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Ferrari 456: why Maranello is considering a V6 entry-level supercar

By Georg Kacher

Motor Industry

25 August 2014 07:00

Ferrari is readying the next generation of supercars – and we’ve already reported how it’s about to start turbocharging the majority of its sports cars. But there’s another corner of Maranello’s R&D skunkworks which is developing V6 power for future sports cars.

We do not have official confirmation yet, but intelligence indicates that the new twin-turbo V6 is a 2.9-litre unit, designed to be long-term street-legal and affordable in big growth markets such as China.

Ferrari 456 V6: spec, details

Although the power output will be determined later in the development programme, 500bhp and 450lb ft should be an achievable target for the new V6 motor.

In the end, these numbers are of strategic and political nature - if Audi can squeeze 525bhp out of a 2.5-litre five-cylinder motor, Ferrari surely could get close to 600bhp out of a 2.9-litre six.

Which engine would a V6 appear in first? Ferrari’s TT rival?

Woah there! Ferrari is emphatically not chasing the mass market with its V6 plan. Instead, this is focused on making sure its sports cars have a sustainable future in a world in which civilisation at large – and rule makers – are hellbent on making cars cleaner and more efficient.

We know that Ferrari will unveil the turbocharged 458 Italia upgrade at the 2015 Geneva motor show, and the so-codenamed M458-T is due to last on sale until around 2019, according to CAR’s sources.

The V6 comes in after that. One scenario being studied at Ferrari HQ is that the 458 successor would split into two models: a V8 engined mainstream car, plus a slightly more affordable version powered by the new six-cylinder engine. Let´s call it the Ferrari 456 for lack of a more plausible option.

Current thinking is to make the 456 a slightly more compact car, be it by shortening the wheelbase, the overall length, or both. You see, CEO Amedeo Felisa is not only a stickler for weight, he also likes his sports car nimble and compact. That’s why the F12 is smaller than the 599, that’s why LaFerrari is no bigger than the Enzo.

Size, weight, mass, number of cylinders, power output… all directly influence a car´s efficiency. Indirectly, they determine how big and heavy you need to go in terms of cooling apparatus and brake dimensions, to name only two key parameters.

A V6 Ferrari! Sounds great

It gets better. Thanks to the fresh opportunities provided by the company’s highly flexible modular matrix, it would only be logical to make the 458 look more aggressive and overtly sporty than the leaner and slimmer 456.

There might even be a case for reviving the good old manual gearbox which could, in the 456, be a DCT-derived seven-speeder similar to the cogworks installed in the base 911.

Imagine that: an entry-level, lighter, cheaper Ferrari V6, with a manual click-clack open gearbox and CO2 emissions potentially nudging under 200g/km. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Click here to read about Ferrari's V12 engine plans.