More power and pace, less weight and extra helpings of oversteer – here comes the Ferrari 458 Speciale. Regular customers will be reaching for their bank cards and road testers will be jockeying for a test drive of the extreme 458, because Ferrari has taken the most thrilling mid-engined car on the planet and turned the volume up to 11.
The 458 Speciale follows in the smokin’ tyre tracks of the 360 Challenge Stradale and 430 Scuderia, in being the maximum attack version of Ferrari’s current mid-engined V8 berlinetta. Ferrari has shaved 90kg from the regular 458’s 1380kg dry weight (though both cars are heavier with fluids), and extracted a further 35bhp from the naturally aspirated 4.5-litre engine. So at a stratospheric 9000rpm, 597bhp is unleashed (though peak torque remains the same at 398lb ft). The upshot is 463bhp per tonne. Enough to have most supercars quaking; crucially to Ferrari, it edges the 458 Speciale ahead of the McLaren 12C's 459bhp per tonne.
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More power, less weight – what’ll it do, signor?
Up ‘til now, Ferrari has been a little coy about the 458 Italia’s 0-62mph sprint, stating it’s ‘sub-3.4sec’. It isn’t being so vague about the Speciale’s acceleration time, quoting 3.0sec dead: 0.1sec faster than a McLaren 12C. You’ll be doing 124mph in 9.1sec, if you keep your foot in. Ferrari also quotes a 1 minute 23.5 second lap time at its Fiorano track – that’s 1.5sec quicker than a 430 Scuderia. By our calculations, only the new F12 and the forthcoming LaFerrari hybrid supercar are quicker. And the 458 Speciale can pull more lateral g (1.33, if you’re asking) than the mighty F12 with its 730bhp V12 in the nose.
Vents, diffuser – she looks quite distinctive…
Ferrari claims it is blooding significant new aerodynamic features on the 458 Speciale, to ensure balanced downforce and to reduce drag. There’s a new rear diffuser, which means the regular car’s central triple tailpipes must be sacrificed. New enlarged vents up front and at the rear enhance cooling and manage airflow, and the bonnet and sills are reprofiled.
The 458 Speciale also introduces a new electronic feature, Side Slip Angle Control. Thanks to the development of a new algorithm, SSC can monitor the car’s slip angle like never before, optimising the flow of torque across the rear axle via the electronic differential, to maintain a slide and prevent the driver overcooking it. Ferrari, you have a wicked sense of fun.
The 458 Speciale will be unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2013, with production starting soon after. No word yet on prices but expect a chunky price rise over the £178k 458 Italia coupe. Back in 2007, the Scuderia cost £28,000 more than the regular 430. Punters and road testers may think it’s worth every penny, because this Ferrari promises to be very Speciale indeed.