Ferrari’s entry-level offering is anything but. With a V8 screaming right behind your head delivering an awe-inspiring 562 horsepower, for any other company the 458 Italia would be the flagship sportscar. Instead, the Italia is a driver’s ultimate fantasy, combining stunning Pininfarina lines with nearly perfect driving dynamics. It looks the part too, with aggressive headlights, sculpted flanks, and menacing triple exhausts exiting at the center of the functional rear air diffuser. Step inside and slide behind the wheel and contemplate the masterpiece that is the cockpit—everything you need is within reach in a setting that is more like a fighter jet than a mere car. Underneath the aerodynamically optimized skin is a vast array of high technology that allows the driver to use all that power with surgical precision. The high-revving V8 is the real highlight, managing to pull a nearly unbelievable amount of power out of just 4.5 liters by using direct-injection, high compression, and precisely balanced internal components. Keeping the engine in the powerband is made simple with the dual-clutch F1-inspired 7-speed transmission, which seamlessly ratchets off shifts without interrupting the delivery of ample torque. With the exceedingly stiff bonded aluminum chassis and an amazingly low drag coefficient, the Italia’s top speed exceeds 202 miles per hour.
"This is the very latest mid-engined V8 Ferrari the 458 Italia. Pretty isn't it?
And that's not something you can say about many of their efforts from the last few years. The 430 had a front end a leering idiot. The 348 looked as if it had crashed into a Venetian blind showroom. But this looks, just right.
Its appearance isn't just show either. Those black fins in the front grille flex under air pressure so the faster you go the more they bend out of the way to improve aerodynamics, and there are no engine intakes to spoil the sides because they've been moved underneath the car.
So it looks fantastic, and its 4.5-liter 562hp V8 means it has the guts to punch you repeatedly in the back of the head. But that alone wouldn't be enough. Some of its ancestors have been as incompetent and terrifying as having brain surgery performed by a baboon. As it turns out, the 458 is better than that. Much better, in fact it's a sharp-handling, smooth-riding, savagely fast masterpiece.
Of course it's not perfect. For some reason they've put far too many buttons on the steering wheel, the dashboard screens are so complicated they can only be worked by Bill Gates, and, personally, I'd still rather have the brutal Mercedes SLS, but we can't deny that the 458 is a great car, and a proper, proper Ferrari." — Jeremy Clarkson