PPERFORMANCE CAR MAGAZINES are a relatively new genre and the publication you hold in your hands is barely four years old, four years since we changed the traditional narrative of Indian automotive magazines by placing The Thrill of Driving front and centre of everything that we do. Supercars on the cover; fast cars driven very sideways; hatchbacks rated for fun-to-drive rather than fuel efficiency; people though we were mad but we knew there were enough of you who wanted a magazine to indulge your automotive dreams and passions. It's the same formula that gave birth to evo two decades ago, a magazine that is now firmly established as the world's best automotive enthusiast title with 17 editions across the globe. So it should come as no surprise that evo's journey began with Ferraris, specifically the F355 Berlinetta that was part of the inaugural evo Car of the Year held late in 1998. However, the first all-new Ferrari under our watch was the 360 Modena.
Looking back, the 360 was a radical car for Ferrari: the first with an aluminium chassis and body, the first where aerodynamics were a major influence and the first to deliver genuine usability. If we’re being harsh, it was also the moment Ferraris ceased to be classically beautiful, but then the F355 was a tough act to follow.
The 360 was bigger than its predecessor, which masked the weight benefits of aluminium. Fortunately the larger motor (up from 3.5 to 3.6 litres) had increased power, from 374 to 394bhp, and a fatter spread of torque. It also had a drive-by-wire throttle, second-gen F1 paddleshift as an option and faster steering – an indication of the role technology would play in Ferrari’s quest for ultra-responsive dynamics.
Of course, there was a subsequent Spider version (in which we retraced the Mille Miglia route), but the 360 would also be the spark for a more explicit and exciting breed of track-biased Ferrari, the first of which being the delectable 360 Challenge Stradale.
This would serve as a blueprint for faster, fiercer creatures to come, its simple recipe of less weight (110kg lighter than the regular Modena and just 20kg more than the Challenge race car), wider rubber, lower, firmer suspension, a faster gearshift and a more potent engine focusing the performance of Ferrari’s mid-engined V8 model as never before.