Drivers Review: The Ferrari 458 Italia
The Ferrari 458 Italia, what needs to be said that isn’t already blatantly obvious? It is an amazing machine and you can tell just by looking at it. It is a Ferrari after all, but there’s much more to it than just being a fast looking car. It’s no secret that much of today’s production car technology stems from motorsport and the Ferrari 458 Italia has one hell of a racing history to pull from. Ferrari has one of the longest consistent racing histories of any manufacturer out there and certainly one of the most glittering in everything from production based sports car racing all the way up to Formula 1. That’s something that can’t be said for all supercar manufacturers *cough* Lamborghini.
Let’s start with a technical look at the car and the thought processes that went into it. Behind the driver is a small 4.5L V8 engine that revs to an astounding 9,000 rpm allowing it to produce 570 Italian horsepower. As you may recall, before Formula 1 switched to the current turbocharged vacuum-cleaner sounding engines they have now, the world fell in love with the sound F1 cars made from their small high revving V8s. Coincidence? I think not. Add to that a seven speed dual-clutch gearbox that shifts literally instantly and an electronic differential that actually works well and you have a powertrain that is just simply mind boggling.
Perhaps even more impressive is the amount of functional aerodynamics that were put into this car. The entire exterior is designed in a very specific way to move air where it wants creating a unique and sexy design allowing you to almost be able to visualize just how the air moves over it. Some more F1 technology comes into play with the controversially styled “whiskers” in the front grille openings. Does it look like a catfish? Yes, but they serve a purpose. Those whiskers actually act as air deflectors and they actually move depending on the vehicles speed. Some of you may remember controversy of “flexible” front wings in Formula 1 or even more recently with Toyota’s rear wing at this year’s 24 Hours of LeMans, this is the same technology. At low speeds the majority of the air gets directed into the dual front mounted radiators behind the front bumper but as the speeds increase the whiskers deflect and move more air underneath the car to increase the effectiveness of the rear diffuser both reducing lift and drag at higher speeds. Air outlets next to the headlights vent the hot air after going through the radiators over the fender arches and down the side of the car while strategically placed body lines and air inlets feed the air intakes and other coolers at the back of the car. Point being, this is a production car with aerodynamics you can actually feel on a race track and they accomplished that without the use of a massive rear wing or front splitter.
So what does it drive like? It drives exactly like you would expect it to, but even better. The mid-engine rear wheel drive configuration provides an incredibly balanced and confidence inspiring feel through the corners. The quick ratio steering and the buttery smooth, incredibly fast shifts make it an absolute dream, and the noise of 8 cylinders screaming behind your head at 9,000rpm is something you will never forget as long as you live. I have driven race cars that handle better, I have driven higher horsepower cars, and I have driven cars with more downforce it is true, but those were all highly modified well prepped race cars. I have never driven a car, race car or not, that has as much soul or gives you as much of an experience as the Ferrari 458 Italia does.