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First Ferrari 458 lands Down Under

Exotic: Brisbane’s EuroMarque Ferrari dealership hosted the Australian debut of the 458 yesterday.

Fastest Ferrari ever arrives in Australia as Brisbane hosts 458 Italia’s local debut

10 Jun 2010

FERRARI’S fastest ever road car has landed in Australia, with the first example of the blistering new 458 Italia super-coupe making its local debut in Queensland yesterday.

The first Australian-delivery 458 was air-freighted directly from Italy for its local debut at Brisbane’s EuroMarque Ferrari dealership, where no fewer than 19 orders from well-heeled Queenslanders have been booked despite the 458’s stratospheric price tag of $526,950 plus on-road costs.

The arrival of the first local-specification right-hand drive 458 - which will remain a demonstrator model owned by Australia and New Zealand Ferrari distributor, Neville Crichton’s European Automotive Imports (EAI) – follows the reveal of a left-hand drive display-only model at the opening of EAI’s new HQ and Australia’s newest Ferrari and Maserati dealership in Sydney in February.

The sunshine state is the fastest growing Ferrari market in Australia - as well as the biggest on a per-capita basis – and now comprises 20 per cent of Ferrari sales nationally, with 35 per cent going to both New South Wales and Victoria.

Australia’s first 458 will be driven by prospective Queensland buyers at a customer drive day at the Mt Cotton circuit on Friday.

Between 50 and 60 examples of the 458 will land in Australia this year, with the first customer cars due to arrive from late August, including six for Queensland.

With more than 120 orders received nationally for the 458 however, Ferrari’s newest model is sold out in Australia for more than a year.

Despite a base transaction price of about $590,000 – after dealer delivery fees and statutory charges, but not including options – EAI holds orders for more than 120 examples of the 458.

Australia’s allocation for next year won’t be confirmed until December, but Ferrari says that customers who place a 458 order now could expect to take delivery no earlier than September 2011.

As usual, that has led to a number of offers from potential customers willing to pay a significant premium to own the latest Ferrari without waiting in line, as well as from speculative buyers hoping to cash in on the demand for Ferrari’s wild new coupe by immediately on-selling their 458 to make a quick profit.

EuroMarque Ferrari managing director Greg Willims confirmed he had received “a number” of offers from both buyer types, but said most Ferrari customers were repeat customers and that the 458 waiting list was tightly controlled.

“There will always be buyers who want to jump the queue and we’ve had a number of them with the 458,” he said. “There will also always be a speculative market for Ferraris, but we’re careful to ensure that everyone who puts down a deposit wants to actually own the car.”

34 center imageAt about $527,000, the 458 is around $66,000 more expensive than the model it replaces – the 430 coupe ($460,900). But Ferrari points out the 458 is superior in every measure of performance to not only the 430, but the lightweight 430 Scuderia, which was last sold at $573,700 plus on-road costs or about $640,000 driveaway.

Without its volume-selling model for the majority of this year (the last 430 to be built for Australia arrived here in October last year), EAI plans to sell about 100 cars in Australia this year, plus 10 in New Zealand.

That’s about the same as the number sold in 2009, when the global financial crisis struck Australia’s new car market, but well down on the 163 Ferraris sold in Australia in 2008.

This year the sales split is expected to comprise up to 60 examples of the 458, 50 California convertibles and about 10 versions of the near-$700,000 599 GTB and 612 Scaglietti V12 flagships.

EAI says that some 90 per cent of 458 customers will be existing Ferrari owners, with 40 per cent of them purchasing an additional Ferrari, rather than replacing their existing model.

That’s in contrast with the California, which at $459,650 is now the entry-level Ferrari model in Australia and has attracted a higher proportion of female buyers than ever. A surprising 70 per cent of California customers have never owned a Ferrari.

EAI says the two biggest “conquest” brands for the California are Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, with many buyers previously being owners of SL and 911 cabriolets.

In Australia, just two per cent of all Ferraris sold go to female buyers, but 10 per cent of California customers are now women – both here and globally. In China, some 20 per cent of all new Ferraris are not bought by males.

While just half of all Californias sold here are red, a higher than average 90 per cent of all 458 models ordered so far will come in the most traditional Ferrari paint colour.

Available as solid, metallic and pearlescent paint options, other exterior 458 colours include black, silver, white, grey and a “stunning” pearlescent yellow paint option, which adds about $30,000 to the price, while a range of ‘historic’ hues are also available.

Similarly, tan remains the most popular leather interior colour scheme, but a larger range of personalisation options than ever is expected to see about a $100,000 worth of options continue to be sold with each 458 – not including the standard car cover.

They include familiar options like satellite-navigation ($6650) and parking sensors ($4400), but also a range of seats (standard, racing and carbon-fibre, each available with a ‘dedication plate’ featuring the owner’s name) and leather trim colours and stitching styles.

The first Australian-delivered 458 came with options including adaptive AFS headlights, power seats, a yellow tachometer, different front quarter panels with embedded Prancing Horse badges, and yellow brake callipers (carbon-ceramic brake rotors have been standard on all Ferraris for about two years).

Mr Willims said he was surprised at the prices commanded by new supercars such as the circa-$750,000 Lexus LFA, relative to established brands like Ferrari, which he pointed out offered unrivalled residual values.

“Ferrari’s retained value is untouched by any other brand,” he said. “Why pay outrageous money for a car with no credibility?” As with Ferrari’s previous entry-level coupe models, the new two-door berlinetta will spawn an entire 458 Italia model family, including coupe, Spider convertible, stripped-out Scuderia and Challenge racecar derivatives.

As part of a Fiat group restructuring plan announced in April, Ferrari revealed it would launch six new models by 2013, including a replacement for the 612 Scaglietti in the first half of next year, the 458 Spider in the second half of 2011, replacements for the 599 and top-shelf Enzo in 2012, and a facelifted California and 458 Scuderia in 2013.

Spy shots of the upcoming 458 Challenge racer have already surfaced on the internet, while the topless 458 Spider is expected to come with a folding soft-top roof rather than a metal hard-top as seen on the California and Maserati’s upcoming GranCabrio.

However, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo recently told Autocar that a 458 Scuderia was not yet on the Maranello maker’s agenda.

“We have no intention to do Scuderia version of the 458 yet. It would be difficult to do it better,” he said.

That hasn't stopped local Ferrari enthusiasts plonking down money for potential future models that won't be available here for up to seven years, if at all.

“We have depositors for almost anything Ferrari is likely to build,” said Mr Willims. “I can bet that as people collect this car they’ll be putting down a deposit for the next model in six or seven years.” The 458 is powered by a 419kW/540Nm 4.5-litre V8 matched exclusively with Ferrari’s ‘F1’ seven-speed sequential double-clutch gearbox, which dispenses with the six-speed manual that was also available on its 430 predecessor.

Australian demand for manual Ferraris is even lower than in the US, with just two manual examples of the 430 and 599 ever sold here.

Weighing just 1380kg, Ferrari’s newest two-seat coupe is 70kg lighter than the 430 and accelerates to 100km/h in 3.4 seconds, eclipsing the 430’s four seconds and making it both lighter and faster than the stripped-out 430 Scuderia and quicker at Ferrari’s Fiorano test track than even the discontinued Enzo flagship.

"Australian deliveries have started a little earlier than planned because the interest in this remarkable car has been so great that the car has been air-freighted to Australia," said the general manager for Ferrari in Australia and New Zealand, Kevin Wall.

"Even before it was announced we have had Australian clients expressing interest in the 458 Italia and, once its specification was announced, revealing it to be, even by Ferrari standards, a technical tour de force, interest has climbed dramatically and shows no sign of slowing.”

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