- Stunning design
- Excellent power and acceleration
- Razor-sharp handling
- Surprisingly comfortable in traffic
- Fairly poor gas mileage
- Not much cargo space
The 2014 Ferrari 458 Italia and 458 Spider continue to exhibit some of the best handling and performance available.
The Ferrari 458 Italia is approaching its fifth year on the market, but it nevertheless looks every inch the modern, masterful supercar. The driving experience places it among the very best supercars ever built.
Reflecting this on-the-nose rendering of the original 458 Italia's design, Ferrari has offered little in the way of updates or changes to the Italia's feature and equipment set. In 2011, the convertible version, the 458 Spider, joined the range; and in 2013, the 458 Speciale was added to the lineup. The 458 Speciale emphasizes the importance of performance by trimming weight and tweaking the exterior for greater aerodynamic efficiency, while tuning up the suspension, control electronics, and tire grip for even more impressive track-day ability.
Both coupe and convertible models of the 458 share a low, aggressive front end with futuristic-looking headlights, a tall, flared rear end that gives the car a muscular stance, and clean, mid-engined proportions that distill the essence of a modern Ferrari performance car. The 458 Italia's interior is modern and luxurious in its look, but not avant garde or striking.
Sitting just behind the occupants' heads, the 458's 4.5-liter V-8 engine is rated at 562 horsepower--all the way up at the 9,000-rpm redline. A full 400 pound-feet of torque is available, with 80 percent of that on tap from 3,250 rpm. But the numbers don't tell the full story of the Italia's V-8.
The sound of the mid-ships engine is, simply, glorious. Only a thin divider separates the engine from the passenger compartment, and that means there's a symphony of mechanical excellence each and every time you fire it up and plant your foot. The presence of the engine transforms the car from a fairly mellow cruiser to a race-bred thrill machine with just a quick stab of the gas.
It's not all about the auditory experience, however. The 458 Italia and 458 Spider also deliver impressive speed and remarkable driver feedback. The coupe hits 60 mph from a stop in just 3.4 seconds, and carries on to a top speed of 202 mph. The Spider's slightly less-slick aerodynamics cap it at 198 mph. Both cars use the same Getrag seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, and both get gas mileage around the 12-mpg mark in the city and 18 mpg on the highway.
The handling, however, is where the Ferrari 458 truly shines. Balance and grip are both evident in large quantities, imbuing a stability not often found in high-horsepower, mid-engine cars. The steering feel is among the very best we've ever experienced, with perfect weight and exquisitely detailed feedback about the road surface and the tires' comfort zones.
The whole being greater than the sum of its individually excellent parts, the real magic of the 458 Italia is how all of its traits work together to produce a driving experience like no other.
Ferraris, like most other exotic or low-volume super-performance cars, are rarely crash tested; the 458 Italia hasn't undergone testing by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Nevertheless, it's built with modern engineering and materials to produce a rigid, secure chassis. Early examples of the 458 Italia had a risk of fire due to an adhesive used near the engine bay, but Ferrari has since solved that problem.
For more, read our first drive of the Ferrari 458 Italia on our luxury and performance site, Motor Authority.