Technologically the 360 heralded the beginning of a new approach to car design at Ferrari. Modern, lightweight and sophisticated, it featured the company’s first aluminium monocoque, which was 40 per cent lighter than the 355’s steel platform but also nearly 30 per cent stiffer, despite being slightly larger.
The Modena also saw a new word introduced into Ferrari reviews: reliability. The engineering had been more thoroughly thought through, and this was (and still is) reflected in lower servicing costs than for earlier mid-engined Ferraris. You still need relatively deep pockets to buy a 360 though and you also need to buy with your eyes wide open. But find a good one and you’ll soon see that all of the rave reviews that the 360 received when it was current, were well and truly deserved.
Compared with the F355, the 360 Modena was lighter, stiffer, more powerful, more roomy, better built, featured a muchimproved F1 transmission. The engine was now more flexible, the brakes and suspension were better – no wonder it went down so well with everyone who reviewed it.
Ferrari improved the F1 gearbox with electronics that automatically adjusted the throttle opening when it sensed the driver changing up or down the gearbox.
This helped smooth out some of the jerkiness of the previous 355’s set-up, and in the Challenge Stradale things were even better, with quicker gearchanges. The CS came with Sport and Race settings for the traction control, the Sport setting raising the limit at which the traction control would intervene and the Race mode turning it off altogether. Race mode also gives a Launch Control function.
Modena and Spider editions also came with Continuous Damper Control (CDC), developed by Sachs. The automated system took inputs from the steering, throttle, braking, acceleration and speed to adjust the settings for the dampers. Working in conjunction with the ASR traction control, the CDC offers the driver a choice of Normal or Sport modes, altering how much the traction control intervenes. It can also be switched off. Sport mode also firms up the dampers.
When Evo magazine first tested the 360 in 1999, it was blown away by what an advance it was over the F355: “Don’t be fooled by the Modena’s soft lines, its space, refinement and easy-going nature around town: just below the surface is a hardedged supercar. It’s implicit in the directness of the steering, the bite of the brakes, and especially in the sharpness of the throttle response. Even with a light dab, it feels much more eager than a 355. Initial impressions of the chassis are that it’s a little firmer, and that the nose feels lighter.”
As the 360 was being launched, the Porsche 911 hadn’t long beaten the F355 in Evo’s Car of the Year, so the ease with which the new Ferrari beat the contemporary Porsche was something that took everyone by surprise: “The 360 humbles the 911. That’s no great surprise considering it costs £40,000 more, but consider also that the 911 was good enough to see off the F355. The 355 had begun to feel a bit overpriced at close to £100,000 but, at just a couple of thousand more, the 360 feels worth every penny. That’s an apposite measure of how much more accomplished the 360 is.
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