Ferrari 458 Italia’s V8 engine gets the ‘2011 Best Performance Engine’ award

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 18, 2011

The Ferrari 458 Italia’s 4499 cc V8 engine won the Best Performance Engine award at the 2011 International Engine of the Year Awards. There are numerous powerhouses in the world but Ferrari had been able to create a package that combines drivability, refinement, performance, and economy. In addition, the jury admired the 458 Italia’s engine for its distinctive sound.

The awards jury is composed of 76 motoring journalists from 36 countries who evaluate each aspect of the engine.

The new 4499 cc V8 is the first Ferrari direct injection engine to be mid-rear mounted. Like most racing engines, it has a very low piston compression height that helps it achieve its compression ratio of 12.5:1.

Racing technology, F1 specifically, has influenced the design of the engine components. The engine, which features the traditional flat-plane crankshaft, has an output of 570 hp at 9000 rpm and imposes a new benchmark for Ferrari’s entire range throughout history.

It also does the same for the entire market segment by attaining a power output of 127 hp per liter. Its maximum torque is 540 Nm (398 lbs-ft) at 6000 rpm, over 80% of which is available from 3250 rpm. Specific torque is a record 120 Nm/liter. The V8 now features the HELE (High Emotions Low Emissions) system, making it achieve a best-in-class 275 g/km of CO2. It also has a fuel consumption rating of only 11.8 l/100 km or about 20 mpg (ECE + EUDC combined cycle).

No matter where one looks, everything about Ferrari’s latest two-seater berlinetta offering is completely new. From the design, to the aerodynamics, and even the engine under the hood of the 458 Italia, everything is new. Even the ergonomics, instrumentation, and handling, among others, they are all new. Once the engine is started though, the sound that comes from it before being directed to the three rear tailpipes of the exhaust is more than proof that it is indeed a Ferrari.

With the engine being mated to the dual-clutch seven-speed transmission, this not only puts the performance of the 458 Italia on a higher level but it allows smooth shifts even when running at full throttle. Since the new V8 engine inside is more powerful than the previous version, the engineers needed to create customized gear rations in order to make the most of the higher output and impressive torque.

As a result, since the 458 Italia is able to reach high torque even when running at low engine speeds, it means that it will be able to reach peak speed when under the highest gear. Still, even with all that power, the new model manages to set new benchmarks as it has the best fuel economy and CO2 emission in its class. In terms of figures, fuel economy, at combined cycle, is at 13.7 l for every 100 km while CO2 emissions are at 320 g/km.

Similar to a number of the company’s previous models, the 458 Italia continues to follow the tradition of manufacturing by using its knowledge when it comes to Formula 1 Racing. Evidence of this is the accurate and fast way that the vehicle is able to react to the input given by the driver. Another example is that even if the 458 Italia is significantly better than the F430 in terms of power and displacement, fuel consumption is lower.

The reason for this is that the interior friction that is present in the engine has been lowered. While the 458 Italia does exhibit the company’s racing experience on the technological aspect, it also does the same to one’s emotion. The reason is that much importance was placed when it came to the relationship between the driver and the car. One way of doing this is the novel way in which the driving environment of the 458 Italia has been designed.

There is a new steering wheel, and even a new dashboard, both of which were inspired by racing practice. In fact, some of the input was made by none other than celebrated race car driver Michael Schumacher. Schumacher performed an important role and was part of the 458 Italia project since the beginning. The Pininfarina design is another new thing in the 458 Italia, which actually differentiates it from the prior models. By utilizing a smooth yet compact shape, the vehicle is able to highlight the values of efficiency, lightness, and simplicity, all qualities that started this project in the first place.

Indeed, it is clear that the style was inspired by the need to have aerodynamic efficiency. It is not a surprise then to know that the 458 Italia creates a downforce of merely 140 kg when at speeds of 200 km/h. On the front is a single opening where the grille and the side air intakes have been housed.

Since it has aerodynamic sections, the side was made sure that it would help channel the air now just to the underbody but more importantly to the coolant radiators. On its nose meanwhile are the small aeroelastic winglets which also helps create downforce as when the speed of the vehicle continues to rise, it deforms in order to the lower the section of the inlets of the radiator and ultimately reduce the drag.

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