 30kg, as wellas Multimatic shock absorbers, a high-downforce carbon fibre rear spoiler and Michelin Pilot Cup2 tyres.

But what about that space where the driver resides?

Ferrari has completely modernised the cabin of the SF90, with features like a fully-digital, and configurable, curved HD instrument cluster and a steering-wheel-mounted touchpad with haptic buttons, which allows the driver to control nearly every aspect of the car without taking their hands off the wheel.

The completely modern ‘Human Machine Interface’ also includes a Head Up Display, and there’s a bridge-like tunnel area in the central cabin which features F1-inspired controls.

IOL Motoring