Ferrari 458 Italia / Spider (2009 - 2015): Review, Problems, Specs

The Ferrari 458 Italia marks the end of an era: that of mid-engined Ferraris with naturally aspirated engines, but it’s by no means the best thing about the car, as it’s a brilliant feat of design and engineering on its own.

It’s superb to drive; it looks stunning, even compared to its turbocharged replacement, the 488 GTB. Some say it’s actually even better to look at than its successor, but we’ll have to have them side by side for a final decision in that regard.

The 458’s engine is a 4.5-liter V8 gem that likes it best at around 8,000 rpm and above, when it literally sounds like nothing else on the road. It pushes the 458 to sixty in a smidgen over three seconds and Ferrari promises it’s good for a top speed of 340 km/h (210 mph).


Pros & Cons
Strong Points

Pros


Strong Points
  • Engine immediacy, power delivery and sound
  • Pin-sharp handling
  • Shape that epitomizes the idea of a sexy, exotic (Italian) mid-engined two-door
  • Overall execution quality (it feels both expensive and well-engineered)

Recommended Versions
Strong Points

Cons


Weak Points
  • Ferrari’s multifunction steering wheel may feel overly complicated
  • High running costs
  • Expensive servicing and parts
  • No manual gearbox option

Stay Away From
  • Unusual color combinations
Strong Points

Attention


Known Problems & Recalls
  • all cars built were recalled in 2010 for risk of fire caused by using improper adhesive in the rear wheelarches
  • certain models recalled in 2012 for a possible engine seizure problem that required a new crankshaft and bearings to be installed
  • certain models
  • recall initiated for certain models with improperly assembled passenger airbag
  • front trunk latch-related recall in 2013-2014; latch may jam and need replacing
Car Details
Powertrain

The 4.3-liter V8 non-turbo that powers the 458 is one of the best things about the car. It even received the coveted Engine of the Year award back in 2011 in the category for engines above four liters.

At the time of its launch, the 570 PS output put the 458 in a different performance league compared to its illustrious predecessor, the F430.

The gearbox is a dual-clutch seven-speed setup (by Getrag) and it’s as close to faultless in its operation as a sporty-flavored box can be. Shifts while pootling about are generally smooth and pleasantly brutal in the harshest and fastest-shifting setting.


Handling

On the road, the 458 feels like a step above the already excellent F430. It somehow feels like that car yet in a sharper, stiffer and more advanced package; if you’ve driven both, you will notice the evolution.

Through the corners body roll is nonexistent and it features the definition of direct steering. In fact, it may be too direct for some who will find that even the most minute turn will result in a lot of angle on the wheels.

It’s still dead easy to drive to the shops in, though, and aside from the firm ride (which you have to expect, even in its softest setting) it’s perfectly usable everyday; the steering is easy and so are all the controls – they hardly require any physical strength to operate, although finesse is essential to make the most of it.


Safety

The 458 is based around a super-stiff aluminum monocoque that wraps around the passenger compartment in a similar manner to what you see in GT racing cars. It also comes with pretensioned seat belts, as well as front, side impact and curtain airbags; stability and traction control systems are also present and they feel advanced and non-intrusive.

Comfort

The 458 is far more pliant than you’d expect such a race car-esque vehicle to offer. There’s obviously no getting around the fact it’s stiff and designed to corner with hardly any body roll, yet with a flick of the Manetion on the steering wheel it can be set up for long distance cruising.

It’s also surprisingly quiet at speed, helped by its aerodynamic shape to not cause wind buffeting. The gearbox adds to the experience too, and when not on it, the unit will try to shift up as much and as early as possible.

And don’t thing the racy V8 lurking in the middle of the 458 is gutless at low to mid revs, because it isn’t. Ferrari says it delivers 80 percent of its torque at 3,250 rpm, while maximum pull is achieved at a much noisier 6,000 rpm.


Quality

You certainly won’t feel short changed after buying this Ferrari, as it feels like a well engineered, well built and high quality machine. The interior is very pleasant and it really does feel a decade ahead of the F430.

Materials are excellent, they feel pleasant to the touch and substantial is probably the word best suited to define the interior ambiance.


Practicality

You don’t look at a 458 desiring load lugging capacity, but with 230 liters combined volume you can definitely take it to the shops or even on short trips; pack lightly for these trips, though, and if you really want to maximize the space, you’ll have to plump for a set of bespoke set of Ferrari bags designed for the model.


Infotainment

As of late, all new Ferraris come Apple Car Play-enabled which can completely replace the factory setup it comes with; you can use Ferrari's own system, which isn't the worst, but you're better off just connecting your phone.

Efficiency

Don’t expect the 458 to be green – it isn’t designed to be, but for what it is Ferrari has tried to reduce emissions to comply with standards of ever-increasing stringency. It’s claimed to use 13.3 l/100 km or around 17.7 mpg US on the combined cycle, and you should see it dip below 10 l/100 km (over 24 mpg US).


Equipment

All 458s come well equipped, with six standard airbags, climate control, sat-nav, an auxiliary audio jack input, and part-electrically-adjustable seats (that can be converted to fully-electric) partly clad in Alcantara.

The steering wheel is also worth mentioning here, as like with all newer Ferraris, it harbors all the controls you’d expect to find right near the wheel, not on it. You can indicate, turn on the headlights, flash the high beams, change the traction control settings, start the engine or turn on the wipers without taking your hands of the wheel.

There are no active safety aids to speak of in the 458, so aside from the traction and stability aids, it’s all up to you not to crash...


Acquisition

The 458 is no longer in production, so buying one is a decision you ponder while also looking at its turbocharged replacement, the 488 GTB. The former is cheaper now that it’s only available second hand and it also comes with a more satisfying naturally aspirated V8; it’s slower than the 488 but the experience is purer in a sense.

The decision to buy one hinges on the price and your preference for turbocharged or naturally aspirated engines. When new, the 458 cost around $240,000 (that’s how much the 488 costs now), so keep that in mind when browsing the classifieds looking for one.

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