Ferrari unveiled today the all-new 458 Spider, the convertible version of the 458 Italia. As expected, the car is equipped with a Ferrari patented, fully retractable hard top, a world first for a sports car with this lay-out. Power comes from the same naturally-aspirated, direct-injection 4.5 litre V8 engine found on the coupe version, the same engine to receive the “2011 International Engine of the Year” award.
Moreover, the 570 hp delivered by the engine are transferred to the wheels via Ferrari’s class-leading dual-clutch F1 paddle-shift transmission through the sophisticated E-Diff, integrated with the F1-Trac traction control and high-performance ABS for maximum handling dynamics. The car can sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 3.5 seconds and has a top speed in excess of 200 mph or 320 km/h.
Regarding the new aluminum hard-top, this also offers a number of advantages over the traditional folding soft-top, including a reduction of 25 kg in weight and a deployment time of just 14 seconds.
The roof is integrated into the styling of the car, but what is really interesting is that due to the small space needed to house it, the engineers were able to include a generous rear bench for luggage behind the seats.
Moreover, in order to provide maximum comfort for its passengers, the vehicle features a generously-sized adjustable electric wind stop, designed to be held even at speeds over 200 km/h. Furthermore, the new technical solutions adopted for the chassis deliver the same identical levels of structural rigidity with the roof up or down.
Every product that comes out of Ferrari is lauded everywhere for being innovative. However throughout the company’s history, there have been models that one can say deviated from the norm and stood out. This is true when it comes to the new Ferrari 458 Italia. Everything about this model is new. From the design, to the engine, and the aerodynamics. Even the ergonomics, and instrumentation are new, as well as the handling.
These are just some of the new things in the 458 Italia. In fact, this model is a huge leap forward from the mid-rear engine sports cars of the company. As such, the 458 Italia is a combination of the advanced technology, passion, style, and creative elegance. These are the qualities for which Italy has long been known for. It is the main reason why the company decided to use the name and the number for the model instead of the number of cylinders or the displacement.
Indeed, the Pininfarina design is more than enough proof that the new 458 Italia is different from the previous models. By using an aerodynamic and compact shape, it helps highlight its lightness, efficiency, and simplicity. These are the same principles that started this project in the first place.
As what can be expected from the Ferrari model, aerodynamic efficiency is the main focus especially with the 140 kilograms of downforce created when the car reaches 200 km/h. It goes without saying that this two-seater berlinetta gets its advantage from the company’s Formula 1 experience, a concept that it followed for many of its road-going vehicles. This becomes apparent when looking at the precision and the speed within which the 458 Italia is able to react to the input made by the driver.
The company also made sure to concentrate on lowering the engine’s internal friction in order to give it reduced fuel consumption. When compared to the F430, fuel consumption is lower even when the 458 Italia has increased power and better overall displacement. In terms of design, the front end makes use of a single opening for the side air intakes and the front grille. There are also aerodynamic segments that were designed to channel air to the flat underbody and the coolant radiators.
The small aerolastic winglets on its nose contribute in creating downward force as the speed increases. It also deforms in order to lower the section of its radiator inlets and thus reduce drag. Another new feature is the chassis, though it is still composed of aluminum. However engineers at its Maranello-based facility managed to include different kinds of advanced alloys in addition to having manufacturing and bonding methods derived from the aerospace industry.
For vehicle dynamics, the suspension of the 458 Italia makes use of a multi-link set-up for the rear with twin wishbones for the front. These have been tuned in order to achieve excellent handling and optimal road-holding. Combined with a more direct steering ratio, it gives faster body control and turn-in all the while having excellent ride comfort. Interior-wise, the 458 Italia continues to have that athletic quality.
One can see that there is a new layout and there is even an innovative ergonomic interface where its main clusters have been housed in its steering wheel. With the E-Diff and F1-Trac integrated to each other and controlled with one ECU, their corresponding mappings is larger. Specifically when compared to the models before it, the longitudinal acceleration when coming out of corners is larger by 32%. Its control logic has evolved, giving more accurate and faster calculation of the grip levels.
This guarantees that road-holding is greater with handling made better and with seamless control on its limit. The ECU manages the high-performance ABS, resulting in greater efficiency and precise control of its logic threshold.
These brakes have a prefill function where the pistons that are in its callipers are able to move the pads to come into contact with its discs during lift off in order to minimize any delays when the brakes are applied. All of these combined cut the 100-0 km/h braking distance to 32.5 meters. While the 458 Italia is able to show its racing experience through the technological transfer, it is not limited to this. It can do this on a more emotional level considering that it emphasizes on giving the driver and the car a nearly symbiotic relationship. Racing practice has caused the 458 Italia to deliver an advanced driving environment given the new dashboard and steering wheel.
Playing an important part on the development of the 458 Italia was Michael Schumacher who provided input and was with the project from the start. It is obvious that through the 458 Italia, Ferrari has managed to add a unique version to its 8-cylinder line-up. With this, Ferrari has two models that have the same design DNA inspired by racing. While they each cater to different customer types, both are fun to drive and are athletic, as expected from a Ferrari model. The Ferrari California for example is for those who want a sports car that is versatile yet practical. Meanwhile the Ferrari 458 Italia is for those who want true on-road performance with some racing capability but still want a vehicle that can be used for a daily drive.