At the recent 2009 Frankfurt motor show CAR had a quick chat with Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa and quizzed him on the new 458 Italia, future variants, new powertrains, and his thoughts on the McLaren MP4-12C. Below are some extracts from the short-but-sweet interview.
Felisa was born in Milan in 1946 and graduated from the University Politecnico with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He joined Alfa Romeo’s Innovation and Experimentation department in 1972, before becoming head of Product Development in 1987.
In 1990 he joined Ferrari, and became general manager of the Gran Turismo department in 2001. Three years later Felisa was made deputy general manager of Ferrari, before becoming general manager and CEO in 2008.
What do you think of the new McLaren MP4-12C?
'We like the challenge. It is important to have the competition. But we are not worried about it – our culture is to do our own development.'
But perhaps Ferrari should be worried. The new 458 Italia produces 562bhp and 398lb ft, and propels a body that weighs 1380kg 'dry'. McLaren quotes a thirteen-hundred and something kerbweight, but the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 produces 'around 600bhp and 443lb ft'. Both claim 0-62mph sprints in a little over 3 seconds, but the MP4-12C should also be cleaner and greener.
What about future variants of the 458 Italia? When will we see the Spider version?
'First we must launch the 458. Then I expect we will see a Spider in early 2011.'
Expect the drop-top 458 to retain the F430 and 360's folding fabric roof arrangement, which will help differentiate it from the California. The 4.5-litre engine and twin-clutch gearbox will remain unchanged.
And what about a Scuderia version?
'The Scuderia was a special version, a new concept. For the new 458 there are not yet any plans for a new concept. It is too early.'
Still, expect there to be a harder, faster 458 in the future, especially if the new McLaren gives the Italian a bloody nose in the first twin tests come 2011.
Felisa also confirmed that although Ferrari recently filed patents covering turbocharged and hybrid powertrains, such applications in road-going cars were still at least four years away. As such, a successor to the Enzo wouldn't use the technology, though a new supercar was confirmed for 'around 2012'. New cars to replace the 612 Scaglietti and 599 Fiorano are further away, with replacements due between 2012 and 2015.
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