Tom’s Ferrari 458 Speciale has been run in. And then some…
|Date acquired:||February 2014|
|Kilometres this month:||2001km|
|Costs this month:||AED5000 (clear bra)|
|L/100km this month:||Does anyone really care about that? I don't!|
My first month of Ferrari ownership has been completed. And, as you would expect with this car, it was a special month indeed. Entering the car is an experience, every single time. Stepping into the bare aluminum floor. Smelling the full alcantara interior. Tightening the 4-point harnesses. Driving away and finding out that I cannot reach the sensor to open the barrier out of our parking. And the car behaved impeccably. Something that cannot be said about the Porsche 991 GT3 which I took delivery a week prior to receiving my 458 Speciale. It’s interesting to see that in this very instance, contrary to all prejudices, the Italians trumped the Germans in terms of engineering as well as reliability. Just as they did in their timely delivery performance, for that matter.
After completing the recommended 1,000km running-in period, I took the car into the mountains with a group of friends to stretch its legs and bring on the revs. More recently, I attended a track-day at the Dubai Autodrome, where the car could really showcase its capabilities. Well, I wasn’t disappointed, to say the least. The cornering speeds that this car can handle seem to even better those that I managed to do in my GT-Rs, even though I accept that this might be perception only, since it involves you even more in the process of doing so. The very direct steering with delicate feel allows you to place the car exactly where you want it and those LaFerrari-derived brakes not only have insane and consistent stopping power, but also provide great pedal feel that allows you to exactly control your braking distances.
The engine sound is great too, but certainly not better than the 458 Italia, which is a higher-pitched scream as compared to the lower, rougher roar from the Speciale. However, the speed at which the car builds up the revs is staggering. It flies to 9,000 RPM, you pull the right paddle, and bam, here it goes again. And again, in a motorbike-like aggression. And again. Until you run out of gears. Or track. Or courage. Or a challenging corner presents itself, which is actually the preferred option. Because that allows you to get with maximum brake retardation whilst you’re banging down through the gears, the manettino set into the default ‘Race’ mode. The huge scud-missile-like exhausts emit a battlefield-esque soundtrack and, so I’m told, some pretty large pyrotechnics too. Similar to a couple of those 991 GT3s again, but here in a planned and controlled fashion.
A fellow crankandpiston Journals contributor, after being a passenger, said that “the car is very akin to a Group B rally car in the way it decimates the roads. It’s so that fast cerebral re-calibration was needed after some sections, but the fact that it was controllable and so useable made it all the more enjoyable!” I don’t think I could have worded it any better.
During my week of holiday in Sweden, the dealership took care of a couple of small (cosmetic) issues that weren’t 100% perfect upon delivery. And as expected, they did so flawlessly, under warranty. And they cleaned the brakes, which proved to be necessary after the mountain runs. The only remaining issue is that the UAE roads and tracks seems to have a great appetite for the winglets in front of the rear wheels. This seems to be a combination of fierce debris, sticky semi-slick Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires and the absence of the side skirts that feature on the 458 Italia. Al Tayer has already agreed that they will replace or repaint the panel and wrap it to avoid reaching a similar situation shortly thereafter. Whether this will work or not, only time will tell. In the meantime, I will be enjoying the car regardless. And will need to replace those Cup 2 tires in the not so distant future, I’m afraid.
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