AT A GLANCE
It starts at a neat $550,000 plus on-road costs (including about $163,000 in luxury car tax alone). And that’s before you’ve made it to the options list.
Racing stripes for the roof, bonnet and boot: $19,000 (that’s more than the cost of an entire Toyota Yaris); front and rear parking sensors: a cool $5700, or more than one-third the price of a $14,990 Honda Jazz, Australia’s cheapest car with a rear-view camera. And yet the $5700 doesn’t include a rearview camera!
The Ferrari’s camera is part of an “integrated audio system” that costs $5430. So you pay to have the radio removed (to save weight) and then you pay to put it back in. Genius. Carbon-fibre covers for the engine (which don’t make it go any faster but look nicer) are $13,242.
The pretty carbon-fibre treatment in the rear bumper is an eye watering $15,480.
Just a few hundred dollars more will buy you the aforementioned Toyota Yaris or, as of this month, a runout model Hyundai i20 with automatic transmission and some change for a year’s supply of coffee. Or fuel.
Perhaps the real genius is getting Ferrari customers to pay a premium for a fancy exhaust.
Presumably the way a Ferrari sounds is one of the key selling points of the car. But if you want it to sound like a Ferrari, that’s an extra $4080 for pipes made from titanium, thanks very much.
The cheapest option is rather surprising: Bluetooth is only $815. That’s an insane amount for Bluetooth. You can get a kit from SuperCheap Auto for less than $200.
The list goes on (would you like wheels with that? $4500, ker-ching) but you get the idea.
On the road, armed with the knowledge of just how much damage I could cause, I nervously slip behind the wheel.
Even seasoned car hacks get a flutter in the stomach when handed the keys to a Ferrari. It can be masked as excitement, but really you’re wondering if you’ll be able to return it in the same pristine condition.
Which is why, despite this Ferrari’s agility and speed, if I was in a race with a Toyota Yaris right now the Yaris would win, because it would already be out of the car park.
I spent five minutes going nowhere, just adjusting the mirrors, the seat and learning what all the buttons do.
Then I had to play with the dash. And I don’t mean the instruments. Admiring the stitched suede material on the dash I found it compulsory to rub my fingers across the grain, and then make it neat again. It probably looked like I was patting the car. I was.
The air vents look like miniature Opera House sails. They were little works of art.
The Ferrari 458 Speciale was delighting the senses and I hadn’t even moved it an inch. It was time to stop delaying the inevitable and take the plunge into Sydney traffic. In peak hour.
If this car got damaged it would not necessarily be through any fault of mine; the car is so low other drivers often don’t see you in the adjacent lane. Even if it is bright yellow.
Pulling up at the lights, I’m staring at other cars right in their wheel nuts. No wonder SUVs have a sense of superiority.
Fortunately, I eventually got clear of the city and found open road. It occurred to me that I took for granted just how easy the 458 was to drive in traffic.
Super-sportscars of years gone by would have either overheated, or spluttered between gears. The Ferrari 458 Speciale, despite its sporting intent and race-track focus, was as tame to drive as a Volkswagen Golf.
The other revelation is that the Ferrari 458 Speciale did not break my back or hurt my bones. Track-focused road cars are supposed to jar over the slightest crack or bump.
So what happens when you on an open road? Predictable as this may sound, it’s superb.
The steering has the accuracy of a go-kart, the grip from the tyres feels like you’re driving on Velcro and the brakes are so powerful they hurt your eyes and your chest if you apply them hard enough.
The acceleration to 100km/h is beyond comprehension. It reaches the speed limit in less time than it takes to read this sentence. Just three seconds.
Although I did not try to prove it, Ferrari figures show it can reach 200km/h in 9 seconds, the same time it takes a Toyota Corolla to reach half that speed. It accelerates and responds so quickly, it is bordering on being too quick for your brain to comprehend.
Driving is always about planning ahead, so by the time
FERRARI 458 SPECIALE PRICE $550,000 plus on-road costs AS TESTED $633,447 ($83,447 in options) ENGINE 4.5-litre V8 POWER 445kW and 540Nm TRANSMISSION 7-speed F1 dual clutch auto THIRST 11.8L/100km WEIGHT 1290kg (90kg less than standard model) 0 TO 100KM/H 3.0 seconds (0.4 seconds faster than standard) TOP SPEED 325km/h plus you’ve hit 100km/h it’s time to kill the speed, and it feels like walking pace after the rollercoaster rush you’ve just felt.
But the best feeling ? Handing it back in the same condition as when I picked it up. Having started out wondering why two dozen or so Australians will pay a premium for a lightweight Ferrari with a bit more power and a lot less standard equipment, I realised it’s a relative bargain. Here’s hoping Powerball jackpots another week.