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Dino Lives: Ferrari CEO Confirms Interest in Smaller V-6 Model

Knowing the rumors swirling that Ferrari is working on a “new Dino,” a mid-engined V-6 sports car, we sought clarification from CEO Amadeo Felisa at the Frankfurt auto show.

“There is probably a V-6 in our future.” So would it be a smaller car? He grins. “You wouldn’t do a bigger one with a V-6.” These remarks were in the context of the new 488 Spider, which he pointed out is the result of an “incredible evolution of power and performance” with lower consumption and emissions.

“For sure we will have to downsize displacement again in the future.”

And not, he says, through hybrids. At least not for several years on the “mainstream” models. The LaFerrari program was difficult and costly in order to achieve weight targets.

“Anyway we have a fuel consumption derogation up to 2019 which we can meet without hybrid.” Felisa also said that as long as Ferrari’s CO2 emissions are in a downward trend, the U.S. regulators are willing to give his firm CAFE exemptions. “They understand we are a drop in the ocean.”

Which means the Dino isn’t being produced simply to help meet CAFE. It has to be a profitable model. Felisa repeated that no Ferrari would be “cheap” — the current California T represents the base.

Even so, this would leave room for a V-6 mid-engined car to undercut the 488. We spoke in more detail to a Ferrari engineer, who declined to be named, about the V-6 and the car it would go into. He says the car is in pre-development (mule cars have been spotted near the Ferrari HQ in cut-down 488 bodywork). But it is not yet definitely in the production development phase, our source says.

He said that the target for the engine is an astonishing 200 horsepower per liter. But that places huge stresses on the engine components and they are still working on the right materials to do this. The engine is derived from the 488’s V-8, but he said it will require some clever new solutions because that engine has a flat-plane crank for better breathing, and that sets up bad vibrations in a V-6.

The Ferrari 488's new twin-turbo 3.9-liter V-8

The 488 engine is a 3.9-liter. If we speculate removing two cylinders’ worth of that displacement, we get to just over 2.9 liters. At 200 hp per liter, that’s 580 hp, within a whisker of McLaren’s new 570S.

A smaller car than the 488 would also be lighter, as well as having a lighter engine. Our engineer mentioned approaching 1,000 kg (2,200 pounds) but acknowledged that was wishful thinking. Even so, it would substantially undercut the V-8 car.

Might any new Ferrari have a manual transmission option? Sales and Marketing Director Nicola Boari says “The last Ferrari with a manual option was the California. We sold three units. Yes, manual Ferraris are more expensive secondhand, but only because they are rare. It’s not economic for us to do them new.”

Maybe there will be no transmission choice, but we can assume the “Dino” would be built both as a coupe and Spider. That’s because Ferrari has discovered that there is very little intersection between the two groups of buyers. Talking about the 488 Spider, Ferrari marketing executives say the Spider buyers tend to “share the experience” with a passenger while the coupe buyers are “egoists who drive alone.” This difference exists despite the fact that Ferrari CTO Michael Leiters says that if the Spider’s folding hardtop is closed, “there is no difference in technical performance” between Spider and GTB.