NOVITEC ROSSO F430
Ian Kuah gets behind the wheel of a very special Ferrari
Right now, Ferrari's F430 is one of the most desirable cars on the planet. Although it represents a significant hike in price over the F360, its driving dynamics are so superior that anyone doing a back-to-back would immediately sign off the extra cash.
That certainly begs the question of why would you want to modify this near perfect machine? The answer depends on your attitude to life. In our experience, there are some people who simply cannot abide by having the same car as their equally wealthy neighbours or friends at the golf club. The more money they have the greater is their urge to be different.
There are two ways to be distinctive when you modify cars - subtle and bling. One thing we like about Novitec Rosso designs is that they are subtle. Unlike the tuner parts that some companies bolted to unsuspecting Ferraris in the 1980s and '90s, the aerodynamic components from this company are designed to integrate with the styling of the car rather than stand out like a sore thumb.
Made from the highest quality materials, usually carbon-fibre, these parts are not merely for show. They reduce weight, and with careful attention paid to their effect in wind tunnel tests, enhance stability at speed. While using this light and immensely strong composite material is expensive, it is certainly worth the investment on cars of this calibre.
The new parts consist of a front air splitter fitted below the factory nose section, skirts for the rear of the side sills and a new rear undertray to enhance the ground effects of the factory flat bottom and central venturi. The finishing touch is the rear wing, and all these parts can either be left in black carbon or painted to match the bodywork.
To fill out the wheelarches, Novitec Rosso uses 9J x 19-inch alloys in front and 12.5J x 20-inch at the rear, shod with 255/30ZR19 and 345/25ZR20 Pirelli P Zero Rosso rubber.
The uprated brake system can be clearly seen through the spokes of these attractive wheels. Made for Novitec Rosso by Brembo, this brake upgrade consists of massive 380mm ceramic discs at each corner with eight-pot callipers in front and four-pots at the rear. The ceramic discs save a total of 20.5kg over the equivalent brakes in steel.
This adds a pair of flow-optimised carbon-fibre air boxes with free-flow air-cleaners on the intake side, while at the other end of the motor the gorgeous looking and sounding stainless-steel exhaust system with 100 cell metal catalysts to reduce back-pressure sucks the spent gases out faster.
In the overall scheme of things, an increase of 30bhp is not going to shift the earth on its axis, but in combination with the changes to the suspension and brakes, hones the F430 into an even sharper tool for carving up a challenging road.
On the Road
Out of the box, the F430 has a crisp turn-in with a perfect relationship between steering and chassis and none of the nervous feeling of the F360. The lower ride height, larger anti-roll bars and wider rubber deliver an even more racecar-like feel to the car in the turns, with even less roll. It feels like a giant go-kart, but one endowed with substantial power and an amazing soundtrack.
We like the noise that the stock F430 makes, but the Novitec Rosso car is even more of an aural treat. With the V8 orchestra playing tunes just behind your head, you can make out the deeper roar of the new intake system as the motor spools up through the gears. The exhaust note also deepens, underpinning the thrashing of the timing chains as the flat-plane crank V8 gets into its stride.
This high-revving motor quickly moves its voice up a few octaves as the tacho needle swings past the 4,000rpm mark, and soon it is screaming like a muted Formula 1 car as it approaches its crescendo in each gear. Each upshift is over like lightening as we flick the well-sorted F1 paddle-shift to find the next higher ratio. Instantaneously, the singing wall of sound picks up where it left off.
When you are approaching a corner at full noise and the time comes to bottle out, braking is simply phenomenal. Were not for the excellent anti-lock system, the car would likely dig two holes in the tarmac under full retardation. This is real brick wall stuff.
The Novitec Rosso F430 F1 experience really comes together when you get into a smooth rhythm on a twisty road. Rather than keeping the throttle nailed in Race mode and receiving a manic jerk each time the 'box upshifts, we ease back on the throttle in anticipation of the upshift and take the sting out of the gear selection. The bigger lungs on the intake side and the freer-flowing exhaust help the engine rev even faster. So while the extra horsepower is partly consumed by the wider rubber, the car feels sharper to respond and even keener to rev.
The steering feel maintains the purity of the stock F430 and its excellent overall balance is unaffected. But mechanical grip is now on another level thanks to the wider rubber and lower centre of gravity and we would not be surprised if lateral acceleration is not in the order of 1.1g to 1.2g.
Novitec Rosso believes that the cockpit of a Ferrari should be luxurious in an austere sportscar way, so while the seats are replaced with lightweight carbon-fibre items that weight just 7kg each, they are also carefully trimmed in leather and two-tone Alcantara to match the rest of the cabin. Trim inserts are carbon fibre.
The Novitec Rosso F430 is a very complete car. Although you can buy the individual components or just have the interior trimmed like the test car, we liked the sum total of the sometimes small but always significant changes that make this car visually more distinctive, dynamically more incisive and an even more desirable Ferrari.