IN AN age where nearly everyone has a smartphone with a camera, and anyone can buy and learn to fly a drone, ensuring a top-secret sports car remains just that — a secret — is harder than ever. Just ask Ferrari, which has been caught testing a new plug-in test car that is thought to contain the guts that will eventually power the Italian marque’s first SUV.
The first Ferrari plug-in hybrid will go on sale next year, says Sergio Marchionne, the boss of Ferrari and the Fiat Group.
Some industry observers are speculating that it could make its debut in the new SUV — nicknamed FUV (Ferrari Utility Vehicle) — which will rival the Lamborghini Urus.
And if these brief video clips are anything to go by, it is likely to be a petrol-electric V8 plug-in hybrid system. In footage taken at the Fiorano Circuit, which Ferrari uses to help develop still-secret models, the silent-running, zero-local emission hybrid system is caught being tested in a 488 engine development ‘mule’.
Purists may shudder at the thought of an eco-Ferrari for the school run, but the company is counting on the tech to safeguard its survival.
At the Geneva Motor Show, in March, Marchionne told reporters: “We’re going to embrace electrification and make it a mainstay.”
The company is currently exempt from European emissions legislation that car makers must meet by 2021, because it makes fewer than 10,000 cars.
“We’re going to embrace electrification and make it a mainstay”
However, Marchionne has been slowly but surely raising production levels at the Maranello site. “Once we have more than that [10,000 cars], it will be an issue. But I think with the hybrids we will be fine.”
The new powertrain is expected to see a twin-turbo V8 engine with around 660bhp complemented by a plug-in hybrid system offering an electric operating range of around 30 miles. The SUV would have four-wheel drive.
The car’s look could be captured in the video below, a rendering published by German car magazine, Auto Bild, renowned for securing scoops of still-secret cars, much to the annoyance of car manufacturers.
Ferrari is scrambling to catch up with Bentley, Lamborghini and even Land Rover, which all offer high-performance luxury SUVs with a six-figure price tag. And Rolls-Royce is putting the finishing touches to its Cullinan lux-roader.
Meanwhile, Porsche has seen its fortunes soar on the back of the successful Cayenne and, more recently, Macan SUVs.
Earlier this year, Marchionne said that the new Ferrari SUV would “…look like whatever a Ferrari utility vehicle needs to look like. But it has to drive like a Ferrari.”