- Available for £115,000
- 4.5 litre petrol V8, 7-speed DCT auto
- Superbly integrated chassis and powertrain
- Easy to drive quickly (and emotionally)
- Spiders are a lot dearer than coupes
- Prices might not get much lower
Few, if any, car brands have established such a close connection with Formula 1 as Ferrari. It's the only team to have competed in F1 without a break since the formula began 70 years ago. Company founder Enzo Ferrari never even planned to get into road car manufacture: he was all about the racing. The 1947-on road cars were built under sufferance to fund the racing effort.
Ferrari's reluctance to go down that public-facing route was never allowed to manifest itself in half-hearted products. The road vehicles bearing the prancing horse badge quickly became synonymous with power, luxury, finesse and craftsmanship - and the 458 Italia that was announced in 2009 and went on sale in 2010 was a superb reflection of Enzo's driven perfectionism.
Like its Frank Stephenson-designed 430 predecessor, the 458 was designed in collaboration with Pininfarina, but the headline designer for the new car was Donato Coco. Previously working for Citroen on the C2, C3 Pluriel, Xsara and C4, Coco also contributed to the 458, 430, California and 599XX. By the time the 458 went on sale however he was working for Lotus under Danny Behar.
The mid-engined 458's 4.5 litre naturally-aspirated dry-sump V8 (hence the 458 name) was another product of the Ferrari-Maserati joint project. It was a 9,000rpm masterpiece, channelling 562hp and 398lb ft through a fast Getrag 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and working with sophisticated aerodynamics, cutting-edge suspension and carbon ceramic brakes with FBP-F 'brake prefill' (delay-minimising calipers) to deliver blinding performance on both track and road. The 0-62 time was 3.4 secs, the top speed 202mph. Michael Schumacher reportedly played a part in the car's development. In another hat-tip to Formula 1, quite a few driver functions - even the indicators - were destalked and relocated to the steering wheel.
A track-only Ferrari 458 Challenge was announced in 2010. It had a stripped-out interior, thinner bodywork, polycarb windows, recalibrated transmission, stiffer/lower suspension, a 210mph top speed, and a 0-62 time of 2.9 sec. After Ferrari's usual one-year delay a Spider edition of the roadgoing 458 was launched at the 2011 Frankfurt Show. It was the firm's first mid-engined V8 hardtop convertible. Sadly, the Spider's redesigned bodywork hid the gorgeous engine from view and the extra body strengthening added 50kg to the overall weight, but on the plus side the twin humps doubled up as rollover protection, the 14-second retractable two-piece aluminium top was claimed to be considerably lighter than the old 430's soft top, and the rigidity and integrity of the 458 design was uncompromised by the chop.
The 458 Spider's 0-62 time was the same as the coupe's, but the top speed was slightly down at 199mph. More importantly the Spider managed to add even more emotion to the 458 experience. If you're interested in this sort of thing, Vicky Butler-Henderson was moved to tears while driving one around Italian country roads.
A high-performance 458 Speciale with 597hp, 398lb ft and a 0-62 time of 3.0 secs was revealed at the 2013 Frankfurt Show. The main physical differences between the Speciale and the regular 458 were the forged alloy wheels, vented bonnet, finned sills, larger rear spoiler, and a freer exhaust. Ferrari's SSC (side-slip angle control) system was introduced, working with the car's traction control and e-diff systems to add an extra edge of tuneability to on-limit handling.
A Speciale A (Aperta) convertible was announced at the following year's (2014) Paris Show. Just 499 examples were built in its one-year lifespan before the 458 was phased out in 2015/16, to be replaced by the 488. It's thought that the total number of 458s built over the six-year run is between 13,000 and 15,000.
SPECIFICATION | FERRARI 458 ITALIA
Engine: 4,499cc mid-mounted V8, 32v
Transmission: 7-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 562@9,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 398@6,000rpm
0-62mph: 3.4 secs
Top speed: 202mph
MPG (official combined): 21.2
Wheels: 8.5x20 (f), 10.5x20 (r)
Tyres: 235/35 (f), 295/35 (r)
On sale: 2010 - 2015
Price new: £178,000 (Spider £199,000)
Price now: from £115,000
Note for reference: car weight and power data is hard to pin down with absolute certainty. For consistency, we use the same source for all our guides. We hope the data we use is right more often than it's wrong. Our advice is to treat it as relative rather than definitive.
ENGINE & GEARBOX
The 458's flat-plane V8 used the same F136 block as the 430 but in the 458 it was bored out by 189cc to a new displacement of 4,497cc, with bigger pistons (obviously), new conrods, camshaft profiles, and a carbon fibre manifold. It also had different crankshaft specs. This turned into a problem for some US owners of 2012 (or thereabouts) cars which came out of the factory with incorrectly fitted crankshafts, leading to engine seizure. A recall was issued, taking in a couple of hundred cars. At least one high-mileage 458 has suffered from excessive camshaft wear.
When it was running right, however, the 458 motor was a deserving winner of multiple 'best engine' awards. The 430 was 35kg lighter than the 458, but the newer car's extra 80hp gave it a superior (and brilliant) power to weight ratio and made it around half a second quicker than the 430 through the 0-62. It was more dramatic, too. Unusually, max power didn't come in until the dizzyingly high red line of 9,000rpm was reached, 500rpm higher than the 430.
Meaningful urge was available from as little as 1,500rpm, with 80 percent of maximum torque at 3,250rpm, giving the owner a 'best of both worlds' choice of running it up through 7,500 revs in every gear or limiting the rpm range and substituting ratios for revs - an equally process thanks to the 458's 7-speed Getrag DCT 7DCL750 transmission (no manual option was offered). This 'box was also used (with longer ratios) in the Ferrari California, and in the Mercedes SLS.
You might not believe that last statement if you jumped straight from the 458 into an early SLS, because the DCT is noticeably slower in the German car. Mercedes recalibrated it for reliability over speed, and history may yet judge in their favour because transmission failures in early 458s are not unknown, whereas they pretty much are in the SLS. Again to Ferrari's credit, 458 customers experiencing serious transmission problems have been properly looked after. Clutch problems are often quite easily fixed through a software upgrade and/or a reset of the clutch positioning sensors, which is just as well as a whole new clutch assembly won't leave you much change out of £20,000.
The 458 exhaust has a much better reputation for longevity than some of its predecessors' more fragile systems. The OE sound is more bassy than that of an X-pipe aftermarket system or factory pipes whose valves have been pulled open. It's thought that the factory tuning was changed in around 2013 to reduce the amount of burbling, which might not be seen as a good thing. On the Spider, the exhaust routing and the silencer design were both changed to sidestep any turbulence-related issues when the roof was down.
The 90-litre fuel tank is big enough for 400 miles if you're attaining the segment-best combined mpg figure of 21.2, a useful feature for continental touring. The F40-ish triple-tip exhaust was a neat touch too. F40-related nerdy fact: the 458 lapped Ferrari's Fiorano test track in 1min 25secs, beating the F40 by nearly five seconds.
The 458's bag of chassis tricks includes 'aerolastic' radiator intake winglets that drop by 20mm at speed, venting air by the front light cluster, along with rear vents for gearbox coadaptive magnetorheological dampers. Ferrari claimed 140kg of downforce at 125mph, but perhaps the cleverest thing about the 458 is the utterly seamless way in which the CST stability and traction control systems (brake-related VDC Vehicle Dynamics Control and torque-modulating F1-Trac) work with 'regular' systems like ABS, EBD, ASR and the E-Diff 3.
The smoothness of the integration gave a claimed 32 percent increase in longitudinal acceleration out of corners and a 100km/h to zero braking distance of only 32.5 metres. Light weight undoubtedly helped with all that too. As usual there are a multitude of 458 weight guesses on the internet. We've gone for a figure of just under 1,500kg. With forged wheels and carbon seats Ferrari reckoned the 459 weighed just 1,380kg.
There are five manettino settings, from the 'low-grip' Level 1 for slippery conditions where ASR is preferred to F1-Trac, through Level 2 (Sport) for medium- to high-grip conditions, Level 3 (Race) where engine control is minimised and braking control maximised, Level 4 (CT OFF), a well-liked setting which deactivates F1-Trac traction control, letting you do smoky skids, but leaving some stability control in place to cope with 'excess' sideslip, and level 5 (CST OFF), where the regular systems (ABS, EBD and E-Diff 3) are running but VDC is only active under braking.
With everything switched on, the 458 is child's play to hustle around a racetrack. To get it round a corner you just have to brake (ceramics as mentioned, 398mm discs with six-piston alhard as you like. There'll be no stuttering or raggedness, just a perfectly managed power delivery to fire the car out of the exit, with more than enough engine howl to make sure it's not a drama-free experience - because nobody would want that from a Ferrari. Switching everything off puts you into a wilder, still controllable but less time-efficient world where it's in your interest to think (and short-shift) a little more.
Bigger gear paddles on the 458 allow drivers to forget about where their hands might be on the wheel when bashing along a twisty road. The steering rack is fast, two turns lock to lock, and if you're being super-picky it's maybe a bit light. On British roads the ride could be described as a little nibbly in all but the softest 'bumpy road' damper setting, but you're unlikely to mind that as the upside will be very rapid progress to your destination.
As we all know ceramic brake discs are expensive. An original equipment 458 disc will cost you £2,500 plus VAT. That's for one. The advantage of ceramics is that they last a long time. They come with a note on them telling you that the minimum working thickness is 35.5mm, but a mill goes a long way on one of these.
The geometry of the 458 can result in accelerated inner-edge tyre wear. Check the age lettering of the tyres as the low mileages that Ferraris traditionally cover can mean that even early 458s might still be running on the original rubber.
The 458's aluminium body was 5 percent stiffer and 15 percent more resistant to twisting forces than the 430's. You may feel a mild tremor through the Spider's body over rough groundgenerally speaking it's an extremely solid drive. The top on the Spider doesn't open on the move. The shallow aperture when it's down gives the car more the feel of a targa than a convertible.
Colours are very important in Ferrari world. Rosso Corsa is the Italian equivalent of British Racing Green and is referred to as 'resale red' for a reason. White is not a popular or valuable colour. The preferred colours for the leather interior of a Rosso Corsa car are nero (black) or tan.
Swirl marks in the paint are almost inevitable. Take a strong torch to highlight these and then decide if you'd like to give the car a paint correction. Machine polishing should get rid of almost all marks. A stage 1 MOP and valet will start at around £350 and paint protection film (PPF) to keep it fresh will be around £1,400 plus VAT.
Glue used to fix on the rear wheelarches turned out to be a bit too combustible on five of the earliest 458s which caught fire after being driven hard in warmer climates. A recall was issued to replace the glue with fasteners.
A warning light for the Adaptive Light Control might mean that you may need a new headlight module at around £150. If the new ECU doesn't work though you may have to look at replacing the headlight itself, which will be more than £2,000 plus VAT.
The 458 cabin easily fulfils the 'luxury' part of the Ferrari proposition. Style and quality are as reassuringly high as the price of entry to the 458 club, with a sensual curvaceousness to the interior surfaces that makes the 430 look dated. The optional 'Daytona' panelled seats are very nice and the carbon-backed options are fabulous if you like a racy look and feel and can live without height adjustment.
It's not all perfect though. The main swathe of leather on the dash top ahead of the passenger seat is known for rippling and rattles can sometimes make themselves known from that area when cruising with the exhaust valves closed. The coupe's headlining can detach itself from the roof, a flaw that will be familiar to 430 owners. Press all parts of the panel to make sure that there are no loose patches.
The sound system sounds good, and the two-knob, three-button interface to the right of the wheel looks great, but the soft-touch coating on the knobs (and on the steering column cover and dash top) can turn sticky in hot climates, and the functionality of the system leaves something to be desired. There's Bluetooth, but no option to play music through the system. You could get an iPod connector for the glovebox and play music through that as long as the car decided to recognise the iPod's existence, which it didn't always do.
Carbon fibre options were very expensive from the factory, but because owners could easily retrofit substantially cheaper non-factory carbon, factory CF on the engine, folding mirrors, deformable grille winglets and 'driver zone' (doors, dash etc) has a surprisingly small effect on used values. Similarly, the 'shift light' steering wheel is desired by buyers and may help to swing a sale but it won't necessarily inflate the purchase price. Same goes for front and rear park sensors, but the rear-view camera does add value as it takes a lot of stress out of otherwise difficult reversing. Even though the 458 actually has decent front end clearance for a car of this type, the front axle lift (operated by a button between the seats) is sufficiently sought after in used examples to boost prices.
458s are not free of electrical glitchery. Faulty fuel senders have been reported and the TFT screens and warning lights sometimes give problems. A passenger airbag recall is in the process of being sorted out as we speak.
There have been more than a few monumentally gifted mid-engined Ferraris. When comparing cars over a period of decades rather than years, choosing the 'best' one is as impossible as picking the best tennis player, skier or mountaineer, but most interested and informed commentators would put the 458 right up there in the pantheon of true greats.
For those traditionalists who considered 'black box', 'electronic intervention' and even 'ECU' to be among the very worst swear words, the 458 demonstrated beyond all argument that digital and analogue could not only work together but combine brilliantly to produce a fantastically athletic and agile chassis.
Unlike some other Italian supercars the 458 is entirely useable on a daily basis. The reliability record is very good and it has a better reputation for standing up to trackday use than the 430. From 2012 the 458 came with a 7-year service package covering all regular maintenance costs. We're beyond that period now but if the mileage on your car hasn't crossed the 56,000 mark and it passes all the checks you should be able to buy a Power Train warranty for £2,500 or so. As the name implies it covers you for the engine and gearbox, but not necessarily for the trick magnetic dampers which are around £3k a pair. Specialist centres will charge around £400 for an inspection and report, £600 for an oil and filter service, £800 for an annual service and just over £1,100 for a major service. Timing is by chain rather than belt.
Some market observers think that 458s - powered, let's remember, by Ferrari's last normally-aspirated V8 - may now be at something of a sweet spot for buyers, with road cars now going for as little as £115,000. More expensive cars with ultra low mileages do need to be approached with a degree of circumspection as they might not have made it through their teething problems yet. 10-20,000 milers could be better bets.
You'll find that the Challenge cars will be the cheapest 458s, mainly because you can't drive them on public roads. These start at under £110,000. The most affordable road-legal 458 on PH Classifieds at the time of writing was this privately owned 2013 car in black with nero Daytona seats. Its high-for-a-Ferrari mileage of nearly 42,000 has pegged the asking price down to £113,500, a price that includes a transferable warranty to next July.
Speciales are even more expensive. The cheapest right-hand driver on PH just now is this late 2016 car with 6,000 miles at nearly £220k. The rare Aperta Speciales predictably sit atop the 458 price heap, but you may be surprised by how far above the rest they sit. They routinely go for between £490,000 and, as with this blue one, the thick end of £600,000.
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