First Test: Ferrari 458 Italia

Don Sherman
Max Earey/Ferrari

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:

0-60mph 3.0sec
0-100mph 6.4
0-120mph 8.9
0-140mph 12.2
0-160mph 17.0
0-180mph 23.3
1/4-mile 10.9sec @ 134 mph
Peak g 0.96
30-70mph passing 4.2sec
70-0mph 143ft
Peak g 1.18
L 1.04g
R 1.08g
I 47mph
II 66
III 89
IV 112
V 141
VI 173
VII 202

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.

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Sissy- matics are okay in high end exotics for obvious reasons but in anything less I'll have mine with the man pedal and manual shifter. Defenders of the slush boxes are usually those whom don't know how to drive manual and or unskilled at driving them proficiently. In super cars it near as much makes no difference because everything happens much faster and a lot more money is invested in making the auto work like an F1 car.
To Don Sherman, and whichever editor(s) at Automobile let this pass their desk: May you never have to fear for the loss of a loved one after a disaster. For then you would have a tough time swallowing your thoughtful words you opened the 2nd paragraph of your article with, "Unless you just exited a Chilean mine shaft, you already know the technological strides". I know it may be a stretch for you, but it could help to think before you speak. I have a deep love for high performance vehicles myself, but I never make references to them being "stronger than the floodwaters in Pakistan", or something horrible like what was written here. You should lose your job over this. There are millions of CARING unemployed people that would take it and do it better.
Too much heat, not enough air. Same as the V10 R8, initially. A R8 still lights up every once in a while.
I won't be able to buy any Ferrari any time soon, but if I ever get the chance to the same rules apply as with every other automotive purchase I make: if it doesn't have THREE PEDALS, I don't want it! Especially given the allure of those gorgeous notched Ferrari shifter gates!
A feature article on how great the 458 Italia is, is posted the day after Ferrari announces its recalling all of them for fires.

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