June 15, 2006

The Axis reviews the Ferrari 360 F1 Modena

(Posting for CG, because he's busy with a new baby....)

Just amazing!!!

I was really expecting the car to be great but by no means match the everyday usability of my 997 Carrera S. To my surprise it is really an everyday Supercar! Despite being already 6 years old” it didn'’t miss a beat through all the 2800km Axis Gumball.

The 360 Modena is a grown-up steroid pumped Elise. It is as communicative and provides humongous levels of feedback (sometimes too much in the wet to inhibit confidence!) but with huge V8 torque. The car is setup for no nonsense performance: how about 4000rpm 80mph cruising in 6th gear? That's no compromise gear ratios!

The sound is intoxicating and you wish there was a 500mi tunnel to drive it through. Visibility is superb and you are not aware you are driving a very wide supercar as it clearly lets you know were all the corners are (at least going forward, reversing is another story as in the Elise). Even boot space is superb and larger than in a 997.

In the wet you can spin the rear wheels in 3rd and 4th....scary. Turn in is telepathic and you feel the lack of rotational inertia of the mid engine layout. Despite revving to 8500rpm+, you have huge torque way down and the OEM lightweight flywheel delivers instant response (I guess that'’s why Ferraris have 1100rpm idle and shut down instantly).

The performance is just fantastic, much faster than a regular Carrera S and a better more balanced drive than a GT3. However it is twitchy and extremely willing to react to driver input or road surface changes. Definitively not a car for novices!

In the rain, you definitively feel the need for some runoff to push the car hard, but in the dry, any correction uses less road and it can be driven just like the Elise but with a loud pedal that haas twice the torque linked to it.
The only are where I noticed the car was "dated"” was in the shift speeds of the Ferrari F1 transmission. Being from 2000 it meant that shift speeds were slow compared to BMW'’s SMG II. Also, now after trying both systems, I do prefer my paddles attached to the steering wheel (Ferrari take notice, so that I have an excuse to buy one in the future).
Can't imagine how un-earthy magnificent would a F430 be.….. Can't wait to deserve one! (Check back for bank account details for donations!).

AC adds:

I also have to write a little something about the Ferrari stability control: well I heard there is one on the car anyway! The 360 has a totally Axis approved click switch which allows the car to be left in sport mode if so desired, no fiddling about with switches every time you turn on the ignition. Very cool, no lawyers were involved in the design!
Now in sports mode the Ferrari ASR (their letter soup for DSC...) is a fully oversteerable system... In the rain we were with a yaw angle of at least 30 degrees without the light flickering or feeling any nannies whatsoever. I suspect it is speed based, in the wet we were going relatively slow so I'm guessing the system allows more slip at slower speeds. When at one point during the day I found a bit of dry pavement at the Ring and pushed a little bit into a I did see the light flicker...once!
Again this points to a non novice friendly car although in regular mode the nanny mode is pretty quick to step in at the onset of wheelspin.
If I had to fault the 360 it would be that I think the stock brake pads are mediocre, I know they would fade quite quickly on a dry day, but that's a very, very simple fix.
I join CG in wondering what a phenomenal car an F430 must be: all the 360 plus more power and improved handling.

Finally, I think we both will be eternally grateful to my father for letting these two grinning petrolhead fools borrow the car!

P.S. The photos are from Marc Weichert at MW-Sportfoto.de I'm still trying to figure out how to buy them since Marc insists on a bank transfer rather than credit cards....easier said than done from the USA! but I'll figure it out eventually. Nice shots Marc.

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