The Ferrari 458 is one of the most beautiful Exotic cars ever made……………even today, five years after its last model was on the showroom floor in 2015. The Ferrari has always been my dream car from as early as I can remember. I absolutely love my Z06 and would put it up against any car out there from a performance stand point……………. however there is just something about a Ferrari………… What makes a car Exotic………. they will be expensive, rare, have high performance and be somewhat impractical. The 458 is all these things, though it actually has some practicality………which we will discuss a little later.
So Let’s take some time here and discuss one of my favorite exotic cars of all time and why I have included it in my exotic car reviews. The best part of writing this is post is that I get to daydream about how much fun it would be right now, to be experiencing this car with the top down on a sunny spring day flying through the twistys on a winding two lane mountain road.
A Little History
Ferrari produces about 8400 vehicles per year. There mid engine super cars like the 458 deliver about half of that production. The 458 was first introduced in 2009 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, with its first model year being 2010. It replaces the Ferrari F430 which has the distinction of being the last Ferrari with a manual transmission, In fact, if you can find a F430 with a manual transmission they are much more valuable today than a F430 with an automatic.
In keeping with Ferrari tradition, the body was designed by Pininfarina under the leadership of Donato Coco, the Ferrari design director.
The interior design of the Ferrari 458 Italia was done by Bertrand Rapatel (Director of Ferrari Interior Design), a French automobile designer.
The car’s exterior styling and features were designed for aerodynamic efficiency, producing downforce of 309 lb at 120 mph. The front grille features deformable winglets that lower at high speeds, in order to offer reduced drag. The car’s interior was designed using input from former Ferrari Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher; in a layout common to racing cars, the new steering wheel incorporates many controls normally located on the dashboard or on stalks, such as turning signals or high beams. There is a noticeable difference between the F430 steering wheel and that of the 458.
The 458 Spider was introduced at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. This convertible variant of the 458 Italia features an aluminum retractable hardtop which, according to Ferrari, weighs 55 lb less than a soft roof such as the one found on the Ferrari F430 Spider, and requires 14 seconds for operation. The engine cover has been redesigned to accommodate the retractable roof system. It has the same 0–62 mph acceleration time as the coupe but has a lower top speed of 199 mph due to the added weight.
The 458 Speciale was unveiled in 2013 at the Frankfurt Motor Show as the high performance variant of the 458 Italia. Distinctions of the Speciale over the standard 458 Italia are the forged wheels, vented bonnet, finned side sills, a taller rear spoiler and redesigned bumpers, which include active aerodynamics designed by Ferrari Styling Centre in cooperation with Pininfarina; front and rear movable flaps balance downforce and cut drag at speed.
The 458 Speciale A is the convertible variant of the 458 Speciale which was unveiled at the 2014 Frankfurt Motor Show. The ‘A’ stands for ‘Aperta’, which is Italian for ‘open’ – and the model was limited to only 499 examples (49 RHD examples).
The F136 V8 engine used in the 458
The 458 is powered by a 4,497 cc (4.5 L; 274.4 cu in) engine of the Ferrari F136 family, generating power of 562 hp at 9,000 rpm and 398 lb⋅ft of torque at 6,000 rpm with 80% of that torque available at 3,250 rpm. The engine features direct fuel injection, which was a first for Ferrari mid-engine setups in its road cars.
The only transmission available on the 458 is a dual-clutch 7-speed Getrag gearbox. There is no traditional manual option, making this the fourth road-car after the Enzo, Challenge Stradale and F430 Scuderia not to be offered with Ferrari’s classic gated manual. It was Ferrari’s first mainstream model not to offer a manual transmission.
The car’s suspension has double wishbones at the front and a multi-link setup at the rear, coupled with E-Diff and F1-Trac, traction control systems, designed to improve the car’s cornering and longitudinal acceleration by 32% when compared with its predecessors.
This is a really cool feature as the brakes include a prefill function whereby the pistons in the calipers move the pads into contact with the discs on lift off to minimize delay in the brakes being applied. This, combined with the ABS and standard Carbon Ceramic brakes, have caused a reduction in stopping distance from 62-0 mph to 107 ft. Tests have shown the car will stop from 62.1 mph in 90 feet or in 85 feet with run flat tires, 85 feet from 60 mph and 80 feet from 60 mph with run flat tires.
For the 458 Speciale introduced in 2013, the engine was revised, with power increased to 597 hp at 9,000 and 398 lb⋅ft of torque at 6,000 rpm. Electronic systems were updated too and side-slip angle control (SSC) was introduced to improve the cars control at the limit. SSC performs instant-to-instant analysis of the car’s side-slip, comparing it with the target value and then optimizing both torque management (via integration with F1-Trac traction control) and torque distribution between the two wheels (via integration with the E-Diff electronic differential). The Speciale accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 3.0 seconds and to120 mph in 9.1 seconds. Ferrari declared a Fiorano test track lap time of 1:23.5, only 0.5 seconds slower than the F12 Berlinetta. Lateral acceleration now reaches 1.33 g.
The 458 Speciale A, (the ‘A’ stands for ‘Aperta’, which is Italian for open)was introduced in 2014. The Aperta has the same 4.5-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine found in the 458 Speciale, which generates a power output of 597 hp and 398 lb⋅ft of torque. 0–62 mph takes 3.0 seconds and the Spider is capable of a top speed of 199 mph. It was the most powerful, street-legal, naturally aspirated Ferrari automobile the company had ever launched in a convertible variant, until it was surpassed by the 790 hp naturally aspirated V12 of the LaFerrari Aperta in 2017.
Comfort and Practicality
The Ferrari 458 is a comfortable car for two people. I have sat in an 458 and I have driven a F430 and I can tell you they are extremely nice and comfortable inside. The luggage space is a little snug at 8.1 cubic ft. This is almost half of what we had in the GT4 I wrote about which has 14.7 cubic ft and my own Corvette Z06. I have told you that I can easily get two carry on bags in the back of the Vette with plenty of room left over for other items such as the “shoe bag”. You would be hard-pressed to get two carry on’s in the 458. The good news is that Ferrari makes custom luggage for the 458 to maximize your space. Hey, if you’re buying a Ferrari you should be able to afford the Ferrari “custom luggage”.
The Ferrari 458 has been my dream car since it was introduced in 2009 as a 2010 model. For me, the 2015 Ferrari 458 Speciale A (spyder) would be my choice. The added power and the super cool slide-slip angle control (SSC) would be fun to experiment with. The fact that it is a convertible is awesome too. It is so nice to feel warmth of the sun, the wind in the air and the beautiful sound of the naturally aspirated Ferrari sound bounce off those mountain walls while flying through the twisties….Let’s go for a drive!!!
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Exotic Cars and Road Trips
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