Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

A tenth of a second to 60mph. Two-tenths to 100mph. Two-tenths over a standing quarter mile. Less than a second to 150mph.

These are the differences between the Speciale and a standard 458 Italia on bald acceleration. On their own, they seem too little to justify Ferrari’s effort – not to mention what upgrading to a Speciale from a 458 could cost a typical Ferrari owner.

Peak power is produced at a lofty 9000rpm; peak torque is hit at 6000rpm

True enough, the Speciale isn’t the most explosive sprinter you could spend £200k on, but it doesn’t matter in the slightest: it’s close enough. The Speciale is quicker than a Porsche 911 Turbo S from 80mph upwards, without resorting to forced induction.

And because this is an atmospheric engine – nothing less than the most energy-dense naturally aspirated engine in any road-legal car in the world, according to Ferrari – the quantity of the power that it makes is exceeded in staggering brilliance only by the astonishing way in which it makes it.

You’d be made to wear ear defenders if your day job exposed you to the sabre-sharp scream of this car’s V8 above 8000rpm. You’d also need a quiet room in which to lie down.

Below 4000rpm, there’s relatively little urgency to the way that the car picks up speed. But above 6500rpm, the intermingling of gathering pace and noise is automotive drama at its most vivid. It’s spine-tinglingly exciting – and that, to us, is job number one for a car such as this.

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It’s sublimely involving, too, on account of the Speciale’s other-worldly throttle response, which could rival that of an electric sports car. Gearshift times have been improved by as much as 44 per cent, according to Ferrari.

In Race mode, they’re as quick as in any paddle-operated gearbox save a proper pnuematic sequential competition transmission.

The upshot is that the Speciale’s powertrain does precisely what you want it to do precisely when you want it, in precise and instant proportion to the magnitude of your input.

When you’re not absolutely ‘on it’, that kind of responsiveness can seem overbearing, but the car is not too highly strung to bumble along gently and smoothly enough at low revs if you want, either. Gently, smoothly – but never quietly.