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2009 Ferrari F430
Original MSRP: $186,925 - $281,618
MPG: 11 City / 16 Hwy
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2009 Ferrari F430 Performance

This performance review was written when the 2009 Ferrari F430 was new.

Auto critics find that the Ferrari F430's aerodynamic design and F1 race technology combine to make one hell of supercar. Though reviewers find the coupe and Spider capable in their own right, many favor the Scuderia, which is engineered for the sole purpose of leaving its high-performance competitors in the dust.

  • "[T]he F430 is more than a cold-blooded G-force generator. It's a total experience, one that dopes every pleasure receptor in your brain with automotive giddiness. Achieving that abstract goal is always trickier than hitting hard performance targets -- call it the alchemy of desirability." -- New York Times
  • "The F430 affects you like an electrode implanted straight into your nucleus accumbens, holding you in such rapture that you really don't give a rip that a Corvette Z06 laps faster and costs less than half as much." -- Car and Driver
  • "You would think, given the Ferrari F430 Spider's unearthly good looks -- its sheet metal like a fierce, turbulent flow of molten lipstick -- that the car would primarily be a visual experience. And yet, as I sit here reflecting on my week in this car, my brain trembling with San Andreas-like aftershocks and my hair fully locked in the horizontal position, what I remember most is its sound - or sounds. This thing has more voices than Linda Blair in full antichrist mode." -- Los Angeles Times
  • "From the driver's seat the feeling is incredible. The seating position makes it feel like you are situated ahead of the front wheels and because of the massive power, screaming V8 and perfect handling, you may find yourself explaining your forgetfulness to the police." -- AutoGuide.com

Acceleration and Power

Auto writers agree that the F430's got the bite to match its bark -- especially the Scuderia.

While every F430 comes equipped with the same 4.3-liter V8 engine, the Scuderia generates more horses than the coupe and Spider. Ferrari reports that the coupe and Spider produce 490-horsepower at 8,500 rpm and 343 pound-feet of torque at 5,350 rpm. However, the Scuderia packs 510 horses of power, as well as a 10 percent increase in torque at low and mid-range revs, and up to four percent between 6,000 to 8,500 rpm.

Standard for both the coupe and Spider is a traditional six-speed manual transmission. However, a FI automatic gearbox that allows drivers to switch between manual and automatic modes is also available. For the Scuderia, Ferrari employs F1 Superfast 2 software, which accelerates gearchange operation to 60 milliseconds on the electro-hydraulic F1 gearbox. Ferrari boasts, "That's close to F1 times of around 40 ms."

According to Ferrari, the F430 has a maximum speed of 196 mph and can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 4.0 seconds (0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds). The EPA reports a city/highway fuel efficiency of 11/16 mpg.

  • "The pushbutton starter brings the F430 to life with a ferocity that borders on sheer anger; it's noisier at idle than many cars are at full throttle. But full throttle at high rpm is where this engine comes alive, and where it likes to reside." -- Road and Track
  • " Performance testing backed up our seat-of-the-pants impressions, with a 0-to-60 time of 4.6 seconds and a quarter-mile run in 12.4 seconds at 125.3 mph. While the F1 paddle-shifter makes upshifts and downshifts almost child's play, getting the F430 Spider off the line requires a deft right foot." -- Edmunds
  • "By a variety of measures, including the liberal use of carbon fiber, a Lexan rear window, and titanium springs and wheel nuts, Ferrari says it has trimmed 221 pounds off the F430 [Scuderia], producing a curb weight of about 3150 pounds. It is claimed that the Scuderia shaves 0.4 second off the F430's 0-to-62-mph time of four seconds flat and that the car laps Ferrari's Fiorano test track as fast as an Enzo." -- Car and Driver
  • "To double-downshift this car in a tiled tunnel is to experience utter automotive satori. The whopping, snapping overrun sounds made me choke back tears of joy." -- Los Angeles Times
  • " F1-Trac allows the nonprofessional driver to explore the limits of the 430's [Scuderia] performance by automating one of the trickiest aspects of ten-tenths driving in a high-powered car: throttle modulation on corner exit. With F1-Trac engaged, you merely point the nose toward the track-out point, floor the throttle, and let the electronics dole out as much power as conditions allow. -- Automobile Magazine

Handling and Braking

Test drivers are left floored by the 430's superior handling dynamics. In fact, some contend that it's the best around.

The 2009 F430 features a front/rear weight distribution of 43/57. While a standard Electronic Differential (E-DIFF) helps to maintain road grip, Stability and Traction Control (CST) preserve the F430's balance and poise through the sharpest twists and turns. Also, when road conditions change, the F430's steering-wheel mounted Manettino system allows drivers to alter CST and suspension settings accordingly.

As the F430's high-performance sibling, the Scuderia is equipped with carbon-ceramic brakes and Formula One race technology -- the F1 Trac. Combined with E-DIFF and the "Race" manettino setting, Ferrari says that F1 Trac increases the Scuderia's acceleration by 40 percent out of corners. With the "sport" setting engaged, acceleration out of corners is increased by 20 percent.

  • "The F430 is the best-handling car in the world. There, I've said it. This thing feels like it was grown from the purest of sports-car stem cells and exposed to Fantastic Four-like gamma rays. An hour's hard driving in mountain switchbacks will exhaust your supply of sailor expletives and you will be reduced to 'Gee willikers' and 'Boy howdy!'" -- Los Angeles Times
  • "Despite the electronics, this is no PlayStation car. The systems have been calibrated by men who aren't just chasing speed but who truly grasp the sensations that addict us to driving. (Know this: The lead development engineer not only owns a Mini Cooper S, but also regrets he didn't opt for the smallest tires as they offer the best handling sensitivity.)" -- Motor Trend
  • "Coming up to another series of hairpin bends, the F430 turns in as eagerly as a kid choosing candy. The steering is so intuitive and so beautifully weighted that placing the car is a cinch, and the chassis is so fluent and poised that it's easy to dial out incipient understeer with power." -- Automobile Magazine
  • " The F430's steering is incredibly precise, perfectly quick and the feedback through the leather and carbon-fiber steering wheel is superb. Although the front end can occasionally feel light, in general the car is well planted, with minimal drop-throttle, mid-turn, tail-will-come-around antics." -- Road and Track
  • "[W]e can tell you the Scuderia is indeed a track weapon, with superb handling balance, great grip, and amazing brakes. The so-called race setting is impressive, allowing a driver to mash the throttle out of turns while the electronics decide when and how to apply engine torque. The setting also allows a bit of oversteer before the stability control intervenes to prevent the driver going from apparent hero to immediate zero. On the road, the Scuderia is equally fantastic, with a tactility and immediacy that few other cars offer." -- Car and Driver
Review Last Updated: 2/10/10

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