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Ferrari 458 Overall verdict
Sorry McLaren, Porsche and Lamborghini, but this this is currently the best small mid-engined supercar in the world.
There is nothing else you should consider. If you can afford it, buy a 458 Italia
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. What’s the catch? Oh yes, it costs £173k basic, and you can quite easily chuck another £50k of options at it.
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.
Ferrari 458 Italias have been changing hands for significant premiums for the first few months of sale, so it’s probably safe to say that residuals will be strong, supported by the fact that the car is so good. There have also been some concerns about electrics in early cars, hopefully now solved. There is also 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 jump in price depending on how you spec it. Few will be standard, many will be £200,000-plus, even with a few miles on the clock.
More Ferrari 458 cars we've driven...
- Ferrari 458 Spider driven
- October 2011