by Ben Selby
Sitting at the lights on Moorhouse Avenue in this Ferrari 458 Italia, everyone’s eyes were on stalks. The 458 is just one of those glamourous supercars which makes even the most discerning petrolhead go all gooey, it also happens to be one of the greatest Ferraris ever built.
Let’s start with the looks. For me the 458 was the first truly pretty Ferrari since the 288 GTO of 1984. The aerodynamic slits in the front grill change shape at speed, aiding in downforce and aero. Plus, the 458’s wide stance makes for a commanding presence parked up at your local. The combination of form and function are brought together to create a stunning visual package.
The same continues inside with the 458’s simplistic driver focused cabin. Ferrari road cars of the last 30 years have always had a strong influence from Enzo’s obsession for F1, and this can be seen from the 458’s steering wheel. Aside from the shift paddles, all buttons operating the wipers, indicators, high beam and starter button are housed on the wheel, which can take a wee bit to get your head around.
The driving position itself is nigh on perfect as is the positioning of other interior functions, this a driver’s car first and foremost after all, and what a car! Turn key and press the red ‘engine start’ button on the wheel and the 458 engulfs your surroundings with a loud bark before settling into a mild burble. The part responsible for this torrent of mechanical audio bliss a 4.5-litre flat-plane crank V8 with a whopping 562HP, 70 more than the F430 it replaced.
This is mated to a seven- speed dual clutch F1 shift box and a multi position traction control system with wet, sport and race modes. In Race mode, shifts are as quick as 50 milliseconds. Carbon brakes front and rear will allow you to pull up quick sharp and the clever E-Diff, the same used in Ferrari’s F1 cars, is constantly ensuring you can have fun without fear of using the 458 as a hedge trimmer.
Plant boot and you reach the national limit in 3.4 seconds and flat-out will be doing a snip over 200mph. In the bends the 458 is a revelation, super quick steering and out of this world handling all adds up for a sensational drive. There is a radio of course, but after hearing that blood-curdling V8 bellow at 9,000rpm, you will never use it.
As the last of the naturally aspirated V8 supercars from Maranello, the 458’s status as a future classic is secure, plus its definitely up there as one of the greatest supercar drives of all time.