Well, who can honestly say they saw the Ferrari 458 Italia coming?
We were all expecting a gentle evolution of the F430 (rumoured to be called the F450), but what we have instead is what looks like a baby Enzo.
It seems that this is the Ferrari for everyone. It’s got a show-stopping design, it looks fantastic in red (as all classic Ferraris should), it’s packed with F1 and futuristic technology and then there’s the Ferrari badge. And when Michael Schumacher has been involved with the testing of it, you know it’s going to be good, even if it does have to be a bit naughty to get there.
The 458 Italia could even be the supercar for environmentalists. The first mid-engined application of Ferrari’s new direct-injection V8 has helped cut CO2 emissions to 320g/km (over the 420g/km in the F430) and mpg is boosted to more than 20 (over the 17mpg of the F430). These eco improvements come despite the fact the 458 Italia is faster and more powerful than both the F430 and 430 Scuderia.
Everything about this car screams “look at me”, but what I love about it is the details. I’ve never seen such aerodynamic door handles or such a strikingly sculpted LED light ‘tower’ at the front, nor have I seen a front bumper which deforms at speed. The tri-exhausts and F1-style diffuser help complete the look at the rear end.
It gets even more impressive when you look at the figures and not just the performance ones, either. It may be Ferrari’s highest-revving road car it has every built – putting out 562bhp at 9000rpm – but again, the real interest lies in the details.
Ferrari say the 458 Italia has a 32 per cent increase in acceleration out of corners over the F430 and that was hardly a slouch. The stopping time is also hugely impressive, which is just 32.5 metres when stopping from 62mph.
As our story says, the Ferrari 458 Italia has more in common with superbikes and the aviation industry than conventional road cars. Its specific output of 127bhp per litre is greater than many turbocharged units, and compares favourably with that of superbikes, while its manufacturing techniques will resemble those seen in building aircraft.
With the Ferrari F430, we had the 430 Scuderia. That’s left me pondering one big question: when you look at the 458 Italia, with its F1 wind tunnel-developed aerodynamics and 0-62mph time of 3.4secs, just what exactly can Ferrari do to this car for the Scuderia version?
But lets not get too ahead of ourselves. Ferrari has created something really special with the 458 Italia. On first impressions, it looks like a Ferrari which will live long in the memory; it may even reach iconic levels last seen with the F40.
Roll on Frankfurt, when we will get to see it in the carbonfibre and aluminium for the first time.