One of the most popular cars at this week’s Frankfurt Auto Show, the Ferrari 458 Speciale, also happens to be one of the most technologically advanced. There are so many intricate systems present that it’s hard to get a grasp on how the technologies all help make this hardcore 458 variant one of the fastest road cars ever launched by Ferrari.

They span the entire car and include both Ferrari patents and world firsts, particularly with regard to the engine, active aerodynamics and electronic controls. Whether on the road or track, the driver of a 458 Speciale is said to be able to feel the various systems working, mainly because they help deliver almost instant responses to any driver input.

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Starting with the powertrain, engineers have managed to squeeze 597 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque from the 458’s familiar 4.5-liter V-8 engine. Changes include new intake and exhaust systems, reshaped cam profiles, forged internals and special materials that help reduce friction and improve reliability. The engine now boasts an almost diesel-like 14:1 compression ratio. The programming of the car’s seven-speed dual-clutch transmission was also recalibrated to allow even faster shifts.

One of the car’s main characteristics are new active aero components, featured at the front and the rear of the car, which ensure different aerodynamic configurations can be adopted in cornering, where maximum downforce is essential, and on straights where, instead, drag must be reduced to a minimum.

In collaboration with styling house Pininfarina, Ferrari’s own designers have sculpted forms that are more performance-oriented than those of the 458 Italia. These include the new front spoiler, vertical air curtain, new diffuser and more aggressive rear spoiler. According to Ferrari, the 458 Speciale has an impressive downforce (Cl) value of 0.53 while its drag (Cd) value has remained a respectable 0.35.

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Then there are all the chassis technologies. The highlight here is the new Side Slip Angle Control (SSC), a world first for a production car. Thanks to a sophisticated new algorithm, which computes lateral acceleration, yaw angle, steering wheel angle and speed, SSC instantaneously calculates the car’s slip angle, comparing it with reference data, and adjusting the traction control and electric differential to enable smooth and predictable powered oversteer and even faster responses to driver input when cornering.

The brakes and tires were also specially developed for the car and use many lessons learned from development of Ferrari’s flagship LaFerrari. The brakes are from Brembo and are carbon ceramic pieces while the tires are a Michelin Pilot Sport Cup2 set measuring 20 inches in diameter. Finally, the dampers have been upgraded with a new type of magnetorheological system.

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The end result of all the upgrades is a vehicle with a dry curb weight of just 2,843 pounds and capable of lapping Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in a time of 1:23.5 seconds. That’s 1.5 seconds faster than faster than the time of the 458 Italia and just half of a second off the pace of the F12 Berlinetta. Ferrari’s fastest road car around Fiorano remains the LaFerrari, which needs less than 1:20 to complete a lap.

The 458 Speciale will also accelerate to 62 mph from rest in just 3.0 seconds and hit a top speed of 202 mph. And when it comes time to stop, the car needs just 31 meters to stop from 62 mph and 122 meters to stop from 124 mph.

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The 458 Speciale’s performance is exceptional across the board, benefiting from all of Ferrari’s F1 experience and technology. Now, if Ferrari engineers have managed to make the 458 this good, we wonder how incredible the LaFerrari will be.


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