New Cars for 2010: Europe

Mark Bramley Greg Pajo
#BMW, #V-8

FIAT. The 500 won't reach our shores until the 2011 model year, so for now, the only Fiat products we can buy are Ferraris, Maseratis, and Alfa Romeos. Pity us. Ferrari just unveiled its F430 replacement. Alfa is now offering its own convertible, the 8C Spider. and Maserati has added an automatic to the GranTurismo S coupe.

Ferrari 458 Italia the shapely successor to the F430 is lighter and, yes, even faster.

For a long time, Ferrari design seemed driven almost solely by function, but with the California and the new 458 Italia, it's clear that styling is back, for good or ill. It's definitely the former with the 458 Italia, whose curvaceous, Pininfarina-designed body not only features a radical, kicked-up rear fender but also a large, rounded greenhouse that recalls late 1960s endurance racers. Aerodynamic innovations include a nearly flat underbelly and winglets up front, which, at high speeds, deform to shrink the size of the air intakes. The brand's latest mid-engine, V-8 two-seater again boasts an aluminum chassis, helping keep weight to about 3300 pounds. Now mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission - rather than the single-clutch F1 automated manual - the eight-cylinder engine is enlarged to 4.5 liters, adds direct injection, and speaks through three center-mounted exhaust pipes. Output climbs to about 565 hp (at a stirring 9000 rpm) and 398 lb-ft of torque (at 6000 rpm), enough to rocket the new sports car from 0 to 62 mph in less than 3.4 seconds, according to Ferrari, while top speed exceeds 202 mph. Although it seems beside the point, Ferrari would like you also to know that, compared with the F430, the new 458 Italia consumes less fuel and emits less CO2. The 458 (the first two numbers refer to the engine displacement, while the third reflects the cylinder count) will debut at the Frankfurt auto show.

ON SALE: Mid 2010
Base Price: $200,000 (est.)
Specs: 4.5L V-8, 565 hp, 398 lb-ft (est.); rear-wheel drive

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