Ferrari 458: My poster car

Vrithik Mehta  /
12 Oct 2018 19:01:18 IST

My passion for cars started in 2006, when my father and I watched Scuderia Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher claim first place at Ferrari's home race in Monza. I didn't know what I could have thought of it then, for me I was just supporting my father's favourite team. However, this was the beginning of an obsession with the fairytale brand that Ferrari is.

2009 was when the Ferrari 458 Italia emerged from the factory gates at Maranello, replacing the Ferrari F430. In my opinion, it was the most beautiful modern-day supercar produced. More than a decade later it still looks spectacular from every angle and looks better than a lot of newer supercars launched after it. The 458's ancestry dates back to the 1960's Ferrari Dino, the car named after Enzo Ferrari's son. That introduced the concept of the 'baby Ferrari' which was the first mid-engined car of the iconic sportscar brand. However, the 458 - the ninth generation from this mid-engined fleet - was no baby.

The 458 was a huge leap forward from its predecessor, the F430, technologically, mechanically and aesthetically. The 458 Italia wasn't based on the F430, but was built from the ground up with an all-new aluminum enforced chassis that not only improved performance but also took the game forward significantly with its stunning design.

The brilliantly sculpted bodywork was courtesy of Donato Coco of Pininfarina. Pininfarina was responsible for some of the greatest Ferraris ever made, including the Ferrari Testarossa, Ferrari Dino 246 GTS and the F12 Berlinetta. With its gorgeous lines the 458 was the perfect shape for the glorious 4.5-litre V8 that sat in the middle of the drama.

The V8 engine is mated to a twin-clutch automatic gearbox which can shift up or down in less than 50 milliseconds. The motor produces 570PS at 9,000rpm, good enough to propel the car to 100kmph from standstill in a mere 3 seconds. This made the 458 quicker than the F430 around the Fiorano test track even on standard road tyres. Ferrari had aimed for perfection in every department to offer the purest driving experience when developing the 458, and have achieved it.

When the car was showcased first, as a nine-year-old, I didn't know what it was. All I knew was that it was a red Ferrari and that I wanted one. However, as I matured and learned more about the car and its details, I fell in love with the 458 all the more. It was the car that every boy had a poster of and wanted to own.

However, it was also the last car of its breed. With the supercar industry moving to smaller, turbocharged engines from naturally aspirated ones, the 458 was the last naturally aspirated mid-engined V8 Ferrari. To this day when I see a 458, I feel like a little boy with an irrational love for it.

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