The eight cylinders at the center of the car are doing an excellent job at convincing us that Italy has produced yet another great voice. Seriously, we'd have no problem in getting the Ferrari 458 Italia up on the stage during an opera performance.
The fashion in which the sound is flooding the cabin at the moment give us goosebumps in a way that perfectly resembles those experience during the kind of events such as the aforementioned one.
To release the aforementioned notes, the Ferrari 458 uses a tree tailpipes
- the center one lets the exhaust gasses exit the car’s twin rear silencers when you’re light on the throttle. As for the remaining two, these are used once with the exhaust valves, when the hammer is dropped on the joy pedal.
Alas, the resemblance to musical instruments goes a tad further that we would've wanted it to. This means that you have to know how to play the 4.5-liter V8 in order to produce harmonious sounds. Usually, this involves Manettino
modes and throttle positions that aren’t exactly possible in full traffic.
The powerplant features two intake plenums that are interconnected to achieve some sort of supercharging effect, providing more torque at low revs. This is just one of its innovations, but we have to stop here - there’s no time to talk F1-borrowed tech goodies, we have to see what happens when you put these to work at high speeds.
When you allow the Ferrari 458 Italia to stretch its legs in a straight line, the naturally-aspirated 4.5-liter V8 will churn out its 575 hp with eagerness and linearity all the way up to 9,000 rpm. From 3,000 rpm onwards, the torque and sound are obviously boosted and there’s nothing that keeps you from playing with the full muscle of the thing.
Nevertheless, on certain occasions we would’ve liked a bit of extra oomph for a completely insane experience. We’re talking about the kind of rather subtle difference that separated the Ferrari F430 and its Scuderia version. Some people are probably going to throw Rosso Corsa-colored tomatoes at us now.
The V8 must’ve sensed we’re recording a few negative emotions and it compensated with superb flexibility, an asset also shown by the dual-clutch seven-speed transmission. A few minutes ago we could’ve presumed that the gearbox has four of fourteen rations - the shifts were imperceptible and we couldn’t quite tell. At the moment though, the tranny is sending slight shocks through the entire car thanks to our full-throttle shifts. A little violence never hurt anybody.
We are now approaching a series of bends that seem to be a gift promising to turn this into a memorable day. The steering is offering us an “all you can eat” treat in terms of feedback. The turn-in is nicely aggressive and the consistency is balanced. The only thing that may not please everybody is the relative litheness of the setup, but this is lost in the aforementioned sea of assets.
You may or may not spend your Sundays watching Formula One races, but you will appreciate Ferrari’s integration of the technologies developed there. On paper, we’ve got elements such as the magneto rheological suspension, the E-Diff 3 electronically mastered wet-clutch limited slip differential, as well as the F1-Trac traction and stability control system.
These are all controlled by one ECU which makes a damn good master. As you go through the corners, you feel a supreme power being placed at your disposal and the funny part is that you’re never really aware of all the electronics. All you sense is just an incredibly balanced chassis.
As for the Manettino dial, this basically controls how sideways you can get. It’s a brilliant piece of kit, but it does have one drawback - it’s missing one position that would make the car stable in any driving conditions. Its setting are excellent when you’re in the mood for drifting, but we all know that people don’t buy Ferrari to powerslide them all day long. Well, if you want to be totally safe, you can use “Wet” or “Sport” in the dry, but when it’s raining “Wet” won’t stop you from sliding.
However, when you do want to dance, we’d advise you to go for “Race” or “CT Off”. The latter disables the traction control, only leaving the stability control in a state of semi-awareness destined for emergency situations. Watch out though, you can spin in this mode.
There’s a slight aroma of understeer, just so you know you’re about to enter the slide, then the back starts stepping out. The process is progressive and you can forget all about the steering wheel - use the throttle to steer.
Dirty dancing aside, the Ferrari 458 Italia deserves a medal for the duality of its character. When you’re gentle with the throttle and use a “light” Manettino setting, this thing is incredibly easy to drive. It doesn’t get upset at all if you ask it to provide city transportation and makes a good cruising machine once you get out of town.
In the inevitable face-off with the Lamborghini Gallardo
, the Ferrari 458 Italia proves less of a showman, but much more usable. Of course, you can also throw the McLaren MP4-12C
at this Prancing Horse. The Brits offers more muscle and the opposite of the 458’s tail-happy handling, but feels artificial compared to the Ferrari.Continue reading