Speciale by name, Speciale by nature
GT & Sport Cars
Autoweek put it most succinctly: “It’s called the 458 Speciale and the name is no lie”. Car & Driver declared it “Another Italian masterpiece” while La Gazzetta Dello Sport said: “It delivers a tank-full of adrenaline”. Evo announced: “The Ferrari 458 Speciale takes what is already one of the most extreme road cars you can buy and turns it up a notch further.” These are just some of the comments made by the publications that took part in the press test-drives of the 458 Speciale, which began last week in Maranello.
Journalists flocked to Maranello from all over the world for a first-hand experience of the talents of the Prancing Horse’s latest creation in the very place it was designed and built. The very area it was coaxed to its current level of prowess by Ferrari’s highly experienced test drivers Dario Benuzzi and Raffaele De Simone who had the job of smoothing its rough edges under the watchful eye of the technicians that designed it. The Fiorano Circuit and the winding roads of the Emilian Appenines, in fact, are the perfect double act when it comes to showcasing the car’s extreme sportiness and revealing the exhilaration that taking it along winding roads involving both multiple hairpin bends and fast corners, with changes in camber, will deliver, courtesy of its effortless control.
The technical features the journalists most applauded included the Side Slip Angle Control (SSC) system which Road & Track described as follows: “The new Side Slip Control, basically a super-clever bit of traction control software, designed to help ordinary drivers do extraordinary things in their 458 in complete safety, and available in Race and CT-off modes. The multitude of sensors providing info are the same as before, but now the ECU compares your current slip angle with what it thinks is acceptable for that curve given other data gathered, then tweaks the amount of differential locking action to suit. What that means is less time-sapping ESP intervention and the chance to pull off some Fangio-style four-wheel drifts through scary-quick fourth gear corners, even for non F1-grade drivers.”
The 458 Speciale’s active aerodynamics also caught the attention of the press test-drivers, including Top Gear’s correspondent: “At the tail, the spoiler is re-shaped, raised and moved back. This works hand-in-hand with the gaping lower diffuser, a triple-channel tunnel – the exhaust had to be re-shaped to make room for it. The diffuser causes drag though, so at 140mph three motorised flaps open down into the channels, stalling it and cutting the drag back. As soon as you turn the wheel, you need your downforce again, so the flaps pop shut. Meanwhile, also at 140mph, a passive vane in the nose opens to restore the front-rear balance. Oh and there are ‘turning vanes’ at the nose and fins over the sills ahead of the rear wheels, both further improving downforce, though only by a few kilos. They, like the stripes, probably add mostly psychological speed …”