9

10

Model

Coupe

Price

$526,950

The Numbers

4.5-litre V8, RWD, 425kW, 540Nm, 13.3L/100km, 0-100km/h in 3.4secs, 540Nm

The Topgear Verdict

Sorry McLaren, Porsche and Lamborghini, but this this is currently the best small mid-engined supercar in the world.

2013 Ferrari 458 Coupe

What is it?

Widely regarded as the best mid-engined supercar of the past five years, the 458 is Ferrari’s smallest car and the company at its very best. Beautiful, extremely fast, delightful to drive – this is everything a red-blooded supercar should be.

Powered by a 4.5-litre V8 just behind your head, the 458 Italia stumps up 425kW and 540Nm of torque, leading to extreme speed: 0–100km/h in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 325km/h. It positively sears on road or track. But it’s usable and friendly at slow speeds, copes beautifully with motorways and serious mileage, and even the automatic function on the seven-speed DSG paddleshift is pretty good. What’s the catch? Oh yes, it costs more than $500k.

Driving

Although the 458 is the kind of pretty that can make people bump into things and fall off kerbs, the driving is where this car really scores. An engine that variously growls, screams, sings and howls, a chassis that rewards and excites, sublime steering – the baby Ferrari really does appear to have it all. But more than that, this is a supercar that seems to have got a handle on what that really means. It may not be the absolutely fastest car in terms of on-paper statistics, but the experience, the measure of the balance between fun and speed, is just pitch perfect. We want a Ferrari 458 Italia. Everyone should want a Ferrari 458.

On the inside

One of the most contentious parts of the interior design on the 458 is the fact that the steering wheel has adopted most of the extraneous functions, very much like an F1 car. What that means is that there are no stalks to get in the way of the huge column-mounted paddles for the gearbox. It is complicated at first, and hugely frustrating for the old and impatient, but you soon get used to it. The seats are comfortable and yet supportive, there’s a decent 230-litre luggage compartment up front, the fuel tank is a sufficient 86 litres and there’s no reason not to do a big trip in one go. There’s just one thing: it’s all a bit busy and techno. One has a feeling that this dash/interior set-up may not date well.

Owning

There were some concerns about electrics in early cars, hopefully now solved. There is also a bewildering array of optional extras: from triple-layer paint to carbon-ceramic brakes, to extra Ferrari badges, so an Italia can jump in price depending on how you spec it. Few will be standard, many will be $600,00-plus, even with a few kays on the clock.

Driven: November 07, 2013