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First details: Ferrari’s new entry coupe

Super-coupe: F149 will join the F430 at the bottom of Ferrari's range.

Ferrari sources confirm a Paris motor show debut for Italy’s new accessible supercar

11 Mar 2008

DETAILS of a new entry-level super-coupe from Ferrari continue to emerge from Europe, and GoAuto sources have confirmed the ground-breaking new model will make its official public debut at the Paris motor show this September.

Codenamed the F149 but expected to introduce a new nameplate (California, Dino and Piccolina have all been speculated) when it hits Australian streets in mid-2009, the all-new Ferrari aims specifically to retain F430 owners who migrate to other brands such as Aston Martin, rather than move upstream to Ferrari’s far more expensive V12-engined offerings in the 612 Scaglietti and 599 GTB Fiorano, which start at $574,700 and $595,600 respectively.

In fact, Ferrari is rumoured to have targeted an F149 base price that is less than the F430, which at $416,850 is the least expensive Ferrari. It will be a key plank in Ferrari’s drive to produce 10,000 vehicles annually – up from more than 6000 currently, three-quarters of which consists of F430 sales.

Officially, Ferrari denies the car’s existence but factory insiders are quick to point out that its fourth model line will not be a new small Ferrari, but a front-engined two-plus-two-seater coupe to be positioned alongside the two-seater rear-engined F430, which attracts a much younger clientele than Ferrari’s circa-$600K models.

34 center imageLeft: Maserati GranTurismo.

The F149 is designed to appeal to “mature” drivers somewhere in between Ferrari’s V8 and V12 models.

As reported last week by AutoWeek.com, the F149 is expected to break new ground for Ferrari by featuring a direct-injection engine, mated to a new double-clutch transmission, and a folding steel hard-top roof, designed by Pininfarina, which will see it match the F430 coupe and Spider model for model.

AutoWeek’s reporter, Italy-based Australian Michael Taylor, said the F149 has been tested in and around Ferrari’s Maranello factory without attracting attention because it has been disguised as a Maserati GranTurismo convertible and rides on a heavily modified GranTurismo chassis.

However, just as the F149’s new V8, allegedly codenamed F136Y, evolves from the high-revving 4.3-litre V8 that powers the F430 (but with new injection rails, new intakes, new cylinder-heads, new valvetrains and a new type of throttle body), the GranTurismo architecture will be upgraded via a new multi-link rear suspension, among other new components.

According to Mr Taylor’s sources, Ferrari’s new 2+2 is based on the folding steel-roofed M139 Spyder concept developed by Pininfarina and Maserati and shown to Ferrari management in 2003, when Ferrari technically owned Maserati.

Maserati executives are apparently furious that the M139 project, which was killed by Ferrari in 2005 and was essentially a shorter-wheelbase, open-top version of the coupe concept that became the GranTurismo, forms the basis of Ferrari’s new F149.

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