Ferrari 458 Speciale arrives with more power and more stripes

Alex Lloyd

You might think the Ferrari 458 — a car many experts rank as the ultimate machine on the market today — needs no tinkering. The problem, however, is that the McLaren 12C routinely spanks the Prancing Horse during external testing, despite testers often preferring the vibrant soul of the Ferrari. Given the historic rivalry between the Italian giant and the British Formula One team, the 458 Speciale looks set to close the performance gap, while maintaining the car's inherent personality.

In the same vein as the 360 Challenge Stradale and F430 Scuderia, the 458 Speciale is a track-ready, lightweight monster, sporting 34 extra ponies from the 4.5-liter V-8 than the 458 Italia, bringing the total to 596 hp. Now weighing just 2,844 lbs., 60 mph occurs in less than three seconds, while reportedly pulling the highest lateral acceleration of any Ferrari in history, at 1.33g. Shedding 1.5 seconds off the 458's previous best lap time around Fiorano, the Speciale sits a mere half-second off the more powerful F12 Berlinetta, thanks in part due to honed Michelin Pilot Sport Cup2 tires.

Aiding its speed are moveable aerodynamic elements, maximizing downforce through the corners while minimizing drag on the straights. Ferrari's new Side Slip angle Control system (SSC) helps distribute torque efficiently by analyzing the car's slip angle and comparing it against predetermined target values.

Aesthetically, notwithstanding the eye-catching stripes, the 458 Speciale ditches the three-exhaust layout of the 458 Italia/Spider in favor of a two-exhaust system and a more thorough rear diffuser. We'll set eyes upon the Ferrari 458 Speciale when it makes its first public appearance at the Frankfurt auto show in a few weeks. Next time a comparison test occurs between the Ferrari 458 and McLaren 12C, the Brits may now have a fight on their hands.