New & Used Ferrari 458 Italia: In Depth
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The Ferrari 458 Italia is a mid-engine, rear-drive super sports car and one of Ferrari’s most technically advanced vehicles—as well as one of the most engaging cars to drive. The 458 Italia closely follows in the footsteps of the F430, 360 Modena, and F355.
A successor to the 458 has been announced, called the 488 GTB, that will take over Ferrari's mid-engine V-8 crown for the 2016 model year.
For more on the latest example of the car, read our review of the 2015 Ferrari 458 Italia.
Tracing the 458's lineage could lead you all the way back to the birth of Ferrari, but as a mid-engined coupe built with luxury buyers in mind, its considered a descendent of the Dino as well as the 308 GTS, 348, F355, 360 Modena, and its immediate predecessor, the F430. The 458 Italia debuted at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show before going on sale later that year.
Although it has similar proportions and drivetrain layout to cars that date back to 1968, the 458 Italia brings a new look to the mid-engine Ferrari. The design comes from Pininfarina, with tall front fenders and wide rear haunches, with sharp lines between. The headlights and taillights are perhaps the most modern visual feature, and have been adopted in some form on every new Ferrari unveiled since.
A 4.5-liter V-8 engine, rated at 570 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, is mounted just behind the passenger cell. This engine was the first from Ferrari to employ direct injection. It is hooked solely to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which of course sends its output to the rear wheels. The front suspension uses a double-wishbone design, while the rear has a multi-link setup. Ferrari's F1-Trac traction control and E-Diff electronic differential make the most of the available power and torque; Ferrari says that together they improve acceleration and cornering by up to 32 percent when compared to the outgoing mid-engine car.
All of that combines to give the 458 Italia a 0–60 mph time of less than 3.3 seconds, a top speed of 202 mph, and combined EPA fuel economy of 15 mpg when equipped with engine stop-start, or 14 without.
A convertible version of the 458 Italia, known as the 458 Spider, was introduced at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. Using a retractable hard top that opens and closes in about 14 seconds, the Spider matches the hardtop's 0–60 mph times, but is drag-limited to a top speed of 198 mph. It also gets he same fuel-economy ratings as its coupe sibling.
Ferrari also offers a 458 Speciale, basically a lighter, more track-focused version of the already impressive 458 Italia coupe. It uses more carbon fiber than the standard model, helping it lose some 200 pounds, and also receives a more powerful engine—the V-8 makes 597 hp thanks to a thorough revision that includes many new parts and a very high compression ratio. The Speciale was introduced for the 2014 model year.
A number of racing editions of the 458 Italia have also been built, including cars for ACO and FIA GT-class racing, as well as the Ferrari Challenge race car for the company's one-make spec series, and a model developed specifically for Grand-Am competition.
Like most of Ferrari's range, the 458 Italia isn't necessarily tied to the model year; updates come when Ferrari sees fit. In large part, that's because the 458 Italia can be had in any variety of custom configurations, up to and including celebrity- (and deep pocket-) inspired creations like Eric Clapton's custom car.
As some other Ferrari models, the 458 Italia has been plagued by reports of fires in some owner cars, due in part to the use of a flammable adhesive in the wheel arches, which can overheat and potentially catch fire under certain conditions. Cars that caught fire are being replaced with new ones, and cars built after the problem was discovered use a new mechanical fastening process.
The 2015 model year brings a 458 Speciale A, the A standing for aperta, which is Italian for "open"—this is the Spider version of the Speciale, sharing the hard-core coupe's styling and performance upgrades. It is also the most expensive 458 yet, combining the track-focused tweaks with the more expensive convertible roof.
After the 2015 Ferrari 458, the model will be replaced by a similar mid-engine car with a new name and a very different powertrain. The 488 GTB uses a 670-hp, 3.9-liter twin-turbo V-8. Ferrari expects a 0–60 mph time of about 3.0 seconds. Its styling is basically an update to the 458's look.