After using such evocative names as ‘Challenge Stradale’ and ‘Scuderia’ on its predecessors (the 360 and F430), the options were limited for a lightweight version of the 458.

So why not simply call it “Speciale”? For that’s already what the 458 Italia is, and with more power and less weight the end-result can only be very special indeed.

Foregoing the forced-induction route used by its nemesis (the Porsche 911 Turbo), Ferrari have managed to extract a mind-blowing 596bhp at 9000 rpm from its normally-aspirated 4.5-litre V8 engine – achieving 133bhp per litre. And just in case you think that sounds a little ‘peaky’, it translates into 398 lb-ft (540 Nm) of torque at 6000 rpm, or around the same as the turbocharged 3.0-litre engine powering the new M4 Coupé.

That compares with 120bhp per litre for the F430 Scuderia and.. well, nothing else, for no other car maker comes close to such feats of alchemy with little more than gasoline and air. Ferrari say “it’s the highest ever achieved by a road-going naturally aspirated engine” and represents a 35bhp increase over the 458 Italia.

Despite the new 911 Turbo S getting close to its power output (with 552bhp), the “Speciale” has another trick up its sleeve – weight.

As with its predecessors, the 458 is feathery light compared to those rear-engined cars from Stutgart. The 458 Speciale weighs 1290 kg without fluids which is 90kg less than the 458 Italia, around 250kg less than a 911 Turbo and 70kg less than the 468bhp 911 GT3 Clubsport.

Despite all this wizardry it’s not the fastest series production Ferrari. Excluding LaFerrari which will only be made for selected customers, the F12berlinetta is half a second quicker than the 458 Speciale around Ferrari’s Fiorano circuit.

Still, 1 minute 23.5 seconds is 1.4 seconds per lap faster than the Enzo Ferrari, which shows just how far Ferrari’s ‘entry level’ supercar has come in less than a decade.

Straight line performance is nearly as impressive as its Fiorano lappery, with zero to 62mph covered in 3.0 seconds, zero to 124mph in 9.0 seconds, and despite this still managing to achieve 275 g/km in CO2 emissions.

Model Fiorano Lap Time
LaFerrari approx. 1’19.90
Ferrari F12berlinetta 1’23.00
Ferrari F458 Speciale 1’23.50
Ferrari 599 GTO 1’24.00
Enzo Ferrari 1’24.90
Ferrari 458 Italia 1’25.00
Ferrari F50 1’27.00
Ferrari F40 1’29.60
Ferrari 288 GTO 1’36.00

Advanced active aerodynamics

There’s more to the 458 Speciale than its engine though. Ferrari’s stylists, in cooperation with Pininfarina, designed the car around a system of movable front and rear aerodynamics, which balance downforce and cut drag making the 458 Speciale the most aerodynamically efficient production car in Ferrari history (with an E Index of 1.5).

Moveable flaps at the front activate at around 105mph which reduce drag and generate more downforce, resulting in greater driver confidence and control at high speeds. This goes some way towards helping it achieve a jaw-dropping 1.33 g in lateral acceleration – the highest ever achieved by a Prancing Horse car.

There are also side vanes ahead of the rear wheelarches and a new rear diffuser and spoiler – much like that introduced on the LaFerrari hypercar.

  • Ferrari-458-Speciale_G2
  • Ferrari-458-Speciale_G5

Move over LaFerrari..

Perhaps the most speciale bit of tech is something Ferrari call their Side Slip Angle Control System (SSC), which makes it easier to balance the car on the limits of grip while offering a playful dose of sideways action. The Speciale’s chassis also uses a firmer set of magneto-rheological dampers than the standard 458 Italia, trading some of the standard car’s suppleness for even firmer body control.

SSC monitors the car’s slip angle, comparing it against a target value, and then optimises the amount of torque delivered to the wheels via the Speciale’s traction control and electronic differential. It sounds like a recipe for ‘fun’, something which the 458 Italia has never been lacking.

Michelin’s Pilot Sport Cup2 tyres were specifically honed for the 458 Speciale, and designed to provide consistent performance over numerous laps and be usable in wet conditions – Michelin’s Cup tyres normally struggle on streaming wet roads and when the road temperature falls below 7 degrees centigrade.

The 458 Speciale makes its world debut at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show when there’ll be more content to view. Ferrari will update the special launch site on the 10th September, so make sure you check it out or keep an eye out for further news here on SkiddMark.