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The Top Gear car review:Ferrari 458
For:Looks, noise, driving, speed, brilliance
Against:Can end up massively expensive
Speciale 2dr Auto
What we say:
We reckon this is the world's best supercar. That is all
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 570bhp and 398lb ft of torque, leading to extreme speed: 0–62mph in 3.4 seconds and a top speed just over 200mph. 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. The new 605bhp Speciale takes all this and makes it yet more intensely rewarding. We didn’t think it was possible. Gloriously, it is.
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’s truly super.
And then there’s the Speciale. Lighter, more powerful and faster, with honed suspension and revised aero, it’s simply heroic. It’s bursting with life; the quickness and truth of this car is just fabulous.
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. Not that such concerns will bother you with the Speciale: it’s all low-fat trim and no carpets in there, a similar back-to-basics approach that served Ferrari so well with the 430 Scuderia and which gives the Speciale real purpose even at a standstill.
Residuals are very strong, supported by the fact that the car is so good. There were some concerns about electrics in early cars, hopefully now solved. There is a bewildering array of optional extras: from triple-layer paint for £12k, to £10k carbon-ceramic brakes, to extra Ferrari badges, so an Italia can quickly jump in price. Few will be standard, many will be £200,000-plus.