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FERRARI 458 Speciale Review

OUR TEST CAR: 2014 FERRARI 458 Speciale 4.5-liter V8 605 hp

FERRARI 458 Speciale - Page - 1
Ferrari's 458 Italia is almost half a decade old now. They say you should never spend more than five years in the same position, so Ferrari followed suit, upgrading their V8 game to the 458 Speciale. Make no mistake though, this is not a beefed-up incarnation of the 458 we knew. Instead, we are dealing with a more hardcore, racing-inspired 458. One that is still street-legal, of course.

If we are to look into the Ferrari 458 Speciale's past, we find the Scuderia version of the 430 and the Challenge Stradale guise for the 360. We still regard the latter as the best-sounding modern V8 Ferrari, so we may be on to something with this Speciale here. For one thing, Ferrari didn't come up with a designation that invites you to street race the car anymore. As you have noticed, they simply called it "special". This time, the plan is a bit different.

The 458 Speciale offers more performance than any other road-going Ferrari V8 before it. The figures show it and this is immediately confirmed when you set the thing in motion.

Nevertheless, the Prancing Horse aims to make this a drivable beast, something that can also be enjoyed by those less trained in the art of motorsport. People who simply want to live a thoroughbred experience, but without having to take driving courses or head out to the track every weekend for this.

Even so, a set of aerodynamic tweaks were mandatory and we must also talk stripes.
Consider the Speciale a 458 that got itself some tattoos and piercings.

Leading the aerodynamic updates are a set of passive vanes at the nose of the car. While the 458 Italia came with aeroelastic elements in the front apron, the Speciale replaces these with more effective vanes.

FERRARI 458 Speciale - Page - 1
The principle behind the two is the same though. As you hit a certain speed, the airflow causes the elements to move about, which reduces the airflow surface and therefore cuts drag. Don't worry though, the increased air speed means there's enough to feed the radiators anyway.

Moreover, the front apron features turning vanes, while the side skirt received aeronautical-looking fins. All hail the Downforce God!

Speaking of radiators, the engineers were supposed to enlarge the units, since the Speciale's engine is pushed beyond the limit of the standard 458. Well, they said "no", as this would've added weight. Instead, they forwarded the task to their colleagues in the design department. As a result, the bonnet now holds a set of massive vents. Welcome race car look!

At the rear, the spoiler goes for the classic "larger and more angled" profile, but the true changes lie in the diffuser underneath. This includes three active flaps that change their position to reduce the drag caused by the enlarged diffuser. Nonetheless, once you steer the car and need downforce, the flaps the flaps come into play and help generate it.

The new diffuser also meant the exhaust had to be rerouted. Gone is the triple-tip setup of the 458, being replaced by a more conventional layout.

There's just one thing though. Both the front and the rear flaps change their state when the car hits 140 mph (225 km/h), not the kind of speeds you reach every day. Moreover, these bring a limited change in downforce.
Do not expect to feel the downforce-related difference compared to the 458 Italia. At least we didn't.

What we did experience though was the extra directness of the thing. The 458 was never lacking this, but now its response is even more fantastic. As far as this part of the review is concerned, a part of the credit goes to the roughly 200 lbs (90 kg) diet the car has gone through.

It all starts with the lighter 20-inch forged wheels and from this point on, we're pretty much talking of a racing-derived stripping program. The most radical measure was to use thinner glass, while the rear window is made of a fancy plastic called Lexan.

The rest of the "less is more" stuff goes on inside the cabin. As we open the door, the more focused atmosphere becomes obvious. The seats are Sabelt bucket units, featuring a backrest-adjustable carbon fiber structure. The side bolsters are covered in Alcantara, while the center surfaces use a fabric that lets your skin breathe. Well, this may sound like a facial cream commercial, but actually using the seats is nothing like taking care of your body.

FERRARI 458 Speciale - Page - 1
There's plenty of support to hold you in the 458's perfect driving position and the comfort is exceptional... for a race car. For something that will be mostly driven on the street though, the seats are a pain. Sabelt was a Ferrari supplier long before it made the seats for the SRT Viper, but it seems that each of our recent encounters with their label brought physical discomfort.

What's more poised than in the 458 Italia, without causing discomfort though, is the floor. There are no mats and seeing the metallic structure of the Speciale is a delight.

Just like in the defunct Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo Stradale, there's more of the Alcantara stuff around the cabin. Nevertheless, the 458 Speciale gives up on its glove box to save weight, with its place being taken by some padding for the passenger. Guess you won't be needing any stowage at the track, just leave everything at the entrance, will you?

Switching to the area of welcome changes once more, we'll name the carbon fiber gearbox control console.
Yes, the carbon center console. Superb form, superb function.

Oh and let's not forget about the storage shelf behind us. The luggage compartment in our tester is occupied by the spare wheel, a normal treat for mid-endgined supercars, so the shelf has become our friend in need.

No shopping in this Ferrari then. A reasonable argument for your significant other, we have to admit. We've passed a mall just earlier - yes, for the fun of it, we started our drive in the middle of the city. Here on the boulevards, Ferrari's 458 Speciale is a bit of a paradox.

On one hand, this supercar does not come with any extreme elements that would make it ridiculous around town. There's no oversized rear wing to murder pedestrians with, while the nose lift system is still on the list of options. Too bad Ferrari's system only goes up to about 25 mph (40 km/h), so you have to press the button each time you come across a speed bump.

In addition, Ferrari has gotten really good with the drivability - despite all the tech areas of the car being sharpened up, this remains surprisingly easy to handle at slow speeds. If the 458 Italia feels like a pumped-up Fiat 500 when you're light on the throttle through the city, this is more like a grown-up Abarth.

The major difference to the standard car comes from the anorexic windows, which allow quite a lot of the city's vibe to enter the cabin.

For a racing-inspired mutation, the 458 Speciale is incredibly light on its driver around town. Still, the sheer idea of mixing such a car with urban driving is a tad on the strange side.
12
83user rating 48 votes
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autoevolution Apr 2014
76
Value for money: 6/10
History
10
Exterior
8
Interior
8
In the city
6
Open road
10
Comfort
4
Tech facts
10
Gadgets
7
Safety
8
Conclusion
7
83user rating 48 votes
Rate this car!
 
Key Specs
USEU
Engine
V8 4497 cm3
Fuel
Petrol
Power kw
445
Power hp
597
Power rpm
9000
Torque val
398
Torque rpm
6000
Transmission
7-speed F1 dual-clutch automatic
Traction
RWD
Acceleration
2.9
Top speed
202 mph
Length
180 in
Width
76.8 in
Height
47.4 in
Wheelbase
104.3 in
Ground clearance
4.45 in
Cargo volume
8.1 CuFT
Weight
3075 lbs
Seating
2
Power
445 KW/597 BHP @ 9000 RPM
Torque
398 Lb-Ft @ 6000 RPM
Engine
V8 4497 cm3
Fuel
Petrol
Power kw
445
Power hp
605
Power rpm
9000
Torque val
540
Torque rpm
6000
Transmission
7-speed F1 dual-clutch automatic
Traction
RWD
Acceleration
3
Top speed
325 km/h
Length
4572 mm
Width
1951 mm
Height
1204 mm
Wheelbase
2649 mm
Ground clearance
113 mm
Cargo volume
229.4 L
Weight
1395 Kg
Seating
2
Power
445 KW/605 HP @ 9000 RPM
Torque
540 Nm @ 6000 RPM
fuel efficiency
mpgOfficialOurs
City--
Highway--
Combined20 mpg 12.7 mpg
fuel efficiency
l/100kmOfficialOurs
City--
Highway--
Combined11.8 l 18.5 l
base price
$
298,000
base price
238,000
this review's
Guest Opinions

Sir May B. Bach

Take this as a sample of friendly advice gentlemen: you are in dire need of financial training.

Your review is seriously affected by the lack of understanding when it comes to the pricing of this Ferrari. Contrary to what you argued, this is not just a good purchase, it is an absolute bargain.

Allow me to set things straight. If I have been informed correctly, this may be road-legal, but, in essence, we are talking about a Ferrari destined for the track. First of all, it is a wonder that the Italians allow customers to actually get a hold of their vehicles. As you are well aware, Ferrari's customer racing normally means they keep the vehicles, while the owners are flown to various events and allowed to drive. Sure, examples of Ferrari's XX of FXX motorsport machines are a bit of a different story and yet the fact remains.

Factor in the sheer price of those XX creations and, once again, the fact that this is not only considerably more affordable, but you can also take it home, is amazing.

Staying with the business theme, the car can also serve as a model for other carmakers. Allow me to focus on the... ahem... active aerodynamics up front at first. Ferrari installs some flaps with a spring, brands them as active and then charges a hefty amount for such additions.

Brilliant, just brilliant, I have to admit. As you surely know, I happen to own quite a high number of shares in a multitude of automakers. Well, I am not going to miss the lesson - be prepared to find these sort of aerodynamic gimmicks on many, many models in the future.

In order to maximize the profit, I shall probably remove the windows altogether, calling the resulting vehicle the "Estremo" edition. Yes, this Ferrari serves as a proper piece of inspiration for me...

Photo gallery (76)
FERRARI 458 Speciale black Alcantara interior with yellow accentsFERRARI 458 Speciale cabinFERRARI 458 Speciale "Ferrari" door sill in carbon fiberFERRARI 458 Speciale door trimmed in Alcantara and carbon fiberFERRARI 458 Speciale carbon fiber doorFERRARI 458 Speciale interior (door) with speakerFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 Speciale steering wheel ManettinoFERRARI 458 Speciale carbon fiberFERRARI 458 Speciale interiorFERRARI 458 Speciale steering wheelFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 Speciale pedalsFERRARI 458 Speciale headlight controlFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 Speciale alcantara seatsFERRARI 458 Speciale release leverFERRARI 458 Speciale interiorFERRARI 458 Speciale interiorFERRARI 458 Speciale air ventFERRARI 458 Speciale air conditioningFERRARI 458 Speciale carbon fiber accentsFERRARI 458 Speciale center consoleFERRARI 458 Speciale seatsFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 Speciale rear deckFERRARI 458 Speciale V8 engineFERRARI 458 Speciale engineFERRARI 458 Speciale spare wheelFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 Speciale exhaust pipeFERRARI 458 Speciale black stripesFERRARI 458 Speciale taillightFERRARI 458 Speciale side horse crestFERRARI 458 Speciale brake calipersFERRARI 458 Speciale yellow brakesFERRARI 458 Speciale side profileFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 Speciale rear three quarters viewFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 Speciale sits lowFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 Speciale five-spoke wheelFERRARI 458 Speciale rear wheelFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 Speciale angry frontFERRARI 458 Speciale exhaust pipeFERRARI 458 Speciale with door openFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 Speciale tire smokeFERRARI 458 Speciale doing donutsFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 Speciale rear three quarter photoFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 Speciale side viewFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 Speciale black and white photoFERRARI 458 SpecialeFERRARI 458 Speciale burnoutFERRARI 458 Speciale driftingFERRARI 458 Speciale hooningFERRARI 458 Speciale front viewFERRARI 458 Speciale in the desertFERRARI 458 Speciale wide angle viewFERRARI 458 Speciale rear view