Second-hand Ferraris in Belfast: an Italian titan in the shadow of the Titanic
Ferrari is offering extended warranties on its second-hand cars – is it a sign of recessionary times, or a sign that Ferrari has gotten smart?
Yes, it is, and it’s simply because Ferrari has gotten smart and realised that many people’s first ownership encounter is with a second-hand Ferrari. Keen to keep buyers within the factory family, Ferrari has worked out that if you give used buyers the sort of care and attention that you give new buyers, the one eventually becomes the other.
There is another factor, and that’s the traditional perception of Ferraris as highly-strung, fragile cars. Certainly the likes of Porsche and Bentley have a much more robust image when it comes to everyday use, and Ferrari North Europe’s regional manager Matteo Torre confirmed to The Irish Times that reversing that perception was a key driver behind the Genuine Maintenance programme.
“I think our customers want to buy a car that is reliable and where they can track the history of the car,” he said. “We are so sure about the reliability of our cars that we have decided to give, all over the world, the seven years’ maintenance programme, including the parts.”
No Latin histrionics
Well, the 458 we drove certainly didn’t feel as if it needed anything new. There were no Latin histrionics in traffic, no stalling (the twin-clutch gearbox won’t let you do that) and no electrical maladies. The 458, with the right mix of chassis and gearbox settings, slides through morning Lagan-side traffic with the same smooth assurance you might expect from an Audi or a Lexus.
That all changes when we get out on to the quieter roads of the coast. Flick the fingertip-pleasing little Manettino switch to dial out the comfort settings and engage Race mode and the 458 becomes a proper snarling, prancing Ferrari. The engine noise from the 570hp V8 runs the gamut from low-bass burble to high-rev shriek, topped off with an artillery barrage of unburnt petrol making its way down the hot exhaust when you lift off the throttle. The paddle shifts (the traditional Ferrari chromed gearshift gate is, sadly, gone forever now) are lightning-fast and the 458 essentially handles like a giant, rocket-propelled go-kart. It’s pretty much viceless, even allowing you to slide the back end on the way out of damp roundabouts in the manner of a colossally expensive MkII Escort.
Now, all I need to do is scrape together the €200,000 asking price, and then the VRT on top. Ferrari may be offering its customers more now, but this is still a club with an exclusive entry price.