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First look: Ferrari's next GT is a supercar

Sleek: The new Ferrari two-door features radical new four-seat interior.

Ferrari has issued official sketches of the 2+2 GT that will replace the 456 in 2004

8 Jul 2003

IT'S not often Ferrari releases an all-new model, but that's exactly what the prancing horse brand is expected to do at next January's Detroit motor show, where it will reveal the replacement for its oldest model, the 456.

As a taste test, Ferrari has released the first official sketches of the 456 successor, revealing a sleek new two-door body with a radical new cabin big enough to accommodate four passengers in comfort.

Styled, like the decade-old original, by famed Italian design house Pininfarina, Ferrari's new 2+2 coupe will take over from where the 456 leaves off - as the only four-seater in the Ferrari range.

Released in Europe in 1992 and here in 1994, the 456 GT was renamed the 456M GT manual and 456M GTA auto in 1998. It is priced above the 360 Modena coupe/Spider convertible and below the 575M Maranello at $537,500 and $563,000 respectively.

Known internally as F137 but likely to be dubbed the 460 or simply the Bologna, the 456 successor will continue the front-engined 2+2 grand tourer concept.

A heavily disguised development mule has already been spotted in testing around Maranello and it is known Ferrari has paid particular attention to rectifying one of the 456's weaker points - handling.

Sketches show a longer bonnet thanks to an A-pillar that's been moved rearwards in an effort to achieve better weight distribution by pushing the engine further back.

Significantly, the new car will be based on a 360 Modena-like aluminium platform, rather than the 456's steel underpinnings. However, it is not known whether the 460 will employ four-wheel drive.

Sources suggest the 460's wheelbase will be at least 150mm longer than the 456, indicating interior space - especially for rear-seat occupants - will also be improved.

Wheels will be 18-inch alloy as standard instead of the 17-inch items of the 456, while headlights will take on the integrated look of the 360 and 575M.

Ferrari's use of the Detroit motor show to launch the 460 is seen as an acknowledgement of the significance of the US market to Ferrari, while also allowing sister company Maserati airtime at Frankfurt this year to expose its new four-door Quattroporte.

Desperate to better the performance of Bentley's new Continental GT, which lays claim to being the world's fastest four-seater, Ferrari will equip the 460 with its flagship Enzo's 6.0-litre V12 that produces 410kW and 650Nm of torque.

Of course, Ferrari's F1-style, six-speed sequential "Cambiocorsa" gearbox will be optional but, either way, 0-100km/h acceleration is tipped to drop from the current 456's 5.1 seconds to around 4.5 seconds, with top speed likely to top 320km/h.

In other words, Ferrari's GT will finally be a supercar.

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