The Ferrari 458 Italia might “only” have a naturally-aspirated 4.5L V8 making “only” 562 horsepower, but it’s more than capable of keeping up with (if not shaming) even-more-super supercars with bigger and brawnier engines. In fact, the 458 managed to tie the Enzo’s fastest lap time of one minute and 25 seconds around Ferrari’s private test track, Fiorano. In fact, the 458 is part of a three-way tie, with the F430 Scuderia also doing a 1:25.
And speaking of the F430 Scuderia (and its predecessor, the 360 Challenge Stradale), isn’t it about time Ferrari got around to releasing a conceptually similar – i.e. more power, less weight and an overarching sense of badass-ness – version of the 458? Well, it looks like the suits in Maranello agree with us on that front. Say buon giorno to the latest hardcore-like-a-video-store’s-back-room V8 Fezza, the 2014 458 Speciale.
The 458 Speciale’s body features a unique front fascia with enlarged openings for the radiators and brake ducts plus reshaped and slatted extractor vents outboard of the headlights, a new front trunklid with a pair of extractor vents, reshaped rocker panels with shark-like fins, a new decklid with a taller ducktail spoiler, and a new rear fascia with a full-width grille, much larger diffuser and two big tailpipes mounted on either side of the diffuser’s tall midsection. These aerodynamic enhancements, combined with moveable aero bits at the front and rear (No word if these are power-operated or moved by the air itself a la lesser 458s’ front “whiskers.”), should endow the Speciale with considerably more stick than the already high-downforce-by-road-car-standards 458 Italia and Spider. And like the 360 Challenge and F430 Scuderia before it, the 458 Speciale will be available with various body and stripe color combinations, including, one would assume, the decidedly NART-esque red, white and blue regalia seen here.
The track-focused tradition continues when you climb inside. The interior is devoid of such decadences as carpeting, sound insulation, ergonomic door panels, and a full-fledge center console. However, Ferrari did add what appears to be cushion for the passenger’s knees in place of the standard 458’s glovebox. Naturally, the seats (at least the bits of the bottom cushions that we can see) will be less cushy and, therefore, lighter. As for the total curb weight, Ferrari claims the 458 Speciale will squish the scale to the tune of 2,844 lbs., which is a substantial drop from the 458 Italia’s 3,274 lbs. girth.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a hot rod version of a mid-engine Ferrari V8 if said V8 wasn’t also hot rodded. True to form, the 4.5L V8 has been massaged to produce 34 horsepower more than it does in Italia/Spider specification, for a total of 596hp. That works out to 132.4 horsepower per liter, a figure that the Prancing Horse people claim is the highest of any production atmo engine in history. Peak torque, on the other hand, holds station at 398 lb.-ft. Power delivery duties are still handled by a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and an electronically-controlled LSD.
That computerized diff, incidentally, is paired with a new system Ferrari calls Slide Slip angle Control (SSC). It constantly monitors the car’s angle relative to its direction of travel, and when they’re anything other than parallel, the system uses the E-Diff and the traction control system (F1-Trac) to keep the swerving and shimmying at levels the driver can (hopefully) manage. TL; DR? SSC will make you look like the next Fernando Alonso.
Let’s review: Better aerodynamics, less weight, more power, more trick driver aids and, oh yeah, hella gummy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup2 tires designed specifically for this application. That’s a recipe for thrills if ever there was one, and the Speciale doesn’t disappoint: Zero to 62 mph in 3.0 seconds, 1.33 g in the turns, and 1:23.5 to orbit Fiorano. Expect a sizable bump in price over the Italia, but don’t expect to hear any specific price premium to be named before the car makes its in-the-metal debut at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show.