Ferrari F430: First Look
By Feann Torr: F430 Spider Road Test (4 out of 5)
Aggressively styled rear end adds visual impact
(Click images for larger/high resolution versions)
Before Lamborghini's Gallardo arrived, Ferrari had plans
to refresh its popular 360 Modena, perhaps adding a few extra
ponies under the bonnet and a mild change to the front and
But how things change when a little competition - and lost
market share - spoils an otherwise blissful party that Ferrari
had been enjoying in the wonderful world of automotive exotica.
As we reported a few months back, the F430, which we then
referred to as the 430
Modena, was being tested in disguised fashion, and now
Ferrari has come clean with the 360 Modena's successor.
Gone is the Modena namesake, replaced by the more technical
name of F430.
The F430 is the 360 Modena's replacement, but on a combative
level it's designed to take on the universally acclaimed Lamborghini
Gallardo, grind it into the ground and then turn up its nose
as it races off into the distance in a puff of tyre smoke.
It is a low-to-the-ground, two-seater rear wheel drive sportscar
built for high 'G' cornering, has a mid-mounted V8 engine,
is constructed from high-grade aluminium, has the latest generation
6-speed F1-derived gearbox and of course Ferrari's trademark
exotic styling that makes grown men swoon.
The F430s exterior design is close to what spy shots hinted
at previously, as the front end has Enzo-inspired headlight
clusters, albeit with slightly more rounded edges.
Twin oval air dams in the front fascia give it a more organic
look than the 360 Modena, while vertical cutouts in front
of the front wheels draws the eye to the front end and the
smoothly sculpted bonnet.
From the rear, the look is even more reminiscent of the V12-powered
flagship Ferrari, with almost-identical circular brake lights
and what appears to be a speed-sensitive pop-up rear wing.
The multifaceted rear diffuser located between quad chromium
exhaust pipes injects a good dose of street cred.
Furthermore, there are two enlarged mesh-covered air intakes
adorning the top of the rear quarter panels and another two
sitting lower, just in front of the rear wheels. (NB: click
images for high res versions.)
While the sculpted air intakes look great and embolden the
F430s look considerably, they serve the purpose of feeding
air into the engine bay, which is located behind the driver
and slightly forward of the rear axle (mid-mount positioning).
Their extra size accommodates the larger 4.3-litre V8 engine
(up from 3.6-litres), and the rear windscreen also has air
vents to keep the engine bay well ventilated, and overall
the new look is very easy on the eyes, and propels Ferrari's
volume-selling model stylishly into the 21st century.
Ferrari will be showing the new F430 for the first time publicly
at the 2004 Paris Motor Show, and on paper Lamborghini's 5.0-litre
V10 beats out the new Ferrari V8's peak power output by just
10 horsepower, and it's also marginally lighter too, with
the Lambo weighing 1430kg, while the new Ferrari tips the
scales @ 1450kg.
Does this mean that Stampeding Bull will kick the Prancing
Horse in the teeth? Not necessarily, but before we go any
further, let's get some statistics out of the way:
As you can tell from the statistics, the Lamborghini looks
to win out in almost every respect. It's shorter, meaning
improved flickability or turn-in, it's thinner, lower and
has more power and torque. But at the same token, it also
has a heavier, larger capacity engine, and one that's not
as rev-happy as the Ferrari's.
But really, these cars are close enough in overall specification
that those in the market for an expensive new toy will be
rewarded with either choice -- ultimately, the deciding factor
will come down to looks, interior space and brand loyalty.
Are you a Lambo-phile or a Ferrari fan?
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Even with the minor weight deficit and 45 Newton metres less
torque, the Ferrari is a newer design and thanks to its high-revving
V8 and sweet-as-you-like aerodynamics, it has better (claimed)
The Gallardo will hit 100km/h from rest in just 4.2 seconds,
enough to give anyone riding shotgun a good taste of their
breakfast, but the Ferrari claims to reach the same speed
from standstill in 4.0 seconds flat, giving it lounge room
bragging rights, something Lamborghini won't be too pleased
And it has to be said that Ferrari's new engine is quite
a revelation. While it eclipses its predecessor by a whopping
66kW - 360kW up from the Modena's 294kW - it is almost identical
in peak power output to the Lambo.
It is a smaller engine than its arch rival's, which has two
extra cylinders and some 653cc more capacity (4.3-litre V8
vs 5.0-litre V10), which says a lot about Ferrari's engine
making prowess to deliver such power from a naturally aspirated
The more efficient Ferrari V8 has a sky-high 11.3:1 compression
ratio, compared to the Gallardo's 11.0:1, and the other main
statistics include a specific output of 114hp/litre, also
providing the new Ferrari berlinetta with a weight-to-power
ratio of 2.8kg/hp (dry weight), which is incredibly impressive,
and hence the rapid acceleration.
Taking up where the 360 Modena left off in terms of aluminium
technology, the F430 is expected to offer improved torsional
rigidity for better power down and more responsive handling,
and also offers a series of "extremely significant innovations
directly derived from the Ferrari Formula 1 single-seaters"
according to Ferrari press materials.
These include the optional braking system, comprising carbon-ceramic
discs which promise to provide solid bite and minimal fade
under even the most extreme use, such as on the track.
There is also a Formula 1-derived gearbox that makes the
grade, which Ferrari reckons cuts gear shifting times down
150 milliseconds compared to the 360 Modena, which is pretty
A technical aerodynamic design incorporates a flat underbody
for reduced under-car turbulence at higher speeds, contributing
to overall downforce, plus a large and very detailed rear
diffuser helps increase downforce over the driving wheels
Ferrari also claims two world firsts for a production car:
the electronic differential (E-Diff) and the steering wheel-mounted
switches - better known to the Formula 1 Scuderia's drivers
as "manettino" - which manages the integrated systems
governing vehicle dynamics. We'll have more information on
these items during the Paris Motor Show, where the F430 is
to make its debut.
For fans of these exotic and expensive machines, the way
they handle, they way they corner will be of utmost importance
and, as such, this may also be the biggest difference between
the two. While the Lamborghini Gallardo diverts engine power
to all four wheels, the Ferrari transfers its 360kW (490hp)
to the rear hoops only, giving the purists and burnout lovers
a valid option when compared to Lamborghini's 'WRX'-ed AWD
All told, Ferrari's new F430 will give the Lambo Gallardo
one hell of a fight, and on paper at least, it promises to
be an incredibly close fight at that. And there are plenty
of intriguing new features that Ferrari has yet to let out
of the bag, such as the car's steering wheel-mounted switches.
These may end up being similar to that of the Enzo's, offering
indicators and other ancillary controls close to hand, but
it is more likely that they will allow for chassis adjustments
to be made on the run, performing functions such as increasing
damper rates, chaning the ride height and altering wing angles.