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Steering, suspension and comfort

Until the Ferrari 458 Italia, the two best-handling mid-engined cars on sale were the Lotus Evora and Noble M600.

The Ferrari hasn’t totally eclipsed them but it sits very comfortably in their company. However, the other things it can do are what sets this car apart.

You’ll be surprised by the lack of progression when brushing the 458's carbon-ceramic brakes, but when asked to do a more serious task, the Brembo-sourced items are thoroughly up to the job

For a start, the 458 outrides the Noble – no surprises there – regardless of whether the two-stage adjustable dampers are set to normal or the softer ‘bumpy road’ setting.

Regardless of setting, the 458 is (for a supercar) a supple-riding thing whose fast, light steering, at 2.0 turns lock to lock, instantly feels agile. That doesn’t translate to a nervousness around the straight-ahead, mind.

It just means that it feels more willing to turn than the M600 and Evora (and any other rival), despite being heavier. It’s true that the speed and lightness of its rack does rob the 458 of some of the intimacy enjoyed by the Lotus, Noble and, say, a Porsche 911 GT3, but a surprising amount of feel maked its way to the rim.

There’s enough, certainly, to make the 458 enjoyable even at the sensible speeds that road conditions generally allow. Such is the 458’s ability that you can cover ground at a fair lick without delving into the depths of its reserves as you would have to in a GT Porsche, a Lexus LF-A or, dare we say, the Noble, despite its power advantage.

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Even when modest things are being asked of it, the 458 is tactile enough to reward. Closer to its limit, it has all the poise, and more, that we’ve come to expect from a mid-engined V8 Ferrari. Rivals that do things better are few.

It's a similar story when evaluating the Ferrari 458 Spider, although with a smidge less intensity. Ferrari has softened the dampers slightly in the transformation from Italia to Spider, but otherwise the suspension is identical. While a slight tremor through the bodyshell can be felt on really rough roads, the structure always feels resolutely stiff.