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The Ferrari 458 Italia has rewritten the rulebook on exotic Italian supercars. Not only is the car completely new from the ground up, it’s also faster than virtually every Ferrari before it--including the Enzo. However, the major draw card is that this Ferrari is actually a very good mode of transport.

Comfortable seats, ample head, leg, and shoulder room, and a level of quality to its build and materials surpassed only by a handful of other cars explains why the Ferrari 458 Italia is winning comparison tests all over the world.

At the end of the day, however, this is still a Ferrari, which means performance always has to come first. Here the car certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Power comes from a new 4.5-liter V-8, which features direct injection technology and is matched to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. It has a very low piston compression height typical of racing engines that contributed to achieving its relatively high compression ratio of 12.5:1. Equipped with the traditional flat-plane crankshaft, the engine delivers a peak output of 570 horsepower at 9,000 rpm and 400 pound-feet of torque 6,000 rpm.

This guarantees 0-60 mph times of less than 3.3 seconds and a top speed in excess of 202 mph. However, these figures give you a feel for the capabilities of the Italia, but none of them give you a feel for the feel of the Italia. You can strap enough rockets to a brick to deliver similar figures, but the driving experience wouldn't be all that rewarding.

Precise throttle response, shift feel better than anything else we’ve driven, and steering feel that’s head and shoulders above the competition--this is a car that can make amateurs look like the pros.

Inside, the 458 Italia features an innovative driving environment with a new kind of steering wheel and dashboard that is the direct result of racing practice. Here, input from seven-times Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher--who was involved from the very start of the 458 Italia project--played a major part in the way the controls in the cabin are laid out.

Basically, most of the controls are clustered on the steering wheel where you can, in theory, reach them quickly. In day-to-day driving, however, the layout at times can be annoying.

For a more detailed look at the 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia, check out our road-test of the virtually identical 2010 model by clicking here.

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Ferrari has posted a video of the construction of the 458 Italia's body and frame online. Read Update

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The Ferrari 458 Italia's engine is a precision machine, but this video gives some insight into how Ferrari simplifies the construction process to ensure all of its engines are top-notch. Read Update

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The Ferrari 458 Italia's convertible, or Spider, variant could get a unique hardtop system--one that might even be made of glass. Read Update

UPDATEDual Clutch Gearbox Can't Save Ferrari 458 Owner From Himself: Video

Dual-clutch gearboxes are the latest word in high-tech transmissions, but even though they're not as demanding on the driver as a manual transmission, this Ferrari 458 Italia owner proves they still require at least a modicum of skill. Read Update

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