They say racing improves the breed. To see the truth in that, look no further than the 458 Italia that Ferrari will unveil next month at the Frankfurt auto show.
The boys from Maranello released a bunch of photos of the awesome 458 today, and the coolest thing about the car — aside from its drop-dead gorgeous styling — is the high-tech steering wheel. It looks like it was pulled straight out of Felipe Massa’s Formula 1 car.
Modern F1 cockpits are amazingly tight. So tight, in fact, that the traditional “dashboard” with a row of gauges and switches are a thing of the past, like skinny tires and fat drivers. Almost everything is mounted on the steering wheel. This not only makes sense from a packaging standpoint, but also from a safety and control angle as well. It lets drivers keep their hands on the wheel, which is always a good thing.
Ferrari cribbed the idea when designing the 458. All the main inputs are on the steeering wheel, and the secondary inputs are located on two “satellite pods” to either side. The pods frame a comprehensive instrument panel that keeps the driver informed and concentrating on the task at hand — tearing up a twisty road.
Gone are the steering-column-mounted stalks you find on most cars. Switches for turn indicators, high beam, wiper controls and the like are buttons on the steering-wheel boss. The button to change the shock absorber settings — the “manatino” that debuted in the sublime F430 — now falls readily to hand next to that big red “Engine Start” button. You can’t see them in the pic, the controls for the stereo system (as if you’d want to listen to anything but the glorious V-8 singing behind your head) are on the back of the steering wheel. Ferrari also lengthened the shift paddles, making gear changes even easier from any steering angle.
On the outside, it’s still the same elegant styling of the 458, which is quite reminiscent of the Millechili design study. Most Ferraris look like they’re going 100 miles an hour standing still, but the 458 looks like it’s doing 200. And of course, with the 4.5-liter V-8 sitting underneath the rear deck lid, the 458 Italia can pull off those kinds speeds, nessun sudore.
The new mill cranks out around 570 horses and 398 pound-feet of torque, thanks to direct injection fuel delivery. That’s significantly more power than the V-8s that we’ve seen out of Maranello in the past, and the engine is surprisingly efficient for the power it produces. It emits 320 g/km of CO2 and drinks only 13.7 liters of fuel for every 100 clicks on the Euro combined cycle. That’s 17.1 mpg on this side of the Atlantic — about the same as the Nissan GT-R, Chevrolet Corvette and Audi S5, to name a few.
Power will flow through a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission, and everything is bolted to an aluminum chassis. Look for a 0 to 60 time of 3.4 seconds and a top speed just north of 200 mph. Ferrari will pull the sheet off the car at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and we’ll bring you more then.
Originally posted 2009-09-04 08:12:51.