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Ferrari 458 Italia (2009) review

Published:05 November 2009

Ferrari 458 Italia by Greg Pajo. For more shots like this, buy the new December 2009 issue of CAR Magazine out 18 November
  • At a glance
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

Ferrari 458 italia video

Finding that Scuderia a bit spartan? Want the same kick but with a heap more refinement? The answer’s the replacement for the F430, the new 458 Italia. You can read the full story in CAR’s December 2009 issue out on 18 November:

Detailed nine-page 458 Italia first drive feature
Greg Pajo's beautiful photoshoot
Feel what it's like behind the wheel
On road and track

But for now, here’s a taste of what you’re in for if you’ve got around £160,000 spare.

Baby Enzo, anyone? The Ferrari 458 Italia’s a dead ringer!

Funny you should say that, because not only does the 458 bear a striking resemblance to the legendary supercar flagship, it can actually lap the Fiorano circuit in the same 1min 25sec. That’s the same as the stripped-out Scuderia by the way, and 2sec quicker than the F430 it replaces.
 
Impressive, but with the eco-conscious Mille Chili concept from 2007 fresh in my mind, I’m guessing that this thing weighs 1000kg and has a hybrid motor stuffed behind the seats?

Not exactly, but the 458 does employ some of the Mille Chili’s ideas, including active aerodynamics. Two fins located at either side of the front grille are designed to deform at speed, partially blocking off the grille needed to cool the front-mounted radiators at low speeds and directing the air around the car, reducing the drag co-efficient.

Other aero work has resulted in vents near the lights used to slow gas speed over the front wings, reducing lift and even using the high pressure built up in the rear wheelwells to cool the engine. Italy’s wind tunnels must’ve been kept busy for these past few years.

So if there’s no KERS system, what’s under the bonnet?

Something more conventional but still full of tech. There’s a naturally aspirated 4.5-litre dry-sumped V8 that revs to a stratospheric 9000rpm and delivers 562bhp, compared with 483bhp from the F430’s unrelated 4.3-litre motor. To save you scrabbling around for the calculator, that equates to a massive 127bhp per litre, a record for a naturally aspirated production car.

It shares its block, heads and direct-injection technology with the California but the front-engine car runs out of puff before 8000rpm, and delivers just 454bhp. Also shared is the seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox, although the 458 adds E-diff 3, the latest version of Ferrari’s electronic differential. And for the first time on a mainstream Ferrari, there’s no manual gearbox alternative.               

So what’s the 458 Italia like to drive?

Would you believe fast? Zero to 62mph takes ‘less than 3.4sec’ says Ferrari and it feels every bit as rapid. Eighty percent of the 400lb ft peak torque is available from 3250rpm and that’s exactly the point at which the 458 starts to feel seriously quick. Run it out to the redline and the noise is race-car fierce, and never abates because there are now no pauses between shifts.

The standard carbon brakes offer plenty of stopping power and more feel than rivals while the new, 30% quicker steering rack means mountain roads, and even gathering huge slides (see first image above – more pics like this in the next issue of CAR!), rarely involves more than a flick of the wrists. The 458 will slide, providing you’ve tweaked the steering wheel manettino to the appropriate position, but unless you provoke it, this Ferrari is always massively stable and has huge reserves of grip.

One for Sundays or something I could use every day?

Definitely an everyday supercar in the mould of the Audi R8. The ride comfort is excellent, visibility good, noise levels low, build quality leagues above the F430’s and that dual-clutch gearbox means the 458 is just as happy trickling through traffic as blasting around Fiorano.

Wherever you are you’ll feel like you’re piloting a spaceship thanks to the button-festooned steering wheel and twin TFT displays, one showing the status of the car’s major components and the other, audio and navigation duties.

Verdict

No doubt about it, this is the most rounded supercar you can currently buy and is likely to remain so until McLaren deploys the MP4 12C in 2011. Even then, the McLaren is going to have to be really good.

Is the 458 Italia really worth an estimated £60k more than an Audi R8 V10? Judging by the number of five-star ratings in our spec sheet, yes. If you can afford the Ferrari, it is the better car and we’d definitely recommend the premium. We’re just left wondering if the 458 is this good, how amazing is the next Scuderia going to be?

>> To read more about the Ferrari 458, don’t forget to buy the December 2009 issue of CAR for our detailed first drive feature. Out on 18 November

Specs

Price when new: £160,000
On sale in the UK: Spring 2010
Engine: 4499cc 32v V8, 562bhp @ 9000rpm, 398b ft @ 6000rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed Getrag twin-clutch auto, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 'Under 3.4sec' 0-62mph, 'over 202mph', 21.2mpg, 307g/km
Weight / material: 1485kg/aluminium
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4527/1937/1213mm

Rivals

Other Models

Photo Gallery

  • Farewell Ferrari F430, the new 458 Italia is here
  • How far has the 'junior' Ferrari V8 gone? It now exceeds 200mph and develops nearly 600bhp...
  • The great news is, the new Ferrari 458 Italia is, well, great
  • We've driven the new 458 Italia on road and track – it mixes the edginess of a 430 Scuderia with the comfort of an Audi. That's some achievement
  • Delphi helped developed 458 Italia's MagneRide suspension, Getrag the seven-speed gearbox. Carbon ceramic brakes by Brembo
  • The business end: cockpit of the Ferrari 458 Italia
  • Ferrari 458 Italia dashboard: the tacho is redlined at a dizzying 9000rpm, damper controls and mannetino settings all run by steering wheel controls

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

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