This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to a showcasing of the new Ferrari 458 Italia at Ferrari of Long Island. Any time I arrive at the Ferrari dealer I find myself giddy as the place is like a big candy store for adults. F430’s, 599’s, the new 458 Italia and hell, even an Enzo was present. The showroom was filled with Ferrari fans from all over New York, all of which were waiting for a chance to climb behind the wheel and test out the new Ferrari’s 458’s ergonomics. The 458 Italia is a much more organic design than say the F430. Its lines are smooth and flowing with very few harsh angles. There are also cues taken from Ferrari’s past and present. The exhaust outlet for example is very like that of the amazing Ferrari F40 super car with it’s triple port exhaust. Look next at the rear haunches and taillights and you’ll see some styling ques taken almost directly from the Ferrari Enzo, in fact the entire rear of the car is very Enzo-ish.
I mulled around for awhile drinking some Pellegrino and snacking on some Penne that the Ferrari dealership served while I waited for my turn behind the wheel of Ferrari’s newest toy. One big question that I had was simple… would I fit. I have a close buddy that has an F430 and I was very surprised when I was able to slip behind the wheel of that without much drama, sure I was a bit cramped, but in the end who really cares. The line eventually thinned out and I put down my pasta and made my way over to the 458. Size wise exterior dimensions are very much like that of the F430, so if you have an F430 and your wondering if the 458 will fit in your garage, have no fear… it’ll fit.
Anytime I climb behind the wheel of a Ferrari and or any other super car I truly view it as a privileged. Very few people get to do what we, as journalists get to do and because of that it needs to be viewed as something special. As I slid behind the wheel I immediately notice that the 458 has a considerable amount more room than the F430. In fact when I adjusted the seat to reflect my driving position I not only had ample leg and shoulder room, but the head room was enough so that if I wanted to throw a helmet on for a track day I’d have no problem doing so. The 458 actually has more room for the driver than most sedans… amazing.
The dash layout on the 458 is something completely new as well. A big centralized tachometer is flanked on both sides by digital screens. The right side screen shows a digital representation of an analog speedometer, while the left window showa fuel, oil pressure, coolant temperature, etc. Its cool from a technology standpoint, but I still prefer the analog stuff. Ferrari also utilized more of a cockpit feel on the 458 as well with a small dial pod that juts out from the center of the dash. This pod acts somewhat like a control module for things like the audio system and on board computer. There was also something that I thought I would never see on a Ferrari sport coupe… a cup holder. It’s located at the end of the center console and while not big enough to cradle a Big Gulp, you’d be able to fit a large black and sweet in there with no problem.
Unfortunately I can’t comment on how the 458 is from a driving perspective. I can tell you though that its 4.5-liter V8 makes 562 HP and 398 lb-ft of torque which will send this little red sucker north of 200 mph and to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. So fear not Ferrari people, they have you covered in the speed department. In the end I came away with a pretty good first impression of what and why the Ferrari 458 Italia is what it is. This car needed to be more than competitive with other cars in the market, while at the same time offering creature comforts that appeal to a wider audience than the F430. There is more room for bigger drivers, computer screens that appeal to the Playstation generation and that little cup holder for the guys that just want to cruise on a Sunday morning. Keep in mind that this car is every bit a Ferrari as the ones before it, it has now become, from a comfort standpoint, more civilized and accommodating. Truth be told I’m not sure how Enzo Ferrari would feel about this, but I suppose like everything in life, compromises have to be made if you want to stay ahead of the curve and more importantly, the competition.