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In the Spotlight - Ferrari 458 Italia {{favouriteCount}} Quantity of Likes

16 Feb 2018

You don’t need me to tell you that the Ferrari 458 Italia is a brilliant supercar. But the thing that makes it stand out head and shoulders above the competition is the little red-topped beauty sitting behind the driver and passenger – that 4.5 litre, naturally aspirated V8. Sure, it produces an impressive 562hp but that doesn’t tell the whole story – this V8 has a flat-plane crank and revs to an insane 9000rpm. We all went gaga over the latest GT3 revving to 9k but the 458 was doing it years earlier with more cylinders! The fact that the engine is incredible should come as no surprise; it won International Engine of the Year in 2011 in two categories. It has a lovely V8 snarl when it starts with a blare of revs, followed by a delicious eight-cylinder burble on the over-run. But its once you get above 6000rpm that it really begins to sing – a soaring crescendo of delicious Italian music that honestly had Christian and I on the verge of tears when we were driving it, you feel every vibration deep in your chest, the way the exhaust screams and reverberates through your internal organs. It’s such a truly incredible powerplant, especially when linked to that telepathic dual clutch gearbox that shifts before you’ve even finished flicking the paddle. You may think that’s all hyperbole but it had been about 5yrs since I drove a 458 and I had completely forgotten how truly amazing a driving experience the 458 Italia is.

But of course the engine is only one aspect of the 458’s greatness – there’s the steering and handling which are just of the highest level of communication and control in every way. The steering is very sharp – some say a little too sharp but you just need to be ‘in tune’ with how lively it can get, while the suspension is just on the right side of firm with great damping and a nice amount of wheel travel to deal with our appalling roads. To think that the 458 Speciale is meant to be faster, more precise, basically everything the Italia is pus another 30% is absolutely mind-blowing, but that’s why they’re £350k I suppose!

Of course we can’t forget about the looks; some say of equal importance to the powertrain in a supercar, and the 458 is again spot on here. The 488 looks a little ungainly to my eyes, with slightly odd proportions around the rear wings, but by comparison the 458 is svelte, sleek and beautiful, especially in the vibrant triple-layer yellow that the car we drove was painted in. When it first came out I wasn’t overly blown away if I’m honest, but time has revealed (to me at least) a truly beautiful shape. The way there are very few visual aerodynamic accoutrements helps a lot, but if you look closely you can see the intakes are all over, just hidden within the bodywork and styling lines. The interior is a lovely place to sit too, with everything focused at the driver, though to me you need to have the carbon interior pack ass it lifts it and adds a real race-car feel to it, the standard silver plastic just looks cheap by comparison.

Now as this is second hand we must talk about value for money too here, because the 458 may be the same price as a new McLaren 570S, but the 458 prices are actually going up, probably thanks to them being so pretty and the last naturally aspirated V8 Ferrari. If you buy a new 570S you’ll likely lose a chunk of money straight away. I’ve driven new McLarens like the 570S as well, and though deeply impressive it took a drive in the 458 to remind me just how important the engine is in a supercar. The 458 could look like it was drawn by Picasso and drive like a bag of spanners, but if it still had that glorious V8 singing away behind me I wouldn’t care one little bit…

Now I couldn't talk about how good the 458 Italia sounds without letting you hear it, so I have of course linked to a video review. This is 8yrs old now, but you certainly get a lot of info and to hear that V8 sing. Interesting footnote: this video is presented by Jamie Costorphine who was obviously working for Autocar at the time, but he is now the Global Marketing Director for McLaren Automotive!

You can only get tickets for the 458 Italia until midnight on Sunday, so get them while you still can by heading here. Good luck!

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