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Novitec 430 Race review (2008 onwards)
Image © Nick Hall/Microsoft
What: Novitec 430 RaceWhere: Stetten, GermanyPrice: £250,000Availability: nowKey rivals: Lamborghini Murcielago, Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano
With the addition of two superchargers, Novitec has given the 430 Enzo power and created what could be the ultimate Ferrari.
Likes: one of the fastest cars on the road with race car handling and complete comfortDislikes: everyone will hate you - a Ferrari is bad enough, a souped-up one will have the neighbours spitting feathers
I don't remember anyone accusing the Ferrari 430 of lacking a bit in the oomph stakes. But there are a few hardy souls in the world who can never have too much power and for them Novitec has stepped in with the 430 Race.Strapping not one but two superchargers to the 4.3 litre V8 has resulted in a 707bhp monster. Does the world need such a car? Maybe not, but the 25 people that will buy complete Novitec conversions this year aren't governed by such grubby concerns as need; desire is all it takes.With the supercharger singing in unison with the pulsating V8 and the speedo racing unerringly towards and then through the 180mph mark, this car made sense at any price - even in white.
Utterly devastating, which is to be expected from a 1,400kg car with more power than the Ferrari Enzo. It smashes through 60mph in 3.5s and will now scorch to 216mph with a clear, inviting Autobahn ahead.More impressive than the numbers, though, is the way that power is seamlessly delivered. This number of horses normally lies within the confines of an ill-disguised race car with number plates, but not here. The Novitec remains as driveable as the 430 that left Maranello's gates. It's just much, much quicker.On the express instruction of Novitec's Dirk Moersdorf, as a truck pulled in from the fast lane in the middle distance, I dropped a cog on the gears and floored it. A few breathless seconds later and the truck flashed past the window as the Novitec simply failed to run out of steam.Even a Ferrari starts to flag on the dark side of 150mph. This one won't and by that time it would be a speck in the middle distance in any case. It's that fast, it's that good.
Ride and handling
Pushed 50% of the way to its limits - all we could really manage without a hefty jail sentence - the 430 Race sticks to the road like burnt pasta on the pan. As well as beefing up anti-rollbars and fitting lighter wheels, Novitec dropped the already ground scraping Ferrari a full 40mm.That should be a recipe for clattered out fillings and spinal injuries on anything but a marble smooth race track. But Ferrari owners simply wouldn't accept that so Novitec developed a system that somehow soaks up the bumps just as well as the original, despite being so low that the car needs a lifter mechanism to lift the front end 30mm to stop the splitter smashing into expensive shards on a speed bump.
The Novitec surprises with its civility as much as its devilish speed, handling several towns, the petrol station and a cross country jaunt through the rolling hills of southern Germany with consummate ease. You can even turn the exhaust down by flicking the Mannetino switch to its most controlled setting.In the bends, though, it's every bit as good as you'd think, and then some. It will comfortably take more speed into bends without the slightest hint of a wiggle. When the limit arrives you'd have to be a bit handy to catch it, but the speeds on the clock constantly defied belief as the white nose clung on to the apex time and again.The 430 was always more fun than the bigger 599 in bends thanks to the way you can throw it in to the corner. The Novitec keeps the character intact at much higher speeds, which makes it perhaps the ultimate Ferrari.
Novitec has a long tradition of producing stunning interiors and a previous visit to the factory saw them decking out a near lime green car with ostrich skin and Alcantara. If you have the money they can do anything, but for the demonstrator they decided to dress the engine bay with carbonfibre and limit themselves to a few finishing touches in the cabin.That included a sports steering wheel dressed in carbonfibre and, almost invisibly, an extension to the centre console to create a pocket for keys and change. Aside from that it's standard Ferrari fare, with plasticky vent detailing and toggle switches with the structural integrity of yesterday's breakfast egg. It's still a Ferrari, though, so you still would...
Economy and safety
Think of this as an antisocial environment killer and you're missing the point. It is not a first car, or perhaps even a second. It is a thing of beauty to be taken out and enjoyed. It's a special occasion car. So although the fuel consumption makes for painful reading, every drop of fuel will provide a moment of wonder. For those with deep enough pockets, that's enough.And despite the power, the 430 Race makes full use of Ferrari's arsenal of electronics, including the e-diff system that enables a muppet to lap Fiorano just off the pace of the firm's regular test drivers.That Mannetino switch is still fully functional and goes from icy conditions through to full race mode that lets the back end hang out without any of the requisite driving skills. And with the lower suspension this car comes with more grip than gravity, so you'd have to try to pitch this thing off the road.
Spending £250,000 on a Ferrari F430 technically makes less sense than Pete Doherty's celebrity status - the 599 is pretty much as fast and cheaper. It's a niche market and an impulse buy. But the Novitec is exclusive and a magnificent piece of engineering. They're making a Scuderia version, too, so we're going back...
Performance: *****Ride & Handling *****Interior: ***Safety: *****Price: **Practicality: ****MSN Cars Verdict: *****
Need to know:Power (bhp): 707
Torque (lb/ft): 535
Top speed: 216mph
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