The 2+2 1986 Ferrari Mondial is the ‘Ferrari for the family man.’ Now with a more powerful engine, how does it shape up? There is no need to search for the name. The silver horse, rearing up on its hind legs, simply says it all Ferrari. Park the car in a city street and watch just how many people pause to take a closer look at it. On the open road, and even if you are in no particular hurry, other drivers will make room for the car. And few drivers in GTi-badged hatchbacks will pit their cans against the 270bhp of thoroughbred Italian engineering.
The Mondial first appeared at the Geneva show six years ago, a 2+2 to complement the two-seater (then called the 308GTB). As with all the other current Ferraris, the Mondial has a tubular steel chassis and. like the 328, the body was designed by Pininfarina, although the cars are built at Ferrari's Modena factory.
The original 3-litre V8 engine had two valves per cylinder, but in 1982 the four-valve heads were fitted to make compliance with the US Federal emissions regulations easier. Last year, the capacity was raised to 3.2 litres and the power output increased to 270bhp at 7000rpm. The engine itself is a classic example of how to make a piece of engineering not only work efficiently and sound wonderful but also look the part. The red air intake plenum chamber, with its bright, machined fins, bears that evocative name — Ferrari.
Belt drives are used to the twin overhead camshafts, and the all-alloy block has wet cylinder liners. There is an oil cooler, with its own fan, located behind the air intake just ahead of the right-hand rear wheel. The water radiators, with twin electric fans, are at the front of the car, behind the three-slat grille.
TECHNICAL FOCUS Ferrari Mondial 3.2 QV
When the 2+2 Mondial first appeared at the 1980 Geneva Show, it was a car with the United States market very much in mind. At that time 35 per cent of Ferrari production went to the States, and the Mondial was designed to meet all forthcoming safety regulations which had just been announced.
1. tubular frame (accident damage),
2. A column below,
3 edge of the windscreen,
4 fuse box,
5 electric motor for headlight, hood
6, 7, windows, exhaust manifold
8, 9, synchronizer rings of the transmission,
11. Stand damage brake
12 Neglected maintenance
The initial engine size was 3-litre, the same as that in the 308GTB, but with Bosch K-Jetronic injection in place of the letter's Weber carburettors. Power output for that engine was 214 bhp at 6500 rpm. Two years later, the Mondial engine was given new cylinder heads, with four rather than two valves per cylinder — hence the qv for quattrovalvole. The power was then hiked to 240bhp. This increase was necessary to keep up with the amount of power being absorbed by the US Federal requirements on exhaust emissions.
The last change come at the 1985 Frankfurt Show. The capacity was increased to 3.2-litres, with a corresponding boost in power, up to 270 bhp. In addition to the 2+2 Coupe version, there is also a cabriolet model. Both cars are designed by Pininfarina, but built at Ferrari's Modena factory.
To anyone who is sitting behind the wheel of a Ferrari for the first time, the prospect of coping with all that potential power might seem a little daunting. But in practice the Mondial is an amazingly easy car to drive, thanks in no small way to the flexibility of that V8 engine and the curiously low gearing.
The Bosch K-Jetronic petrol injection gave first-time starting even when the engine was very hot after a long, high-speed run. Cold starting too, admittedly during some fairly warm weather, gave no problems. But until the gearbox had warmed up a little, it could be difficult to select second gear. The gearchange pattern follows the classic racing type with first (needed only for starting from a standstill) on its own down to the left and opposite reverse. The pencil-thin, chromium-plated gear lever, with a large, black spherical knob, working in a six-slot ted gate, is of a design which has hardly changed since the days of the legendary 250GTO.
Even the relatively 'unsporting' Mondial 2+2 turns hoods. Cooling air for the engine is ducted through inlets.
It does not take long to realise just how low-geared the Mondial is. Top gear pulls a mere 20.9mph/1000rpm. which means that the car can be trickled around in traffic in this gear, and then rocket up close to a glorious-sounding 7000rpm and 144mph.
Getting the Mondial off the line needed a little care. The fat Michelin 225/55VR16 Michelin TRX rear tyres are reluctant to spin, and unless the clutch is treated carefully the engine revs can be too easily killed. But once the technique has been mastered, the Mondial rockets away. It took just 2.6 secs to reach 30mph, with 60 coming up in 6.8 secs. 100 in 16.5 secs and 130 mph in 32.8 secs.
1986 Ferrari Mondial 3.2 QV test results
MAXIMUM SPEEDS AT TEST
The only slightly awkward movement of the gearchange is the dog-leg one from first to second. The others are simply a matter of moving the lever as quickly as you can. with quite a lot of effort needed to overcome the very powerful synchromesh. A look at the in-the-gears figures shows just what a broad power and torque spread this V8 engine has. The power just comes pouring in, without any of the unseemly, sudden rush which is a feature of so many high performance turbocharged engines.
ACCELERATION FROM REST
True a speed MPH
Time in sec
Car Speedo MPH
14.9 sec 95mph
27.4 sec 121mph
0.7 per cent over-reading
The rev counter, which reads to 10,000rpm, is red lined at 7600rpin, but on the test car the rev limiter cut in at 7400rpm. The rev counter also under-read by 7.5 per cent. With its low gearing, it did not take the Mondial any great time or distance to reach its top speed of 144mph, equivalent to 6900rpm, or within a whisker of the top of the power curve.
IN EACH GEAR mph
For anyone considering a car in the performance category of the Mondial, the cost of the fuel on which to run it will probably not appear very, high on the list of priorities. Anything over the 20 mpg mark is outstanding, but considering just how heavy the Mondial is, the 16.8 mpg we achieved is reasonably good. Much of the test mileage was covered at well over 100 mph, so under this country’s rather stricter overall speed limit, the average owner could expect to get consumption figures rather better than that.
The 19.8-gallon tank has its filler under an electrically controlled flap on the right-hand rear wing. If the electrics fail, a toggle reached from the engine bay can be used in an emergency. Even when the car is being driven hard, it can be expected to cover around 300 miles between refills, allowing for a couple of gallons in reserve. Ferrari's years of racing experience mean that the Mondial's tank can be filled very easily, without any blow back or bubbling. Over the relatively short test distance, the V8 engine used no measurable amount of oil.
It would be a soulless character who did not revel in the wonderful noise which the Mondial’s VS engine creates when hard at work. Yet even when the rev counter needle is well past the 7000 rpm mark, this wonderful piece of Italian engineering never sounds at all stressed. It was built to do just that sort of job.
Yet around town, the car is as docile as one could wish, the engine burbling softly. Its tractability also means that there is no need to go screaming up through the rev range when the traffic lights turn green. Wind noise is very well controlled, and even with the sunroof open, it is possible to carry on a conversation, albeit with raised voices.
There is some tyre noise, especially when the car is driven over coarse, concrete surfaces. But for a car of such high performance, the noise levels are generally very well controlled. In a world where practically every other car seems to be nose heavy, the Mondial comes as a refreshing surprise, with 55.1 per cent of its weight being carried over the rear wheels. The suspension follows classic lines — double wishbones front and rear, with coil springs and telescopic dampers. There are also anti-roll bars and rear.
To keep eye movement to a minimum, instruments are mounted high. Rear seat leg and headroom is suitable only for small adults or as additional luggage space. Central switchgear panel hoses ventilation / window control.
At low speeds, the rack and pinion steering can be quite heavy, especially when parking the Mondial in light spots. But as speed builds, the heaviness disappears, leaving the driver knowing exactly what the front wheels are doing. Three and a half turns are needed to get from lock to lock, and the turning circle is a rather stately 41 ½ ft. It is when the car is being driven on ordinary roads that the amount of bump steer can be felt, twitching the car slightly off line as it passes over manhole covers and other irregularities. This never amounts to anything serious, and the quickness of the steering makes this behaviour easily countered.
It is to the credit of Ferrari’s chassis engineers and the aerodynamicists at Pininfarina that the Mondial feels absolutely rock steady at 140 mph. with no need for any obvious air dams or spoilers.
The handling is virtually neutral, with perhaps a hint of understeer. With such a flexible engine, it is possible to move the rear wheels off line in a corner, but never suddenly. Despite its size, this is a very easy car to drive quickly. Ride quality is remarkably good, for one might expect over-stiff springing and rock-hard damping.
If there is criticism to be aimed at the braking system, it is that in town it can feel a little over sensitive, almost over-servoed. One soon gets used to being slightly feather-footed to prevent the car from being brought to an unseemly and snatchy halt. It takes only 20lb pedal pressure to achieve 0.36g — that is the sort of retardation on which passengers start to comment. And with just 30lb more pedal pressure, the car was brought up at 1.0g, with the fronts just starting to lock. With the majority of the car’s weight over the fat-section rear wheels, it is not surprising that the handbrake, located on the outside of the driving scat, recorded an impressive 0.41g.
As one might expect from a car in this class, the brakes coped with our accelerated fade tests extraordinarily well, hauling the speed down at 0.5g from 95mph 10 times in succession without any problems, apart from a slight smell at the sixth stop and a hint of vibration on the ninth.
AT THE WHEEL
There is certainly nothing, spartan or basic about the interior of the Mondial. Cream hand stitched leather is used on the scats, facia and door panels. The slim-rimmed steering wheel has three spokes, with the familiar prancing horse motif appearing on the boss.
The instrument panel is mounted quite high so that minimum vertical eye movement is needed to look from road to instruments and back again. The large speedometer — reading 6mph fast at 100 mph — is flanked by an impressive rev counter both with easy-to-road figures. Between these and the four smaller dials are the total and trip distance recorders, with a less than one per cent error, the smaller dials are for oil pressure and temperature, coolant temperature and fuel tank contents. The column levers follow a normal pattern, with a short one on the left for indicators. Behind this is the longer one for driving lamps. You cannot, incidentally, flash the Mondial’s headlamps without first putting them up. The pedals are offset toward the middle of the car.
On our left-hand drive test car, the gear lever, with its clearly marked gate, was to the left of the central console. On right-hand drive cars, it is moved to the right. Alongside the gear lever is a row of warning lamps covering such items as screen washer level, coolant level and stop lamp bulbs. Behind these there are the rocker switches for windows, and the locks for front and rear boot lids, engine cover, fuel filler flap and glove locker. This last seems a little unnecessary, as the amount of room provided behind the flap is minimal.
During the test period, we were driving in temperatures of over 27 deg C. But the Ferrari’s air conditioning, which is a standard fitting, was barely able to keep cabin temperatures comfortable, even on the coldest setting. This was the one really disappointing feature of the car which is well appointed in so many ways.
The Mondial is close to 6ft wide with the doors dosed, so you need a fairly generous amount of room around the car when they are open. In practice, the angle at which they open is a little restricted and this, combined with the rather high sills, makes entry and exit a little awkward. The front seats are a little on the hard side, and lack much lateral support, a shortcoming noticed particularly when the car was being driven fast on twisting roads.
Rear seat leg and headroom is distinctly on the marginal side — but the children would no doubt appreciate arriving at school in a Mondial. The armrest between the rear scats contains a first-aid kit and conceals the emergency release for the engine cover.
Where the Mondial really docs fall down is in the amount of room — or lack of it — for carrying odds and ends inside. The glove locker is practically useless and there are only small elasticated pockets on the doors for the handbook and a small map. The only place to stow cigarettes or sweets is in the small, slippery tray positioned alongside the gear lever.
The front ‘boot’ is not intended to carry much luggage. The brake servo, air conditioning accumulator and spare wheel take up much of the room. The spare is a 220/55 VR390 Michelin TRX front wheel, which can also be used over a limited range on the rear. The main boot is located behind the engine bay, and holds a reasonable amount of luggage for two people. Access around the engine is tight, but apart from some routine checking of oil and coolant levels, this is not the sort of car on which to indulge in too much DIY work.
It is not until you see someone sitting in the Mondial that you realise just how far forward the scats are located. This is turn means that visibility over that relatively long nose is quite good, making the car easy to place in crowded conditions. But care has to be taken when leaving angled side turnings, for there is a major blind spot created by the thick rear quarter pillars.
Much of the safety in cars like the Ferrari Mondial starts with the chassis. Give a car of this performance indifferent handling and roadholding and insufficient braking and you have a recipe for disaster. The Mondial’s chassis, braking and aerodynamics make it an inherently very stable and safe car. The tubular steel chassis provides immense strength combined with carefully calculated deformation characteristics.
Among the supercars the name Ferrari and the prancing horse badge still reign supreme, and even the relatively ‘unsporting’ 2+2 Mondial will turn heads wherever it goes. It is a car with few rivals, perhaps the closest being the Porsche 928S, which provides rather better accommodation and performance in a similar bracket to the Mondial.
Yet looked at in some lights, it is an odd car, with too-low gearing, and indifferent ventilation. Nevertheless, once you have experienced the wonderful noise produced by the V8 engine in full cry, and sat behind that steering wheel, with the power surging in, you can forgive the car for the few detractions it may have. They seem to pale into insignificance as the rev counter needle sweeps past the 7000 rpm mark and you slam that gear lever through the gate. It is a different world of motoring.
Competitors similar in speed performance and price
Not in the same performance class as the true supercars, but close to it 3nd practically preferable, with the perfection of what BMW is best at — the six-cylinder engine — in its ultimate 24-valve development in a comfortable, elegant, easy to see out-of coupe. Excellent steering and brakes combined with roadholding more predictable than usual for BMW.
De Tomaso Pantera GT5 S
Last of the American engined Italian 'supercars', with design dating back to 1970. Mid-mounted V8 Ford engine has capacity of 5.8 litres and is available in three stages of power from 270 to 300bhp. Safe, predictable handling, but steering rather heavy at low speeds. Massive ventilated discs give massive stopping power. Seating limited to two only.
Jaguar XJ-S HE
The XJ-S has always stood for effortless performance, the superbly-refined engine setting the car apart from any other on the road. For such a big beast, it is quite a nimble machine even round country lanes, thanks to responsive steering and vice less handling. Fuel consumption is a drawback. A manual gearbox would be a welcome addition.
Based on the design of the old Urraco Silhouette, the Jalpa is the 'baby' in the Lamborghini family. V8 3.5-litre engine is mounted transversely, driving the rear wheels. Weber carburettors are used, not fuel injection. Body is unitary construction, rather than tubular as with the Countach. Outstanding handling, with braking to match. Strictly a two-seater.
The flat-six, rear engine design of the Carrera has now become a classic. Performance, provided by the 231bhp, 3.2-litre, air-cooled engine, is outstanding. Ultimate handling, especially in the wet, can be a test for the inexperienced driver. Ride quality good, and brakes well able to handle the car's speed. May be called a 2+2, but space is strictly limited.
Lotus Esprit Turbo
If one can have such a thing, the Lotus is the efficient sub-supercar, providing near-140mph performance from one of the few acceptable turbo engines; excellent response and wide spread of smooth power belies 2.2-litre origin. Low weight and drag of Guigiaro body helps relatively good fuel consumption. Superb handling; poor vision.
DETAIL TECH DATA
1986 Ferrari Mondial 3.2 QV
Central engine, rear-wheel drive
Transverse mid V8, 90-deg
Water cooled, electric fan
Bore / Stroke
83.00mm (3.27 in.) 73.60mm (2.90in.)
3186 c.c. (194.50 cu. in.)
2 ohc, 4 valves per cylinder, toothed belt camshaft drive
9.8-to-1. Min. octane raring: 91RM
Bosch K-Jetronic continuous flow Injection
Marelli Microplex ignition
Bosch electric. roller type
Full-flow. disposable canister
270 bhp (PS-DIN) 199KW (ISO) at 7000 rpm
224 lb. ft (PS-DIN) at 5500 rpm
Single dry plate
5-speed, all-indirect, all-synchromesh
Geer ratios and mph/1000rpm
Top 0.919 / 20.90
Fourth 1.244 / 15.44
Third 1.693 / 11.35
Second 2.353 / 8.16
First 3.419 / 5.62
Hypoid bevel ratio 3.823
Mph at 1,000 rpm in top gear
CHASSIS AND BODY
Integral, with steel body
Cd drag coefficient
independent, wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar
independent, wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar
Make and type
Dual circuits, split diagonally. Front 11.1 in (282mm) dia ventilated discs. Rear 11 in (280mm) dia ventilated discs
Vacuum servo. Handbrake, side lover acting on rear discs
F, 11.1 in. dia
R. 11.0 in. dia
F. 235 sq. in.. R. 208 sq. in. Total 443 sq. in. (350 sq. In./ton Laden)
Our young news editor and expert test drives Gitter - a big fan of classic and vintage cars, a staunch supporter of the rear-wheel drive petrol atmospheric engines and mechanical transmissions. Owner classic BMW and Alfa Romeo, feels affection for retro car brands Jaguar and Aston Martin. Has higher technical education, is interested in the design and automotive painting.
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