Ferrari used the Frankfurt auto show, once again, to introduce its 458 Speciale, which has optimized combustion, volumetric, and mechanical efficiency to hike power by 35 horses, while cutting the 0-to-62-mph sprint to an even three seconds. What's more, the tailpipes, silencer, and redesigned exhaust inlet have been tweaked to sound as much like Fernando Alonso's F138 as possible. The Speciale has not yet been added to the official U.S. Ferrari lineup, but don't wait to make a deposit at your local dealer if you're interested...
With old-fashioned, three-pedal manual gearboxes having been purged from the Prancing Horse lineup, the 458 is the purest form of sports car that the Scuderia offers. Its direct-injected 4.5-liter V-8 makes 562 hp and directs it to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Redlining at 9000 bellowing rpm, the engine pushes the coupe from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, while the droptop Spider takes 3.5 seconds. Top speed is 202 mph and 198 mph, respectively. The Spider's body is 30 percent less rigid than the coupe's, however, with no change in the car's spring rates, making the coupe, arguably, the driver's 458. With its magnetorheological dampers (which, yes, it shares with Cadillac and Corvette), the 458 corners as if each tire has negotiated its exclusion from the laws of physics, demonstrating razor-sharp reflexes and chassis balance unimaginable ten years ago.
Ferrari unveiled its replacement for the F430 at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2009. It's without a doubt the most serious "driver's" Ferrari, aside from the ultra-exclusive, ultra-high-tech La Ferrari. Its mid-engine configuration puts the V-8 in the right spot for low polar moments of inertia (read: supreme handling characteristics), and Ferrari boasts that the Spider is the first mid-engine car with a retractable hard top.
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