The Technologically Advanced Ferrari 458 Italia

Your feelings on the Ferrari 458 Italia will depend heavily on whether you want a car that looks like it was designed by Italian surrealists or whether you want one that looks like it was painted by a more neoclassical hand. Because (and some people will argue with me on this) the Italia looks like a car. A nearly perfect car, but still: a car.

Other Ferraris assault the eye with precarious curves, hazardous pointy bits and violent-looking intakes, all of which convey the impression of big meat-eating power. So while the Italia too looks just as serious as its predecessors, it does so with subtle curves, elegantly angled headlights, a peekaboo-glass top over its mid-set engine. It’s just a genuinely pretty car, not wild-looking and alien, but still as impressive as a Ferrari should be.

Seamless 7-Speed Trans.

And this all plays out in its performance. Launched in 2009 as the descendant to the F430, the 458 Italia pumps out an astonishing 560 horsepower, getting it from standstill to 60 in 3.3 seconds. The eight-cylinder two-seater, while perhaps not as scary in appearance as some other Ferraris, certainly has the strength of its convictions, topping out at somewhere right over 200 mph.

And it’ll get there smoothly, with a dual-clutch 7-speed transmission which anticipates the shifts by revving the next gear to match the one you’re currently in for a seamless transmission transition. Think about how a new relay runner matches the speed of the previous one before the handoff and you’ve got a vision of what’s going on in the gearbox of the Italia.

Forget Signaling

The future is all right there in the dash, for better or worse. There’s a simplicity to some Ferrari consoles that isn’t on display here — all the turn signals and windshield wipers are squeezed onto the steering wheel, so you better memorize the wheel before you go into turns. Then again, with the level of output this car delivers, it might not ever dawn on you to bother with signaling. No one’s going to keep up with you anyway.

Which is what’s really remarkable about this car. For all its outstanding power, handling and performance, it manages to maintain its good looks and not succumb to the vents and sharp edges of outrageous design. And it doesn’t appear to hurt it at all. When compared to the ultra-exclusive Enzo, available to rock stars and sheiks, the Italia is far cheaper (at $230,000 this is a relative term) and yet still nearly as fast as the Formula One-emulating Enzo. The Italia absolutely tops its predecessor, the F430, which was already in a league of its own.

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