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First Drive

Ferrari SF90 XX Spider review: a hardcore folding hard-top?

£733,000 when new
710
Published: 30 Apr 2024
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There’s never been a convertible Ferrari XX car before, right?

Correct, and with good reason: the XX programme’s reason for existing was a VIP-only gathering of Ferrari’s most trusted and valued customers getting let loose in too-hot-for-the-road track versions of the Enzo, 599, and LaFerrari. They were test beds for future Ferrari aero and tech. They were as extreme as Ferraris got.

But Ferrari muddied the waters by branding the slightly lighter, more powerful version of the SF90 Stradale as an ‘XX’. For a kick off, it’s road legal. It has stickier (but not slick) tyres. It has a radio and a nose-lift mechanism. And instead of only building maybe 20 or 30 cars, Ferrari built 799 coupes.

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And now, on top of that, 599 open-top Spider versions.

Nice bit of business for Ferrari then?

Absolutely: if you were the boss you’d have signed it off too. An SF90 XX Spider costs £733,000, before any optional trim, livery or upholstery has been counted. These winged XX cars cost £315,000 more than the ‘standard’ SF90 Spider. Yet in terms of raw numbers, it’s only 10kg lighter and 30bhp more powerful.

Not as though Ferrari has any trouble selling its limited edition cars though, is it?

Nope. The ‘Icona’ models like the gorgeous Monza speedster and Daytona were hungrily snapped up and even a controversial risk like the Purosangue SUV is apparently sold out until around 2025. Ferrari doesn’t miss. It knows how to keep customers lining up perhaps better than any other car brand on Earth. You want the new one, and you don’t want to miss out on the next one…

Will the collectors of tomorrow want this one?

Not those who prize beauty: this is an awkward looking wedge in the metal. It’s enormous, with a beaky front overhang, and the XX’s additional aero sits ill at ease with the open-top silhouette. There’s a reason Porsche doesn’t offer a GT3 RS Cabriolet.

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But if you collect the fastest of the fast…

If you simply want outright shove – and there’s plenty of people who do – then this’ll do the job terrifyingly well. It is brutally, shockingly fast. Hypercar pace aplenty: we’re talking the accelerative urgency of a Bugatti Chiron, but the agility of a big Lotus. Ferrari claims 0-62mph in a wild 2.3 seconds and 0-125mph in 6.7s, but the sensation is relentless and more ruthless than numbers can convey.

With the roof down (or the rear window independently stowed) you can hear when the turbos are coming into play, but there’s been no sense of lag in the meantime because of the binary thwack from the front electric motors, and the one on the crank.

On the exit of a corner, an SF90 XX doesn’t accelerate, it teleports. 1,013bhp is on-a-plate accessible. If Ferrari’s F1 was this easy to drive they’d have won ten straight championships. Max who?

That’s not the same as it being rewarding though...

Exactly. The XX isn’t as indulgent as you’d hope. There’s no ear-pleasing reward for revving the engine out. Ferrari’s first EV lands next year, but in terms of character this is halfway there: eye-wettingly, mouth-dryingly quick, but the experience goes stale more readily than you’d expect.

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You can’t fault the amount of traction. The gearbox is an insta-shifting delight. And the integration of the argumentative powertrains with the traction and stability control is other-worldly, as usual from Ferrari. But after about half an hour, I found myself thinking “fine, but I’d be enjoying this road just as much in a 296 GTS. Maybe more. And I’d have half a million Euros in change.” I was very cross, until I remembered it didn’t belong to me at all.

Is it a good roadster?

Another mixed bag. The roof whirrs quietly and as per usual for a folding hard-top, refinement when it’s closed gives nothing away to the coupe. But with the roof stowed, you can feel a surprisingly amount of wobble from the steering wheel on imperfect roads. And there’s tell-tale shudder from the rear-view mirror as the structure flexes.

Amazingly the car continues to demolish any road you feed to it, but when McLaren will sell you a carbon-tubbed super-Spider with zero scuttle shake for a third of the price, the SF90 XX Spider feels a bit… olde-tech, somehow. 

Mind you, this is mitigated by prodding the bumpy-road suspension setting and calming down the drive a little. Result. But not very ‘XX’.

And whaddya know, the XX makes for a pleasant al fresco roadster. The V8 drones, but you could dispense with that altogether by deploying the 25 miles of pure electrical power and whistle along listening to the birdsong. It doesn’t buffet your hairdo. There are no whistling window seals. It’s a testament to how useable modern hypercars have become. Almost.

What’s the catch?

You couldn’t go anywhere in it. Thanks to those air-funnelling bonnet nostrils, the SF90 XX has even less boot space than the standard SF90. Which is to say, none whatsoever. You’ve got a track-focused cabrio, but you’ll have to wear your helmet and race suit on the drive to the track. Not a cool look.

And when you get there, you might bump into someone with an SF90 Assetto Fiorano pack, which costs six figures less, and weighs three figures less. And its owner will smugly remark “Mine’s got carbon wheels, Multimatic dampers, racing seats and harnesses. Why doesn’t yours?” And you’ll have a hard old time explaining why. You’ll be getting burned, in your fireproof race suit.

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