Although not set to formally launch until this September in Frankfurt, Ferrari has just released photos and specs on its dramatically styled and technology-rich successor to the F430. Dubbed the Ferrari 458 Italia, this new mid-engine two-seat coupe is wrapped in Pininfarina-penned bodywork designed to optimize its high-speed aerodynamics and help it develop about 300 pounds of downforce at 125 mph. The front grille and intakes are contoured to optimize air flow to the car's radiators and direct it beneath the 458 Italia's flat floorpan while small forward "aeroelastic" winglets actually deflect as speeds rise to further trim drag.
Beyond its bonded aluminum-and-alloy monocoque, this new Ferrari matches its high-performance double-wishbone/multilink suspension with a new mid-rear-mounted 4.5-liter direct-injected V8 that makes a heady 570 horsepower -- 80 more than the F430 -- and 398 lb-ft of torque. Ferrari claims that its 125 ponies-per-liter are the most of any naturally-aspirated road car. Redlined at 9,000 rpm, it's also the highest-winding engine ever in a non-racing Ferrari. Backed by a Formula One-derived, addle-shifted seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that's also used in Ferrari's drop-top California model, it's capable of sending this 3,042-lb road rocket from 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 202 mph -- another first for a Ferrari V8-powered road car. But despite its awesome performance potential, this all-alloy V8 also is cleaner, greener and more fuel efficient than the F430's smaller and less-potent motivator.
The 458 Italia also benefits from the latest incarnation of Ferrari's E-Diff electronically controlled differential and its F1-Trac stability/traction system which. Now overseen by a single integrated computer module with improved mapping, Ferrari claims the car can develop nearly a third more longitudinal acceleration out of corners than the F430 and is also easier to control at the limit. Stopping power got a similar boost courtesy of a "pre-fill" function that automatically moves the pads on its massive anti-lock brakes into light contact with the rotors the moment a driver lifts off of the accelerator.
The 458 Italia's interior embodies an equally modern take on the man-machine interface, matching supple leather trim with superb ergonomic functionality that was fine-tuned by Ferrari's seven-time F1 champ Michael Schumacher. A large tachometer dominates the easy-to-read central gauge cluster and all of the car's main controls are located on its flat-bottom steering wheel, allowing the driver to quickly and easily make appropriate setup changes. Expect the 458 Italia to go on sale here sometime early next year, likely with a price starting beyond the $200K mark.