This is the Ferrari 458 Italia, one of the stars of the Frankfurt motor show.

The Ferrari 458 Italia draws inspiration from the Enzo and takes a new look influenced by the Mille Chili concept car. By supercar standards the shape is extremely slippery, with a drag coefficient of just 0.32.

Ferrari 458 driven on the road: read the first drive, see the pics, watch the Ferrari 458 video

Ferrari has confirmed that the car, codenamed F142 and long rumoured to be named the F450, will be called the 458 Italia. The name derives from the powerplant: a 4.5-litre V8 which Ferrari claims has the highest specific output of any normally aspirated car engine.

It certainly has more in common with superbikes than cars; at 127bhp per litre, the specific output is greater than that of many turbocharged engines.

The high-revving 4498cc V8 has very light internal parts and tiny piston skirts, resulting in low rotation inertia and a 12.5:1 compression ratio. It puts out 562bhp at 9000rpm, 500rpm higher than the 430. That makes it the highest-revving Ferrari road car ever.

It means the 458 Italia will be ferociously fast, and Ferrari claims it will sprint to 62mph in under 3.4sec on its way to a top speed of “over 200mph”. The 458 has lapped the Fiorano test track in 1m 25s, a fraction off the time of the Enzo hypercar.

While advanced engine electronics and lightweight parts underpin the extra performance, this will be the first mid-engined application of Ferrari’s direct injection fuel system, which appeared first on the front-engined California. It also runs Ferrari’s now-traditional flat-plane crankshaft.

The 458’s engine will be one of the most flexible in Ferrari’s history, too, with 398lb ft of torque arriving at 6000rpm. While that sounds peaky, it’s only two-thirds of the way through the 458’s rev range, and over 80 per cent (318lb ft) is available from 3250rpm.

The direct fuel injection has also helped cut CO2 emissions, producing a claimed 320g/km of CO2, even though it is faster and produces significantly more power than the 483bhp F430 and the 508bhp 430 Scuderia.

Dual-clutch ’box

Ferrari learned a lot developing the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox for the California and it has had to do even more development to fit the unit into the 458 Italia’s engine bay, under the curvaceous glasshouse.

The dual-clutch unit from the California has been modified with different ratios and now shifts even faster than the 430 Scuderia’s 0.06sec. The gearbox’s shift style is likely to be slightly more aggressive than the California’s.

The E-Diff differential and the F1-Trac skid control system have long been the flagship carryover technologies from Formula 1, but the 458 Italia takes them even further and adds another piece of F1-derived technology to the brakes.

Instead of using individual ECUs for the E-Diff and F1-Trac, the 458 Italia has one ECU to control both (as well as the ABS system), resulting in streamlined processing and communication. Ferrari claims a 32 per cent increase in acceleration over the F430 (itself no slouch) out of corners.

The brakes feature a new system called ‘prefill’. When the driver’s foot lifts off the throttle, the pistons in the calipers move the pads towards the discs; that helps to reduce the stopping distance from 62mph to just 32.5 metres.

Aluminium chassis

Ferrari has used its experience from designing the 430 Scuderia’s suspension to create the 458 Italia’s double wishbone front set-up and multi-link rear end, all bolted directly to the aluminium chassis. It’s been developed with the help of Michael Schumacher, who was spotted testing the car.

Ferrari has close ties to aluminium specialist Alcoa, which has built a factory near Modena to produce chassis for the firm. The 458 Italia’s frame uses ideas from both the 430 Scuderia and the Mille Chili concept car.

It uses more advanced bonding techniques than the 430 did, along with manufacturing processes more in line with the aero industry. The dry weight of the car is 1380kg.

F1 wind tunnel

While the 458 was designed by Pininfarina, the shape has been developed using Ferrari’s F1 wind tunnel. The bases of the black intakes in the front bumper deform at speed, closing up the intakes and reducing drag. These intakes also provide downforce and feed air though the radiators ahead of the front wheels.

The car’s shape makes air curve around the cabin and run over the integrated tail spoiler. The flat undertray enhances the effects of the rear diffuser to create 140kg of downforce at 125mph.

Inside, the 458 Italia will take the opportunity created by the more luxurious California to become the sportiest V8 in the family. Ferrari says the steering wheel and dashboard are “new innovations in production cars”; expect a development of the firm’s wheel-mounted manettino switch.

The 458 will be built alongside the California in a new production facility at Maranello.

The car is at the Frankfurt motor show and is expected to go on sale in the UK next spring. It will be more expensive than the F430, so expect prices to start at around £150,000.

Dan Stevens

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