CAN LESS sometimes be more? This is what Ferrari engineers must have contemplated before they sliced the top off what is arguably the world’s most spine-tingling supercar.
Loud and exceptionally quick, the 458 Speciale coupé made Lamborghini and McLaren dealers weep when it was launched this time last year. So when challenged to turn up the tingle to 11, it’s no surprise that the engineers left the 597bhp V8 engine, hi-tech software and sophisticated aerodynamics well alone and focused, instead, on the roof.
The result is the limited-edition 458 Speciale A. Unlike most convertibles, Ferrari claims that it loses nothing noticeable in terms of lightness and rigidity. It weighs just 50kg more than the coupé and will lap the firm’s Fiorano racing circuit in exactly the same time: 1 minute 23.5 seconds. Accelerate from a standing start and both cars will hit 62mph in precisely three seconds.
Both cars also feature side-slip angle control software that will let you powerslide as if you were Fernando Alonso — and will take over if you find your skills don’t match his.
But while there’s no difference in performance, the look and feel of the car is an entirely different matter. Press the button to fold down the aluminium hard top — a 14-second job — and the Speciale A reveals its chiselled profile, honed in the wind tunnel to boost downforce.
In case pulling up at a posh hotel in a £230,000 Ferrari isn’t enough to impress, owners will also have their own onboard trophy cabinet — of sorts. A plaque in the cabin details three Best Performance Engine awards that its V8 has won: a reminder that the car is designed more for driving than posing.
And if you’re wondering what the A stands for, it’s an example of the Italian language turning the mundane into the exotic. Hot on the heels of the Testarossa (redhead) and Scuderia (stable), the letter stands for aperta (open).
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