"With its good looks, and sensational performance, the Ferrari 458 Italia is the best and most exciting car to come out of the firm's factory gates for more than a decade."
The Ferrari 458 Italia redefines expectations of supercar performance, as it delivers incredible speed and handling with a surprising helping of comfort. Luxury and exclusivity are assured, too, with the Ferrari's hand-trimmed cabin offering some of the most comfortable and supportive leather seats money can buy. It uses a high-revving 562bhp 4.5-litre V8 engine, which delivers sensational performance. The 458 Italia's steering wheel looks like it comes straight from a Formula 1 car, as it features a range of buttons and switches that operate everything from the windscreen wipers and indicators to the suspension stiffness and the speed of the gear changes. As a result, there are no column stalks behind the wheel, and this has made room for a pair of paddles which are used to change gears - there is no manual gearlever on the centre console. These operate the seven-speed dual clutch gearbox, which changes gear in the blink of an eye. Carbon ceramic brakes are fitted as standard, and these provide immense stopping power that's easily capable of repeatedly bringing the 202mph supercar back to standstill without fading.
Boasting a top speed of 202mph and capable of a 0-62mph sprint in a stomach wrenching 3.4 seconds, the Ferrari 458 Italia is one of the fastest and best handling cars on the road. The 4.5-litre V8 engine produces 562bhp and revs to a sky-high 9,000rpm, which provides aural thrills for driver, passenger and onlookers alike. If you want to take things easy, simply turn the Manettino dial on the steering wheel and the 458's hi-tech electronics transform it from a fire-breathing racing car into a comfortable sports car in an instant.
Other Ferraris are better suited to covering long distances, but the 458 is more comfortable than you might think. Adaptive suspension is the secret, as it responds to all types of driving - both relaxed and aggressive, on a wide range of road surfaces. The interior is a work of art too, the fully adjustable seats are amazingly supportive and comfortable, with ample legroom for even the tallest of occupants.
Modern day Ferraris are precision built with Formula 1 levels of engineering, and as a result are very reliable. The 458 is no exception and feels incredibly well made. Several early models did catch fire due to a manufacturing fault, but a full recall was carried out and there have been no reported cases since. Both the driver and passenger receive front and side airbags. The hi-tech E-Diff system manages power delivery and the F1-Trac traction control both now work in unison with the ABS in order to ensure that the 458 Italia sticks to the road in all but the worst driving conditions.
This is a mid-engined, low-slung, two-door coupe, so practicality isn't really a priority. Once passengers have lowered themselves into the 458's beautifully made cabin, all the heating and stereo controls point to the driver, which makes them tricky to reach from the passeneger side. There's a small boot under the front bonnet and storage space behind the seats, but this is only really suitable for soft bags - Ferrari does offer custom made luggage kits to fit both areas, though. The indicator switch is on the steering wheel, rather than on a stalk behind the wheel, and this requires some getting used to, especially when making tight turns into side roads or when leaving roundabouts.
Value for money
The 458 Italia is hugely expensive, but that hasn't deterred buyers, as there's currently a two-year waiting list. The asking price is almost identical to that of the McLaren MP4-12C, and you get one of the fastest cars that money can buy. All mdoels come fitted with Ferrari's latest seven-speed fully automated manual gearbox, climate control, leather seats and a whole host of advanced electronic stability and traction control systems. Optional equipment includes sat-nav and a rear parking camera, and there's also huge scope for personalisation of interior trim and exterior, including wheels and body colour. However, options are very expensive.
As most Ferrari 458 Italia buyers will have a healthy bank balance behind them, they will rarely worry about running costs. Fuel consumption is best described as poor, returning 20mpg at very best, usually a lot worse if the car is to be driven as the maker intended. Emissions are also extremely high, resulting in an annual tax disc of £460 and massive company car costs. Expect servicing, tyres and replacement parts to be expensive, too.