James on the Ferrari 458
The Ferrari 458 is a bit like high-definition television. It's a phenomenon with which we are completely familiar - a mid-engined Ferrari - but much clearer and brighter.
Take the gearbox. Like my old F430, it has paddles behind the wheel, but where my car moves from one gear to the next, this one is simply in one and then instantly in the other. It is, literally, quantum mechanics, in the sense that the space in between ratios is never actually occupied.
'It’s a better car than my old F430 in every single way. It’s really bloody annoying'
The engine is more powerful, and the exhaust note is crisper, sharper and better defined. There is a greater sense of immediacy to everything that happens in the 458. The steering on the F430 has never been described as bad, but the steering on this car is simply less fuzzy. The suspension is a bit more accommodating, the brake pedal a bit more positive, and the glove box appears to be slightly bigger. Even the styling seems to have been rendered with slightly sharper edges.
See what I mean? It's the same stuff, rendered in more detail. It's as if a lens has been wiped clean, or a layer of sponge removed from the ends of your fingers. The world of driving a Ferrari remains familiar, but is now in sharper focus.
Obviously, high-def television can come with its own downside, just as most technological advances do. Richard Hammond's hair or Jeremy Clarkson's face in greater detail is not something that society ever regretted not having, but this car only benefits from the transformation. There is no penalty that I can detect. It is, in fact, a better car than mine in every single way.
It's really bloody annoying.