One of the many qualities we possess as human beings is the scarcely believable yet inescapable truth that all 7 billion of us are individuals. Inevitably this equates to every single one of us having our own unique viewpoint on any given subject, even if the differences in our opinions are sometimes miniscule. Thankfully, in Western society we value the right to free speech and thought very highly and are quick to chastise oppressive regimes who seek to silence their adversaries.
I’m now going to fully exercise my rights and voice an opinion that I feel will be both unpopular and fairly unique. It relates to Ferrari’s 458 Italia, the latest 200mph, mid engine creation from Maranello. It possesses an astonishing V8 engine, capable of producing 562bhp and, oh I’m just avoiding the point I actually want to make here – IT IS NOT A PRETTY CAR!
There, I’ve said it and I feel much better for it, thank you. Now, before I’m hanged from the nearest suitable tree, please grant me the opportunity to quantify my argument. When one envisages Ferrari, the two words that I imagine would materialise for many people are ‘speed’ and ‘beauty’, not necessarily in that order.
I’m fairly sure that the reason for Ferrari’s enduring popularity is less to do with Formula One and power stats and more to do with the universal acceptance that their road going offerings hold the same overwhelmingly attractive visual qualities when static as they do on the red line at 202mph.
For decades, children and adults alike have placed pictures of Ferraris on their walls, ranging from the sleek lines of the 250 GTO to the elegance of my personal favourite, the F355. Endless women who openly admit to having little automotive passion still can’t help but glance yearningly if a Ferrari should come into view and I just don’t feel that the 458 lives up to its more attractive predecessors.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not been fortunate enough to drive one and I’m not doubting for one minute that it is stupendous fun from behind the wheel. Every single review states that this is a real tour de force for Ferrari and the opposition may as well pack up and go home. One review I read recently though really confirmed my fears regarding the 458’s visual appeal. The review in question was assessing the Italia’s abilities when put against a close competitor – the McLaren MP4 – 12C. The result was astonishingly close it terms of speed and agility but what I simply couldn’t draw myself away from was how similar the two cars looked.
Now, McLaren have either made or contributed in making some of the finest driving machines ever, fact. Their engineering prowess is unquestionable and much of the technology they develop for their F1 cars then appears on their road cars, this can be no bad thing when your primary objective is getting quickly from point to point. What McLaren are not renowned for however is producing beautiful machines. I’m not saying they’re ugly but function over form is evidently their mantra, I mean, even the name MP4-12C sounds functional, kind of like a washing machine.
If you place the 458 Italia and the MP4-12C next to each other, their similarity is evident for all to see and this is my point. A Ferrari has always been instantly recognisable, take away its badges and most people would successfully pick one out in a line-up. The 458 however seems to have somehow been born lacking some of this Ferrari-ness and the world can only be a far more wretched place when you take away Ferrari-ness.
By Ben Harrington
- Ferrari 458 Spider (motortrend.com)
- The Perplexed Observer : Ferrari 458 Italia 4499 cc V8 is the first Ferrari direct injection engine (theperplexedobserver.blogspot.com)
- Ferrari versus McLaren (motorquotedirect.co.uk)
- 2010 Ferrari 458 Italia – 1:36.22 (motortrend.com)