Saturday 19 September 2009

Ferrari 458 Italia: The Best Just Got Better


The wait is finally over. Ferrari has unveiled the 458 Italia, one of the most anticipated debuts of the Frankfurt auto show, and it is stunning.

We’ll say this up front — we fell in love with this car the moment we saw the the pre-release photos and videos. The 458 is one hot car, and judging from the specs, a force to be reckoned with on the street.

The new 4,499 cc V8 engine produces 570 horsepower and 398 foot-pounds of torque. The F1-derived dual-clutch gearbox and superlight 3,042-pound dry weight (3.274 ready to drive) mean the 458 Italia shoots from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 3.4 seconds. Top speed is just a hair over 200 mph.

To read the specs, it seems the 458 can’t get any better. For starters, it has an ideal weight balance for a mid-engined sports car – 58 percent rear, 42 percent front. More F1-derived tech includes the electronic control system that Ferrari says guarantees optimal performance in all conditions. The new suspension, featuring twin wishbones with L-arms up front and a multilink setup out back, is tuned for maximum handling. The F430 is one of the best-handling cars on the planet, and the 458 promises to raise the standard.

For all the performance, the Ferrari emits a relatively low (for its class) 307 g/km of CO2. Fuel consumption is 13.3 liters per 100 kilometers on the Euro combined cycle, which by our count is roughly 17.1 mpg. Ferrari says it sets a new standard for the class, and that fuel economy figure is on par with the Nissan GT-R, Chevrolet Corvette and Audi S5, to name a few.

As if the Italia’s stunning looks aren’t enough, the bodywork up front also features small aeroelastic winglets which generate downforce and, as speed rises, deform to reduce the section of the radiator intake and cut drag. The drag and downforce numbers are as impressive as the looks: A Cd 0.33 for drag and Cl 0.36 for downforce. At 200 km/h the 458 puts out 140 kilograms of downforce and no less than 360 kilos at top speed.

Faster yet smoother changes are on tap with this latest iteration of the best gearbox on the planet. Thanks to two separate input shafts and a liberal dose of F1 tech, Ferrari says the gear shifting time is essentially zero and there is no interruption in power sent to the wheels. The new E-Diff gearbox is lighter and more compact than the unit found in the F430.

No price was announced at the Frankfurt debut, but whatever the bottom line is, we are sure it will be worth every penny.




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