Ferrari 458 Speciale Review: Born to be King

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Before me the Ferrari 458 Speciale. Eight vee cylinders that in a matter of seconds will work at my command with the absolute conviction of being at the controls of the perfect equation, the formula so many times dreamed of where the street sports car and the racing car merge into one to enjoy driving from the first moment. Many had explained this feeling to me, but now I finally understand it, this is the true Ferrari spirit.

The Ferrari 458 Italia carries in its commercial name one of the most important responsibilities of all the machines conceived in Maranello have endured; honoring the homeland where Enzo Anselmo Ferrari was born on February 18, 1898. It was with absolute pride that Luca Cordero di Montezemolo discovered to the world the name Italia on the new Ferrari with a V8 engine, a sentiment that gives us a good idea of To what extent does the Speciale improve what for many was the absolute reference in its class.

But why call it Speciale? It is Speciale for being an evolved, improved and reinvented 458 … Speciale for confirming what seemed impossible, that the Ferrari F430 Scuderia could have an even better successor … and Speciale for bringing with him the most powerful V8 mechanics ever made by Ferrari with 605 horses at 9,000 revolutions and a specific power of true madness with 135 hp / l.

But the Ferrari 458 Speciale was not conceived as a “simply” improved variant of the Ferrari 458 Italia. With the weight of history in the hands of the 360 ​​Challenge Stradale and F430 Scuderia, the name Speciale was born with the obligation to put on the table a new interpretation of the personality of Italia. New sensations and new feelings come to light with each new line. This Speciale is different and, as soon as I turn the manettino to go from sport mode to race mode, I realize that my mind has decided to forget about the 458 Italia forever. Now there is a new king on the track.

Silence … it rolls

Ferrari 458 Speciale

Data sheet

  • Motor 4.5 V8 direct injection
  • Power 605 hp at 9,000 rpm
  • Maximum torque 540 Nm at 6,000 rpm
  • Weight / power ratio 2.3 kg / cv
  • Maximum speed 325 Km / h
  • Acceleration from 0 to 100 Km / h 3.0 s

The day begins sunny in San Pedro de Alcántara (Malaga), at the entrance of the exhibition and official dealer C. de Salamanca, a very good friend, Diego Lara, is waiting for me, the one in charge of corroborating the endless technical data that I store in my head and that the feeling between the macchina and I was exceptional from minute one. This Speciale is a Latin beauty, and as such, I am warned that she has character, a lot of character.

Its silhouette under the Sun shows off the Rosso Scuderia color, adorned with a blue band that runs through the entire bodywork and which is in turn guarded by white stripes on both sides. An optional configuration that hides a nod to the past of the cavalier firm and, more specifically, to the North American Racing Team (NART) created in 1958 by Luigi Chinetti to introduce Ferrari to endurance races held in the United States such as the 24 Daytona Hours or 12 Hours of Sebring.

Ferrari 458 Speciale

Before we get down to work we enjoy an espresso in the spectacular atelier of the exhibition, an authentic Ferrarian temple where among samples of upholstery, steering wheels, seats and three units of the Ferrari 458 Italia – Coupé, Spider and Speciale – we have to choose the most suitable route to express every last of the virtues of the Ferrari 458 Speciale that awaits you at the entrance.

Many will think that the circuit is the ideal setting for this Speciale, and I have to admit that Ascari is really close, however today it invites a tribute to driving where I can enjoy the winding of dozens of linked curves.

Now is the time to settle down, to wrap yourself in some carbon fiber baquets that seem sculpted on the same aluminum monocoque. Belts with four anchor points hold my body without showing the slightest loss of comfort. The driving position… perfect. I am the absolute protagonist of a cabin that exudes sportiness for each trim. The only thing that fails me is that I have plenty of the passenger seat, if there has to be a passenger, that it is only an even larger gas tank.

Ferrari 458 Speciale

The layout of the instrument panel is unbeatable with a steering wheel that brings together all the necessary functions while driving, including indicator Led to make the optimal change. This Speciale ensures that your two hands never leave its thick carbon contour, only with a slight set of fingers I can engage relations executed in 60 milliseconds while I have fun squeezing the different driving modes that the manettino offers.

And all this without losing sight of the tachometer, an exquisite analog clock that looks like a pictorial work of a red zone that starts at 9,000 revolutions! and that in turn frames both screens LCD where on the left I know the condition of the tires, brakes, propeller and gearbox, and on the right I have access to the fabulous Ferrari Telemetry system that allows me to record my driving in real time indicating every point where I can improve and allowing me to relive my last driving at home a Once you have downloaded the entire track-day to an SD card.

The goal, sorry, the destination, is in the beautiful town of Ronda. From Malaga the route runs through countless highways and not a few retentions that look nothing like this magnificent technical complex, but the final section is one of those routes that is well worth taking as long as you like to enjoy driving. The Costa del Sol hides many secrets behind its well-known beaches, and where we are going is one of them.

The A-397 treasures 45 kilometers of authentic mountain road where you can enjoy a unique setting like few others. On one side the Sierra de las Nieves and on the other the Guadalmina river valley sheltering the town of Benahavís. A total of 90 kilometers where the meaning of driving takes on another meaning by running a camera on board this unique place.

Flying low to the ground

Ferrari 458 Speciale

The most powerful Ferrari V8 in history houses an eight-cylinder engine with 4,497cc. Its highest achievement is maintaining atmospheric aspiration at a time when the bulk of the industry has given in to supercharging. Half a gesture of arrogance, half an act of genius, the 605 hp at 9,000 rpm and 540 Nm of maximum torque give good faith that in Ferrari everything begins in the engine compartment, the place where the purest essence is concentrated, everything else is secondary.

The propeller is superb, with exciting sound and incredibly fast turning. The precise and forceful transmission in each decision. The Brembo braking equipment digests impossible braking with absolute simplicity. Going from 0-100 km / h barely takes me three seconds, to stop again from the same 100 km / h it barely requires 31 meters. Fast and amazingly easy to pilot, the limits of physics seem to have no bearing on its behavior.

This horse asks for more, and my companion encourages me to do so. The secrets of the Ferrari 458 Speciale are not only in its powertrain or its new weight reduced by 90 kilograms. It is extremely surprising how the curves are digested without showing the slightest loss of motor skills even despite seeking oversteer forcing this rear-wheel drive. The tires do not give in their efforts to keep the line faithful to what I order with the steering wheel. Doubt floods me: Is it all a matter of technology?

During the first technical stop on the side of the road I take the opportunity to discover more details. The Ferrari 458 Speciale installs the system for a world premiere SSC o lateral slip angle control together with a set of Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires developed exclusively for this model in 245/35 sizes ZR20 for the front axle and 305/30 ZR20 for the hindquarters.

Working in unison with a brake system ABS high-performance, the E-Diff 3 differential and a magnetoreological suspension system, the Ferrari 458 Speciale defies any limit that you have been able to meet in any other car. I’m not talking about one, two or three curves. The Speciale maintains its composure where your mind dictates that it is impossible, daring even to challenge you during the line given its ability to withstand even more demanding treatment.

Ferrari 458 Speciale

But there is still more, active aerodynamics takes a more leading role in the case of the Speciale. In a completely redesigned front end, an air flow redirection system is now integrated to increase the load on the front end by 20% thanks to a double mobile splitter in the central section that redirects the air flow towards two spoilers on the vertices of the bumper and two flaps that guard the rear wheel arches.

The rear diffuser, culminating in a fully faired flat bottom, houses a system of flaps in red color capable of varying its angle depending on the load needs on the rear axle. At low speed, it maximizes the ground effect in the resting position, reducing aerodynamic resistance by 0.03 points as we gain speed thanks to its deployment with a maximum angle of 17º.

The coffee is getting cold while I continue to discover data on the occasion of this stop, time is short and it is time to get back at the controls before the tires and the engine lose too much temperature. After this conversation I no longer have doubts, this 458 Speciale has its own personality.

Just a few seconds later I am delighted again with the roar of eight tenors a few inches from my neck. Even the constant sound of the gravel on the carbon floor after being thrown by the tires becomes a melody. There are no defects, vibrations, roughness or parasites, this competition machine exudes comfort and good taste, with a very sporty nature, yes, but with an exquisite finish to confirm again that I am facing the perfect equation.

Ferrari 458 Speciale

Unfortunately we reached the point of return, after a 50-kilometer climb that my body feels like a dozen meters, it is time to change course and face the descent, taking advantage of everything learned during the climb.

I face the descent decisively, with great respect, but with the LED indicator integrated in the steering wheel as the only reference. I squeeze every ratio until the last of those LEDs gives me permission to actuate the right shift lever, an instant later, the V8 again asks me to raise it to its comfortable zone, the red one.

It is extremely difficult to go slowly, and I say difficult not to confirm that it is impossible. The Ferrari 458 Speciale has not only fulfilled all my expectations, but it has achieved what so many considered impossible; be a sports car not only better, but a worthy successor to the Ferrari 430 Scuderia. Its set stands out for a devilish cornering at the mercy of the best V8 manufactured today. They have lost that untamed essence, they say, but nothing is further from reality after learning about the firm what a weight / power ratio of 2.3 Kg / CV means.

The moment to say goodbye is approaching. The 605 CV of pure fun is already on its way to the box while its bodywork still revives the dozens of curves drawn. It is time for reflection, to draw on my experience with other greats that still roar in my memories. Is this Speciale better? worst? Maybe different? signing this Ferrari with the Speciale label is, without a doubt, the most correct name to give life to a one-of-a-kind sports car, sublime in technique and unmatched in design.

Ferrari 458 Speciale

Our sincere thanks to the official Ferrari C. de Salamanca dealer for giving us a unit of the Ferrari 458 Speciale to carry out this test


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