Ferrari 458 Speciale going fast

Prancing Horse's most powerful atmo V8 yours for $550,000, stereo not included

Lighter, more powerful and faster than the 458 Italia on which it's based, the Ferrari 458 Speciale is coming to Australia in the second quarter of 2014 priced at $550,000 plus on-road costs.

Powered by the most powerful naturally-aspirated V8 ever built by the Italian supercar brand, the Ferrari 458 Speciale costs $24,000 more than the 'regular' Ferrari 458, but is 90kg lighter at 1290kg.

Its screaming 4.5-litre V8 engine bangs out 445kW at 9000rpm (20kW more than its donor car) and 540Nm at 6000rpm. That’s enough to accelerate it to 100km/h in three seconds -- almost half a second quicker than the standard 458.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that the first year's allocation has already been sold, and what's left of the 50 to 60 cars coming to Australia and New Zealand in total will most likely be spoken for by the time the inaugural Ferrari Racing Days explodes in Sydney next April.

First seen at the 2013 Frankfurt motor show in September, the Ferrari 458 Speciale is the track-ready hero car in the 458 range, and is so focussed on hot laps it even omits the stereo (though it can be optioned).

The rear-wheel drive 458 Speciale is claimed to be faster than the V12-powered Enzo around Ferrari's Fiorano test track, with a time of 1:23.5 – a good 1.5 seconds quicker.

The Speciale is the spiritual successor to cars such as the F430 Scuderia and 360 Challenge Stradale, both of which also benefitted from mechanical and aero enhancements.

On the topic of aerodynamic improvements, Ferrari spent a lot of time and effort honing the 458 Speciale's sinuous form. It has even augmented the car with active aerodynamics, the first time Ferrari has incorporated this on a production car.

This essentially involves a pair of moving flaps, front and rear, that adjust in angle electrically to increase downforce depending on road speed. The theory is that more downforce in corners delivers more grip, less downforce on the straights ensures higher top speeds.

Design-wise the 458 Speciale gets a few new bits and bobs too, including a restyled front apron, new side skits and a revised rear-end with larger diffuser and twin exhaust outlets in lieu of its donor car's three.

The go-faster Fezza also gets a brand-new driving aid, dubbed side slip angle control (SSC). The system sounds a lot like torque vectoring and is designed to ensure optimum grip and acceleration mid-corner.

SSC incorporates the car's electronic differential (E-Diff) and traction control to vary the power output between the left and right rear wheels.

On top of SSC, active aero, power boosts and its stripped out interior, the Ferrari 458 Speciale also gets a new set of shoes thanks to French tyre supplier Michelin. The Pilot Sport Cup2 tyres were developed specifically for the car and claimed to deliver optimum grip.

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Published : Monday, 9 December 2013
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