Demonstrating a fit of pure-Italian logic, Ferrari dispatched us to a compact test track in England to give the 458 spurs. The Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) facility near Birmingham offered a rough cornering pad, a one-mile-long straightaway, and a few moments of dry pavement between wind and rain squalls. We used the opportunity to utmost advantage to record these chart-topping performance figures:
1/4-mile 10.9sec @ 134 mph
Peak g 0.96
30-70mph passing 4.2sec
Peak g 1.18
SPEED IN GEARS
What's more impressive than the super-short stopping distance is the 458's willingness to repeat that feat over and over without a hint of fade. The Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, which seem to eat heat for breakfast, keep coming back for more, the faster and the hotter the better. If the left downshift paddle is held back while the brake pedal is depressed, the 458 is programmed to provide multiple throttle blips and down shifts aimed at efficiently shedding velocity before turning into a bend.
Understeer awaits those who crowd the cornering limits. Alternatively, a well timed jab of the throttle in synch with a jerk of the steering wheel will swing the tail out if and when a showy drift is desired.
What makes the 458 Italia worth every penny of its $230,275 base price? It goes far beyond world-beating performance to include the sexiest hips this side of Shakira. Rear-view mirrors full of curved metal and engine induction plumbing. A sound track too richly raucous to be filtered by turbos or mufflers. The grownup's Game Boy that also serves as the steering wheel. Seats that grasp your glutes just right and a tachometer the size of Big Ben.
No less than ten prancing horses displayed inside and out tell the world there's no bull here.