The Ferrari 458 might wear the Pininfarina signature, but the car was shaped by the airflow just as much as it was by the pencil. The design house learned quite a lot of lessons from the Prancing Horse’s Formula One activity. The result is obvious even before you get to drive the car, as the all-aluminum 458 doesn’t use any aerodynamic element that stands out.
The front fascia uses both simple and complex elements. The front grille and side air intakes of the 458’s predecessors have merged into a single element, which features two generous air intakes that direct the air towards the engine cooling radiators and the flat underbody of the car. Ferrari also introduced intelligent aerodynamics, with the front bumper housing two elastic winglets. These generate downforce and, as you go faster, they change their shape and create a smaller section through which air enters the radiator intake, thus reducing drag.
Moving on to the air intakes placed on the inside of the headlights, we have to tell you that these channel the air towards the front brakes and then send it outside, using two vents located on the exterior of the headlights. Aside from cooling the brakes, this scheme also minimizes lift over the front wheel arches. As for the headlights themselves, these have an elongated shape that includes the actual eyes of the car -the Bi-Xenon pivoting main lens (optional), as well as eyelashes - two stacks of 20 LEDs used for the daylight running lights.
The front of the supercar didn’t require any modifications for the vehicle to be transformed into a convertible, with the changes starting from the A pillars onwards. The 458 Italia Spider is the first mid-engine convertible in the world to use a folding metal top. We are talking about a two-piece aluminum roof that can be folded not in between the engine and the passenger cell, but over the powerplant.
Speaking of the 458 Spider’s roof, the first impression you get when see a Ferrari 458 Spider with its top down is that you’re looking at a Targa machine. This idea partially fades away as you get closer to the car and notice that it actually offers a fair degree of open-air space.
Once your eyes go past this point of the car, you notice the differences found at the rear of the vehicle. First of all, the glass engine cover is gone, since the top of the engine compartment is now occupied by the folding metal roof.
The cabin ends in a pair of buttresses, hence the aforementioned Targa appearance of the car. These not only reduce turbulence, but also act as roll-bars and channel the air towards the intakes located at the back of the vehicle. Five of the 458’s 570 hp come from the ram effect brought by these air intakes at full speed, so the increase in size for the Spider also boosts this, but apparently not by a quantifiable amount. The scoops also serve for cooling the clutch and gearbox oil, while the hot air that comes out of the radiators hidden behind them is sent directly into the slip stream to reduce drag.
We also find six air vents
on top of the engine cover and since we’ve reached this point of the car, we mustn’t forget the keel shapes on the vehicle’s sides, which channel air past the rear wheels.
Moving to the rear end of the 458, we notice the lack of any wing, be it big or small, fixed or mobile. Ferrari tells us that there’s no need for one. Below we find a pair of rear lights
that remind us of the Enzo, but now we have two instead of four. Going even lower, we see the F40-inspired triple exhaust design and the all-important diffuser.
We didn’t mention the air intakes that feed the engine bay because these aren’t found on the car, but under it. They can be found on the flat underbody, with the air pressuring differences sending a breeze straight into the engine compartment. They’re placed at the back of the car and also increase downforce.
The result of all that hidden work is the fact that, despite the massive downforce generated by the car, its lines stay clean. Thus when you think of the 458, you have a distinct silhouette in your mind, without any visual disturbance. Goal achieved.Continue reading
Hold on, Sir May B. Bach would like to say something...
I shall take some time to explain what this Ferrari is actually all about, as the general opinion about the 458 seems to be rather... ahem... superficial, whether we're talking about the public or the specialized media. Each and every major area of the 458 incorporates Ferrari's Formula One expertise. That's it, this is all most people need to know in order to proclaim that the final result of such an effort is, by... ahem... definition, an automotive translation of the word “perfection”.
Read the full opinion and flame the editor →