Short Drive: 2010 Ferrari 458 Italia
By: Anthony Fongaro | November 2015
The recipe for what you are about to read is classic Ferrari: a mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive coupe sporting a V8 engine. As classic as this Ferrari is, modern technologies and improvements in horsepower and handling makes this car highly desirable. Welcome to the 2010 Ferrari 458 Italia.
Pictures don't do justice for the 458 Italia on just how beautiful of a car it is. There is no angle where the car doesn’t look stunning. The 458 I drove sported black paint which made the yellow brake calipers stand out. Ironically, the car's beauty is a result of design by aerodynamics. One example is the front whiskers in the nose that lower at speed to reduce drag and lift. The body of the 458 Italia was carved to be very slippery which means it handles as well as it looks.
Not so simple interior.
Forget everything you know about a car’s interior. Done forgetting? Good. Let’s tackle just the steering wheel first. As you can see from the picture above, the steering wheel is bombarded with buttons and switches. Since the 458 doesn’t have traditional steering-column mounted stalks, every control is on the steering wheel. This means that all the muscle memory you have from years of driving more typical cars has to go out the window. Case in point – I reached for the non-existent turn signal at least twice before my co-pilot reminded me that it's a button on the wheel.
If you thought the complicated interior ended at the steering wheel, you’d be wrong. Ferrari’s dashboard is made up of a center-mounted tachometer and two mini screens – one on either side. These display everything in the car from the infotainment system to the trip computer, and are accompanied by two pods with even more buttons. I wasn’t able to play with all the gadgets in the 458, but the one option which was downright confusing was…the navigation system. In my time driving cars, I’ve never dealt with a more complicated system for just activating the navigation system. It took my co-pilot and me a good five minutes – including a Google search – to figure out how to activate the navigation screen. It’s actually quite simple (you just have to push and hold a button to bring up the menu), but the speedometer goes away. Surprisingly, you can only have a speedometer or navigation, not both.
Born to race.
My stint in the 458 was neither on a test track nor a de-restricted highway, but my initial impressions were positive for the most part. Numbers time! Ferrari's 4.5-liter V8 pumps out an astounding 562-horsepower which works hand-in-hand to a seven-speed, dual-clutch automated manual with paddle shifters. Zero to 50 mph – I wasn’t able to actually hit 60 mph - came rapidly with the transmission performing lightning-fast shifts. Behind the wheel, the throttle is your friend, allowing you to hear one of the best-sounding V8 engines. Imagine listening to a symphony orchestra that you control with your foot, that's how the 458’s engine sounds like. Driving around, the extra-sharp steering, handling and acceleration were enjoyable, but you could sense the car was bored. It wanted more. Like putting a minivan on a racetrack, the 458 on public roads is out of its element. It wants to show off what it’s made of on a racetrack or some beautiful cliché mountain roads.
By the end of the drive, I was left wanting more. The 458 is a brilliant car with an interior that will force you to read the dreaded owner’s manual. And you’ll have to undo all the muscle memory you learned driving other cars to figure out the controls. But even though I was only able to tap into 40 percent of the car’s potential, it was a tantalizing taste of just how amazing it is. The 458 is almost too good for your average drive to work. If I was able to open the taps a bit more and let the Ferrari come to life, I’m sure it would show why it could be the perfect sports car.
Midwest Motors is located at 540 Cortland Drive, Lake Zurich, IL 60047. Visit their website at http://www.midwestmotors.com/ and view the 2010 Ferrari 458 Italia here.