Is the 458 Speciale A the best modern Ferrari?
The last naturally-aspirated V8 from Ferrari may have valid points to prove you it's better than a Pista or a LaFerrari.
Ferrari’s are like that. They have this amazing capability to buzz all our senses around. They are noisy, pretty, and the leather seats smell amazing. And, whether you’re a petrolhead, or not, the cars from Maranello have always managed to make heads turn. That’s because Ferrari’s are all about passion. But is there still space for any kind of reason?
What you are looking at here is the Ferrari 458 Speciale A. A car that cost a mere $325'000 when it came out in 2014. This particular model costs over $550'000... Why? That's the magic of speculation and rarity, and when both go hand in hand, it significantly raises asking prices. Also, the 458 Speciale A happens to be the last Berlinetta from Ferrari to be equipped with a naturally-aspirated V8. Even its replacement, the 488 Pista, can't manage to do a greater exhaust note. But it is not only about the sound. We truly believe that it is one of the best modern Ferraris ever.
If you thought that the Ferrari 458 was amazing enough. You’re wrong. That’s why they came out with a faster, lighter, and more aerodynamic model called the Speciale (Special in English). And if you thought that the 458 Speciale was special enough well, you’re wrong again. The crazy Italians created a 499-limited edition convertible version called the Speciale Aperta (Special Open in English). This is not just a simple evolution, they re-thought the entire car. The naturally-aspirated V8 went from 570HP to 605HP, and the overall weight decreased by 90kg. This is a track-ready car. Like the F430 16M before it, the 458 SA focuses on carbon fiber and other stuff that makes it go on a diet.
When an F12 TDF is fast but feels to big of car, and a LaFerrari gets spoiled by electric engine, the 458 Speciale A is like everything they did in the good old days. A compact naturally-aspirated V8 sports car that feels raw. The result is a car that handles like a dream and sounds heavenly. For Ferrari, this car marked the end of an era. Don’t get me wrong, the turbo'ed replacements (488 GTB and F8 Tributo) are immensely fast, and even though you will barely even notice the turbo lag, unless you’re Sebastian Vettel, the new cars feel a bit too tamed, too perfect. The 458 Speciale A feels more brutal, more dangerous. Which should not be specifically what you would be looking for in a car, but in this case it brings a lot of excitement. Isn't that what a sports car is supposed to do in the end? Five years later, the performance figures are still mind-blowing. Standstill to 100 km/h takes only 3.0 seconds and the 458 will reach a top speed of 320 km/h. The Pista does the 0-100 km/h in 2.85 seconds and reaches a top speed of 340 km/h. All in all, not much of a huge difference.
Then comes the looks. The 458 hasn't aged a bit and the design is near perfection. The moment you step your eyes on it and admire the perfect proportions, and tortured lines. It looks like it is going to kill you the instant you put your foot on the accelerator. Who doesn’t like that? The happy endeavor continues when taking place inside. The interior is strictly focused on the driver. And like in an F1 car, everything is engaged through the steering wheel. You press on the red power button. The V8 wakes up, and it is as loud as an Italian “nonna” barking on the kids who refuse to eat her pasta.
So, how does it drive? Like Porsche’s 911 GT3, the 458 SA is a race car for the open road. Obviously, it is not as comfortable as a Mercedes S-Class. But who cares? It is everything you want a sports car to be. The gearbox seems like it directly came from an F1, the steering is as precise as a GT2 track car, and, obviously, the engine did not win engine of the year in 2011, 2012 and 2014 for nothing. If you've still haven't reached nirvana yet press on the drop-top button and start looking for tunnels.
To conclude, we can't emphasize enough that the 458 Speciale A is an amazing piece of automobile. We are not against technological progress and obviously the 458 is a high-tech sports car. But it manages to make you forget these technologies and make you focus on the important stuff like the engine and the driving. The car has this old-school vibe that is very appreciated, especially when you see that more and more Ferraris rely on super computers to make you go faster. It doesn't mean that cars like the F8 Tributo or the Pista aren't engaging and fun. It just shows that the 458 relies more on the driver and it won't let you take the easy way. We don't doubt that Ferrari will keep on making fun, engaging and high performance cars, but please Ferrari, make them as rough, raw and crazy as the 458 Speciale Aperta.
Ferrari 458 Speciale A
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Perego Cars, situated in Switzerland, for giving me the opportunity to review and shoot this car. Website: www.peregocars.com/en Facebook: www.facebook.com/peregocars/ Instagram: www.instagram.com/peregocars/