Frankfurt auto show: Hardcore 458 to keep Ferrari fans happy
Firm will invest up to €2bn in engine development over next five years
Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo presents the new Ferrari 458 Speciale at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Photo: Reuters
You do start to worry that Ferrari is running out of names to give its cars. After decades of models with evocative names such as Modena, Fiorano, Enzo and Scaglietti, this year we have seen the LaFerrari (‘TheFerrari’) and now the 458 Speciale - which translates as, um, Special.
Still, while not much imagination is being shown on the naming front, Ferrari does at least seem to be putting in the effort when it comes to the engineering, just as you might expect. A tweaked and tuned version of the (hardly slugglish) 458 Italia, the Speciale punches hard with some pretty spectacular performance. It has an extraordinary weight-power ratio of 2.13 kg/hp, 0-100 km/h acceleration in 3 seconds, lateral acceleration of 1.33 g and a Fiorano lap time of 1’23”5. Even the control systems are fast, with Ferrari claiming a response time to commands of just 0.060 seconds.
It has the most powerful naturally aspirated engine that Ferrari has ever produced for a road car, with the 4.5-litre V8 now pumping out 605hp at a screaming 9,000rpm. Its specific output of 135hp per litre is also, claims, Ferrari, the highest ever recorded by a road car.
Ferrari has worked hard on the car’s aerodynamics, with patented mobile aerodynamic solutions at the front and the rear of the car which ensure that different aerodynamic configurations can be adopted in cornering, where maximum downforce is essential, and on straights where, instead, drag must be reduced to a minimum.
Of particular note are the innovative solutions adopted at the front of the car, with two vertical flaps in the centre and the horizontal flap below them. At relatively low speeds, the vertical flaps are closed, channelling air into the radiators to guarantee the necessary cooling for the engine. However, at speeds in excess of 170 km/h, the flaps open, reducing the volume of air flowing into the radiators, thereby cutting drag. At speeds of over 220km/h the horizontal flap lowers to balance downforce between the front and rear axles, leading to a 20 per cent shift in overall downforce towards the rear.
The turning vanes at either side of the front bumper slow the air flow which increases downforce, thereby shifting the aerodynamic balance 4 per cent over the front. Thanks to their shape, the aerodynamic fins ahead of the rear wheels increase downforce very much in the same way as the front turning vanes.
The rear spoiler has a larger surface area and more pronounced shape which has improved the efficiency of the underbody, increasing downforce. Moving the position of the tailpipes also allowed a new diffuser to be designed which optimises the extraction capacity of the underbody. The rear flaps have two different configurations: raised for high downforce and lowered to minimise drag. Sophisticated sensors and a specific algorithm allow the flaps to be lowered by as much as a 17° angle, thereby stalling the diffuser and reducing Cd by 3 points.
The traction control system has been tweaked too, to specifically give the maximum possible power to the rear wheels on the way out of a corner and, says Ferrari, to ‘greatly enhance driving enjoyment.’