By KBB.com Editors
In the world of 2013 mid-engine exotics, it doesn't get much better than the Ferrari 458 Italia and Spider. Stunning levels of performance derived from Ferrari's lifetime involvement in Formula 1 give the 458 a distinctive edge over rival supercars like the Lamborghini Gallardo and Audi R8 V10 Plus. Positioned amidships underneath a clear rear hatch lies a 562-horsepower V8 that, in conjunction with a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox, enables a hair-raising sprint to 60 mph in less than 3.4 seconds. But it's the graceful way in which this power is delivered that makes the 458 such a favorite among the supercar elite. And for those who seek an all-out assault on the senses, the 458 Spider is widely considered the Holy Grail of open-top motoring.
If you're a diehard driving purist with a budget that knows no bounds, look no further than the 2013 Ferrari 458. It outclasses the McLaren MP4-12C in terms of visceral thrills, and its interior is racier than that of either the Lamborghini Gallardo or Audi R8.
The R8 V10 Plus may not be blessed with the 458's ravishing Italian good looks, but it can closely match the Ferrari when it comes to acceleration and handling. What's more, it does so for about $55,000 less.
The Ferrari 458 Italia and Spider carry over unchanged for the 2013 model year.
Driving Impressions There isn't a single bad thing we can say about the way the 2013 Ferrari 458 Italia drives. It's like a go-kart on steroids, doing everything the driver asks without...the annoyance of numerous electronic nannies stepping in to spoil the fun. The perfectly balanced chassis is so composed at high speeds it can create in the driver a false sense of F1-like confidence he or she won't be able to replicate in any other car. From the brilliant dual-clutch transmission whose shifts occur in just nanoseconds to the precise steering that so utterly connects driver to car, the 458 is quite possibly the best Ferrari – and maybe even the best sports car – built today. Because we don't want to sound one-sided, here is our short list of complaints: The steering wheel houses too many controls (wipers, turn signals, and ignition), legroom is somewhat lacking and none of us can afford one.
The Spider's aluminum hardtop fits neatly below the clamshell engine cover and retracts in about 14 seconds. And, unlike most coupe-turned-convertible sports cars, the 458 Spider preserves the dynamism of its fixed-roof counterpart.
It's simply mind-boggling to think Ferrari can milk a modest-sized V8 engine for 562 horsepower without resorting to turbochargers or gimmicks, but that's exactly what the 458 delivers.
Because the 2013 Ferrari 458 is a mid-engine car, the bulkhead separating the driver from the engine compartment can restrict the ability to recline the front seats when they are at their rearmost travel. Legroom, on the other hand, is surprisingly good. The 458's gorgeous cockpit is covered in fine leathers and eye-pleasing shapes, all of which can be enhanced via the numerous interior upgrade options. We think placing so many controls on the steering wheel is unwise, and the instrumentation would benefit from simple analog gauges in lieu of the cluttered multi-role LCD screens.Exterior
Enthusiasts might call the Ferrari 458 a work of art, but the look is actually a lesson in modern aerodynamics. From the open vent louvers atop the fenders to the available integrated carbon-fiber rear diffuser, the 458's design is all about channeling air to improve handling, efficiency and stability. On the Spider, Ferrari has created an aluminum retractable hardtop that actually weighs less than most soft-top mechanisms, tipping the scales at a mere 100 pounds over the coupe.
Standard fare on both the 458 Italia and Spider consists of leather seating and trim, carbon-ceramic brakes that are lighter and more resistant to fading than conventional braking units, a power-adjustable steering wheel, low/high beam automatic xenon headlights (bi-xenon), dual-zone climate control, launch control for speedier getaways from stoplights, and an 11-speaker JBL Professional sound system with a basic auxiliary audio jack for portable music players. Despite the 458's quarter-million-dollar price tag, cruise control, power seats and navigation are not part of the standard equipment roster. On the safety front, every 458 includes four airbags and performance-tailored traction and stability control.
Among the 458's more exclusive options are 4-point seatbelts, carbon-fiber racing seats, a 1,000-watt premium audio system by JBL, and carbon-fiber body pieces. Like most exotic supercars, the Ferrari 458 is highly customizable. Bespoke items include contrast stitching, a carbon-fiber steering wheel with integrated LED shift lights, numerous paint and interior color schemes, and a choice of three different seat designs (standard, Daytona-style and diamond-tufted).
The Ferrari 458 Italia and 458 Spider are both powered by the same hand-built aluminum 4.5-liter V8 engine. Pumping out an amazing 562 horsepower, the 458's engine barely seems to strain to move the car to its nearly 200-mph top speed. And with an insane 9,000-rpm redline, why should it? The 7-speed dual-clutch automatic does just fine by itself. But, if the driver wants in on the action, a set of steering-wheel paddle shifters allows for instantaneous up/down shifts and perfectly timed rev-matches.
562 horsepower @ 9,000 rpm
398 lb-ft of torque @ 6,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/18 mpg
Although the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price for the 2013 Ferrari 458 Italia starts just under $240,000, prospective buyers should expect to contend with inflated sticker prices as a result of high demand and limited supply. The same goes for the 458 Spider, which opens at roughly $264,000. Since most 458s are already spoken for, there are slightly more attainable alternatives to choose from, such as the $182,000 Audi R8 V10 Plus, the $200,000 Lamborghini Gallardo, and the McLaren MP4-12C, which checks in around $242,000.