Is Ferrari falling apart? Key members of its team have jumped ship in the past two years, including chief engineer Roberto Fedeli, who defected to BMW, Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali, who is now at Audi, and vehicle concept mastermind Philippe Krief, who took a handful of specialists with him when he left to run Alfa Romeo’s skunkworks. Oh, and let’s not forget that Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne cut loose charismatic Luca di Montezemolo and then ascended to the chairmanship of Ferrari himself. What happens now that Marchionne is calling the shots? Ferrari gets fluffier, doubles or triples production, and makes a family-friendly SUV?
No. Veteran Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa still pulls the strategic strings, and he oversees Michael Leiters, an enthusiast who came from Porsche and is now Ferrari’s chief technological officer. Even Marchionne is too shrewd to mess with the brand values of his golden goose, and he understands that any kind of evolution must revolve around sports cars and only sports cars.
Ferrari will launch a brand-new modular vehicle architecture that will underpin most future models, save special-edition one-offs. The layout will not only cut development and purchasing costs but also introduce a new level of production flexibility. The matrix, built around a lightweight, all-aluminum spaceframe, will work for both front- and mid-engine vehicles, and electronic networks, drivetrains, and complete suspension setups can be swapped in and out with ease. The modular vehicle architecture should be introduced by the second-generation Ferrari California in 2017 (pictured above).
A more track-focused California
The California will also be the first Ferrari to have an all-new look for the brand—more extroverted, more aggressive, and more radical. The California will be more focused on track performance and significantly lower to the ground, yet it will retain its folding hardtop, which will be lighter and stack more efficiently. We might also see a less expensive California with a twin-turbo 2.9-liter V-6 instead of the turbocharged 3.9-liter V-8.
Though the V-6 could have the same 90-degree layout as the Ferrari V-8, R&D is also considering a F1-style 120-degree V-6, which would help forestall unpleasant vibration and push down the center of gravity. Ferrari says that 600 hp is feasible, and that’s before adding any electric power-assist systems. The best part about this V-6, though, is that it will be made-to-measure for the Ferrari Dino Concept, which Montezemolo wouldn’t approve but Marchionne is eager to build. The Dino, which might come to market as the 486, will look butch and aggressive rather than sleek and elegant like the original Dino 246 GT from 1969. Call the Dino an entry-level Ferrari if you want, but since the price will start around $200,000, we won’t. This compact mid-engine coupe will be derived from the completely redesigned Ferrari 488 GTB, but it will sit on a shorter, slightly narrower platform. It will have minimal overhangs, a low roofline, and unique lights, bumpers, wheels, and doors.
The next FF
Meanwhile, the 700-hp twin-turbo V-8 that will be going into the redesigned Ferrari 488 GTB should also make its way into the second-generation FF, replacing the car’s naturally aspirated V-12. To be built on Ferrari’s modular matrix, the FF will continue to be a four-door, four-passenger car with all-wheel drive, but it will look revolutionary. Ferrari is considering full-length gullwing doors for the FF, as well as a shorter nose, a longer roof, and a slightly longer rear end.
If you’re worried about the V-12 dying off, don’t be. Market research has told Ferrari in no uncertain terms that there is strong demand for a high-end, front-engine two-seater powered by a naturally aspirated V-12, so expect the F12 Berlinetta replacement to still have 12 cylinders. Felisa and friends are also preparing a top-secret jubilee model for Ferrari’s 70th anniversary in 2017. Referred to by some as LaFerrarina, the car will be loosely based on LaFerrari’s platform, only less extreme in design and concept. While the V-12 is the logical choice for this car, an active-hybrid system built around a turbocharged V-8 would be a more forward-looking application. LaFerrarina’s production run is believed to be limited to 1,947 units in honor of the Ferrari’s founding year.
We haven’t heard anything about Ferrari’s next supercar—a lesser version of LaFerrari without electronic power enhancers has been discussed but not approved—but we hope to soon. It should be good. Because Ferrari isn’t falling apart.