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Any observations about the Ferrari 458 Italia’s styling are, of course, entirely subjective but, in our office, the consensus is that it marks a return to sensational-looking Ferraris.

With a flat undertray, but without any obvious aero aids, the 458 generates more downforce than the F430 (360kg flat out) and yet it is also more aerodynamic.

Tim Dickson

Chief sub-editor
The 458 Italia is one of the most striking Ferraris in an age

One obvious change from the styling of the car it replaces is that the intakes for the engine bay cooling have been moved from the car’s rear flanks to the undertray, improving the overall efficiency and the operation of the rear diffuser.

The striking air intakes on the 360’s and F430’s rear haunches have been dropped in favour of a triangular intake that blends into the tapering windowline. It's a more elegant solution. Clever aerodynamics haven’t harmed the beauty of the car: the distinctive vent that leads up to the headlight allows in air to cool the brakes and then feeds it out of the channel on the other side to reduce lift over the front arches.

Then there are the inlet wings. These angle air upwards so enough is pushed through the radiators at low speeds but they then deform to reduce drag at higher speeds, when you don’t need such a large inlet area for adequate cooling. These wings also generate downforce.

Ferrari says the small lip on the boot provides plenty of downforce, and a movable wing is not necessary. We never found any reason to disagree. 

Finally, there is a touch of Enzo in the 458’s overall design, particularly in the shape and position of the rear lights (although the Enzo had twin units). Vents below the rear lights are for radiators to cool the gearbox and clutch.

Having said all this, the 458 Spider arguably ups the desirability stakes even further. Its aluminium roof is 25kg lighter than the 430's fabric set-up, and can be retracted in just 14 seconds. Whilst it loses the Italia's glass engine cover, the cohesive packaging of the roof means choosing a convertible Ferrari is no longer rife with compromises.

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