With the California T not only has Ferrari facelifted its most selling Ferrari of all times with more than 10,000 units sold but also has introduced the new generation of turbo engines, a first since the F40 back in 1987. That freshly engineered engine is a 3.9 liters twin turbocharged V8 releasing 553 hp and 557 lb-ft of torque. A whooping 70hp and 50% increase in torque compared to the previous model. (Keep in mind that the 458 Italia has 570hp and 398 lb-ft of torque). Turbo engines are always associated with turbo lag. Well, not this time. Ferrari has worked really hard on this new engine so it behaves as much like a normally aspirated unit as possible, both in its power and torque delivery and the way it sounds. In fact, turbos have been programmed so that a first turbo starts spooling at low revs and another kicks in at higher rpm. Power is delivered to the rear wheels via the Ferrari Dual Clutch 7 speed transmission. Look wise, the car looks much sportier compared to the previous model with that aggressive front end, aerodynamic air vents flowing from behind the front wheel and that rear diffuser. The exhaust finally went from stacked to sideways.
So what was it like to drive? To start with, sitting in it you do feel in a proper Ferrari with its massive paddleshifters, its refined leather, its steering wheel and its manettino switch. I really liked their new infotainment system, very interactive. Note that it will be updated very soon to “Car Play” by Apple that will allow you to completely synchronize you’re iPhone with the car. Driving wise, the car is very dynamic. There is practically no body roll. Suspension was firm in turns and comfortable on bumpy roads. Brakes have been massively improved, and beautifully calibrated so that the car doesn’t go sideways nor has the front that moves down even though it contains a massive V8 engine. Despite it being a turbo engine, you do not feel any turbo lag at all. Over all it was a wonderful experience specially based on the fact that I had a professional Ferrari test driver next to me advising me on how to extract the maximum fun and feel out of that test drive! Scuderia Lebanon thank you very much for this one of a kind opportunity you have given me. Looking forward to trying out other Italian beauties!
On Sunday the 26th of January, I was invited to Biel, Beirut to attend the launching of the new stallion from Ferrari, the awaited 458 Speciale. The event was very well organised and the setting was perfect. We had a couple of F12 Berlinetta, Enzo, 599 GTO and other custom made 458 to admire while waiting for the rest of the guests to arrive. All the pictures of the event are available by clicking right here.
The Major announcements before the Speciale arrived were the official transfer of the Ferrari importer-ship in Lebanon from Sport Motors Group s.a.l. to Scuderia Lebanon s.a.l. and the introduction of a ultra-modern facility located in Dbayeh, offering showrooms for new and pre-owned Ferraris in addition to a “state of the art” workshop all under the management of Mr. Hassan Haidar.
“So, that Speciale, what do you think of it and is it worth upgrading from a regular 458?” Is the question I asked to a couple of 458 owners to which they all answered with a radical No. No because the regular 458 is so good, so well balanced, so fun to drive, that topping it is very very hard. Ferrari did add 30hp and melt its weight by 90kg and add a couple of active aerodynamics here and there but that is not a major enhancement compared to the awesomeness of the 458, it is not ground braking (Yep they had already test driven that Speciale!!). They all added that, upgrading from a F430 to a F430 Scuderia was worth it at the time but in that new generation not really. You are free to check the full review of the 458 Speciale by clicking right here. Oh and btw we got that awesome gift on the way out signed by Luca di Montezemolo himslef!
Faster, lighter, sexier, the perfect ingredients to create a “scuderia” version of the 458 Italia, so called, the 458 Speciale. So what’s the fuzz all about you shall ask. To start with, the naturally aspirated 4.5 liters V8 has been given some steroids contributing to a total gain of 30 ponies. This adds up to a total of 592hp and 398 lb-ft of torque making it the most powerful naturally aspirated V8 Ferrari has ever built. The weight of the 458 has been reduced by 90kg. The attention to detail in the design of the interior is just staggering. Last but not least, its look. The front grille has been enhanced, the bonnet is more structured to improve aerodynamics, the rear has been equipped with a bigger diffuser and two integrated tailpipes replacing the 458’s trademark central triple pipes. The aero elements are active and help make this Ferrari’s most aerodynamic road car yet. Ferrari claims some of the 458 Speciale’s technology will make it onto its future road cars, with SSC and that active aero seeming dead certs. I love every single bit of this new creation by Ferrari. It will be officially announced at the Frankfurt motor show in September. Hope I’ll be able to make it!! [updated] The official video has just been released! Just look at those active aerodynamic components!
Arriving at the Geneva motor show, everyone expected the P1 to be the only star of the show they were surprised to find 2 other, the Lamborghini Veneno and the LaFerrari, the new breed of the Enzo. Since the Venom is gonna be owned by only 3 persons on the planet, two Americans and a guy from Saudi Arabia we can forget about it and focus more on the two main rivals, the P1 and the LaFerrari.
Developed in 499 examples and in collaboration with the F1 Scuderia Ferrari team and drivers, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa LaFerrari is the fastest Hybrid production car ever build. It is equipped with a 6.3 liters V12 engine that revs to a maximum of 9,250 rpm and delivers 800hp combined to it, a HY-KERS electric motor with 163hp. This adds up to a total output of 963hp and 900 Nm of torque coupled with the F1 dual-clutch gearbox to the benefit of optimal weight distribution. The electric motor works in collaboration with the V12 making sure torque levels are high at low revs. The batteries are charged under braking (even hard braking with the ABS active) and every time the V12 produces more torque than required, such as in cornering. In the latter instance, rather than the being sent to the wheels, the excess torque is converted to energy and stored in the batteries.
The design of the car was achieved by putting an Enzo into a wind tunnel and fine tuning it. The chassis is made with no less than four different types of carbon-fibre. The seats are melted into it. It is the steering wheel and the gas and braking paddles that can be adjusted to fit the drivers dimensions.The seating position is very similar to the one in an F1 racing car: very low, close to the ground making sure the center of gravity of the car is as low as possible. LaFerrari benefits from an active and instantaneous aerodynamic system. Five flaps (two in front one in the middle and two at the back) located under the car and big rear spoiler generate downforce when needed without compromising the car’s overall drag coefficient.
LaFerrari? What sort of name is that? What is the next one gonna be called LaFerrari II or something? Replacing the famous Enzo and after 11 years of research, I think that a more interesting name for it could have been found. The over-all look of the car is fine but I have some problems with a couple of details. The front bonnet is and the back are very inspired by the Enzo, which is good. However the front lights and the rear ones are stolen from a 458 Italia, the side mirrors look like a mixed of the Mclaren MP-4 and the Zonda ones and why is steering wheel in sort of a square shape? For a successor of the Enzo I think it should have been more refined, it is not “magical” enough. I feel like the Ferrari team was so focused on the performance and tech stuff that they missed out a bit on the design phase. In case you feel like watching an Enzo drift on dirt, you can always click here. (The P1 will be reviewed and compared in another post later on).
Jonny Lieberman and Justin Bell head to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to hand the keys over to pro race driver Randy Pobst. Watch Randy rocket down the legendary “Corkscrew” as he hot laps eleven of the world’s greatest sportscars in search of Motor Trend’s 2011 Best Driver’s Car.
Jonny Lieberman and Justin Bell give you an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Motor Trend’s 2011 Best Driver’s Car competition. Find out what happens when eleven of the world’s greatest sports cars hit the road and hit the track in a battle for ultimate