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First look: Ferrari’s all-new full-bore 458

Maranello masterpiece: Ferrari's new 458 will be more expensive than the F430 it replaces.

Italy’s prancing horse brand unveils its wild new F430 replacement – the 458 Italia

Ferrari logo28 Jul 2009

By MARTON PETTENDY

FERRARI has revealed the wicked new Enzo-inspired replacement for its volume-selling F430 overnight – the 458 Italia.

Already, more than 10 Australians have placed orders for the circa-$500,000 super-coupe ahead of its world premiere at the Frankfurt motor show in September, and first deliveries Down Under in the middle of 2010.

Described as a “massive leap forward from the company’s previous mid-rear engined sports cars”, the all-new prancing horse comes with an all-new 4.5-litre engine, chassis, aerodynamics, instrumentation and ergonomics.

The headline act is a new 4.499-litre V8 that delivers 425kW at 9000rpm (up from 360kW) and 540Nm of torque at 6000rpm (up from 465Nm), 80 per cent of which is said to be available from 3250rpm.

Apart from giving the 1380kg (dry) coupe, which is 70kg lighter than before and 30kg lighter than the stripped-out 430 Scuderia, a specific torque rating of 120Nm per litre, it is enough to propel the 458 to 100km/h in a claimed 3.4 seconds – 0.6 seconds quicker than the F430 as well as two-tenths quicker than the 430 Scuderia.

Ferrari says the mid/rear-mounted 90-degree V8, which has a compression ratio of 12.5:1 and is the company’s first direct-injection engine to be mid-mounted, gives the 458 a 42/52 per cent front/rear weight distribution and a top speed of 325km/h.

Mated to a new seven-speed ‘F1’ dual-clutch automated manual transmission, the 458 returns average fuel consumption of 13.7L/100km and CO2 emissions of 320g/km. That’s not only far more efficient than before (18.3L/100km), but frugal enough to make it the most fuel-efficient supercar, according to Ferrari.

Official dimensions put the 458, which rides on a 2650mm wheelbase, at 4257mm long, 1937mm wide and 1213mm high. Forged wheels will be an option to the standard 20x8.5-inch front and 20x10.5-inch rear wheels, with 235/35 and 295/35 tyres respectively.

Racing seats, an electronic E-Diff3 differential and high-performance ABS brakes will also be on offer – the latter claimed to cut 100-0km/h stopping distances to 32.5 metres.

Ferrari says the 458’s surprising new nameplate, which departs from the engine displacement-based name of the 4.3-litre F430 and the 5.99-litre 599, is a reflection of the car’s groundbreaking significance.

“The new model is a synthesis of style, creative flair, passion and cutting-edge technology, characteristics for which Italy as a nation is well-known,” says Ferrari. “For this reason Ferrari chose to add the name of its homeland to the traditional figure representing the displacement and number of cylinders.”

34 center imageWidely expected to have been labelled the F450, the 458 not only drops the F (for Fiorano) from its two-seater coupe’s name, but adopts the Italian maker’s (somewhat loose) capacity and cylinder count nomenclature applied to the 612, in which the 6 stands for the car’s 6.0-litre displacement (even though it is actually 5.8) and the 12 represents its number of cylinders.

Of course, in the 458’s case, the name represents the car’s new 4.5-litre V8, as evidenced in the overhead shot by a flatter and broader version of Ferrari’s trademark crackle-finished cast intake manifold under the transparent rear engine cover.

It is not the first time Ferrari has misled observers about the name of a future model, and the usual rash of people wanting to secure a personalised number plate to either sell or fit to their own 458 will now be making their way to their local motor registry office. GoAuto understands one well-placed Sydney 458 owner-to-be has already done so.

The biggest surprise revealed by the four images released by the Maranello maker tonight, however, is the Pininfarina-designed 458’s strikingly new low-slung stance and more curvaceous bodyshell, which offers hints of the iconic Dino but takes plenty of inspiration from the Ferrari’s most formidable recent model, the Enzo.

As previewed by a number of European spy shots, the 458’s far more sophisticated level of aerodynamics is evidenced by secondary F1-style wings built into the front air intakes, while the F430’s traditional large rear air scoops and vents have disappeared to allow a lower rear-end and, presumably, lower levels of drag over the rear of the car.

Additional air inlets either side of the headlights, which are more longitudinally stretched and now feature obligatory LED lighting, are also new, as is what appears to be a much larger instrument cluster within what is expected to be a more luxurious wrap-around cockpit.

Ferrari says Michael Schumacher once again played an invaluable role in the development of its newest model, which is once again based on an aluminium chassis that employs aerospace industry-derived manufacturing and bonding techniques.

The result of extensive wind tunnel testing is claimed downforce of 140kg at 200km/h and the Italian supercar brand says the integration of the E-Diff and F1-Trac (which are now controlled by the same ECU) has resulted in a 32 per cent increase in longitudinal acceleration out of corners. It says more sophisticated software mapping results in faster and more accurate calculation of grip levels, delivering improved roadholding, better handling and greater control on the limit.

Australian and New Zealand Ferrari importer European Automotive Imports has advised that the successor for the F430 coupe will carry a higher sticker price than both the California coupe-convertible ($472,000) and the F430 Spider ($472,950).

“It is expected that, given its performance will be on par with the most expensive 430, the Scuderia, this will be reflected in its pricing, which will not only be above the current coupe but also the California,” said EAI spokesman Edward Rowe.

The F430 Coupe is currently priced at $434,150 plus on-road costs, while the 375kW/470Nm 430 Scuderia costs $573,700.

EAI says Australia’s production allocation for the 458 Italia will be similar to that of the F430, meaning a long wait for those who order now. It expects the California to be its most popular model while the 458 replaces the F430, but for V8 models to be split evenly between the California and 458 once the latter reaches full production.

Ferrari sales in Australia are almost 60 per cent down so far this year, with just 39 examples sold in 2009, but V8s will continue to comprise 80 per cent of local Ferrari sales, with the remainder being V12 models in the 612 Scaglietti ($670,250) and 599 GTB ($650,300) coupes.

The 458’s reveal will be followed almost immediately by factory visits of sales prospects from around the world, eager to witness the newest Ferrari on the line at Maranello.

Of course, an open-top Spider version of the mid-engined 458 hardtop (or Berlinetta) will follow in the same 18 to 24-month timeframe it took for the F430-based Spider to appear.

First launched in 2004, the F430 was the upgraded version of the 360, an all-new model that replaced the F355 in 1999.

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