Ferrari 458 Italia | New Ferrari | Ferrari 458

Published: 28 July 2009

The new Ferrari 458 Italia berlinetta is unveiled today. The successor to the F430, the 458 Italia is the new entry-level V8 in Ferrari’s range – but it’s hardly the weakling of the pack.

The 458 Italia’s mid-mounted 4499cc V8 has a flat-plane crank and direct injection to muster 562bhp at a stratospheric 9000rpm. Torque stands at 398lb ft at a high 6000rpm (although 80% of that is on tap from 3250rpm), confirming the high-revving, ballistic power bias of the new Ferrari V8. It’s the highest specific output engine in Ferrari’s roadgoing history, at 125bhp per litre.

But it won’t be an all-or-nothing sports car; the Italia has a quarter more torque than the 430 Scuderia. Ferrari has paid plenty of attention on reducing internal friction in the enlarged V8 and, combined with an aluminium kerbweight of 1380kg, it helps liberate more performance and economy.

Ferrari 458 Italia: launch at Frankfurt 2009

We’ll see the new Ferrari coupé at the Frankfurt motor show in autumn 2009 when the full technical story will be announced. And there will be plenty of technical information on the 458 Italia – which is as big a techfest as you’d expect of a new Ferrari.

The transmission is a dual-clutch affair like on the California. Drive is sent through seven forward ratios and back to the rear wheels. Pilots can, naturally, tweak the gearbox and stability systems through a mannetino. Although no interior photographs have been issued yet, Ferrari says the driving position is inspired by its F1 grand prix racers – and one Michael Schumacher helped develop the cockpit ergonomics.

Aero special: the new Ferrari V8

Remember the Mille Chili? That Ferrari concept car was a line in the sand for Maranello – a signal that its future sports cars would do their bit to be green. Relatively speaking, of course.

So while the new 458 Italia has no hybrids or batteries in sight, it does have some very clever engineering solutions. The underside is completely flat and there are small ‘aeroelastic winglets’ on the nose to generate downforce; as speed rises, they deform to reduce the section of the radiator inlets and cut drag.

Yet there are remarkably few spoilers or accoutrements to ruin the Italia’s lines. Ferrari says that at 200kph (124mph) the 458 generates 140kg of downforce.

Direct injection and tall gearing in the twin-clutch ‘box means the 458 uses less fuel than a 430 Scuderia – averaging 21mpg with CO2 emissions of 320g/km. Not bad for a car capable of 202mph+ and 0-62mph in less than 3.4 seconds.

It’ll brake nearly as violently, hauling down from 62mph in just 32.5 metres. The E-Diff and F1-Trac are now controlled by the same ECU and Ferrari claims the 458 produces a third more longitudinal acceleration than the outgoing 430.

Who designed the Ferrari 458 Italia?

Pinfinfarina did the design, which we find reminscent of the Mille Chili and there are echoes of design studies by the Royal College of Art a couple of years back. The interior design is by Ferrari’s design chief Donato Coco; it’s said to include ‘a new layout and a revolutionary ergonomic interface where the main controls are all clustered on the steering wheel’.

And check out those triple exhaust pipes at the rear. We can’t wait to hear the V8 wail that erupts from them – first drives are penciled in for winter 2009-10.

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Tech spec of the new Ferrari 458 Italia

• Engine V8 90deg
• Displacement 4499cc
• Compression ratio 12.5:1
• Power 562bhp @ 9000rpm
• Torque 398lb ft @ 6000rpm
• Specific power 125bhp per litre

• Top speed ‘In excess of 202mph’
• 0-62mph ‘Under 3.4 seconds’
• Combined economy
• CO2 emissions 320g/km

• Suspension
Twin front wishbones, multi-link rear axle
• Front tyres 235/35 ZR20
• Rear tyres 295/35 ZR20

• Dry weight 1380kg
• Construction Aluminium
• Weight distribution 42% – 58% front–rear
• Length/width/height 4527mm/1937mm/1213mm
• Wheelbase 2650mm

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet