Ferrari is a brand that is known globally and carries with it prestige, heritage and pedigree that no other automotive manufacturer could ever match. With icons such as the F40,F50, 250 GTO it is no surprise that the pressure is on a the boys in Maranello to produce machines that are inspirational and will continue to be the most desirable.
The latest generation V8 is something very contentious as it sprouted a set of turbochargers in the back of the 488. Yes, the F40 and others were turbocharged, but as modern Ferraris go, turbocharging is uncharted territory aside from the Formula 1 car that has been embarrassed by the infallible Mercedes-AMG powerplant. The last naturally aspirated V8 was arguably the best V8 not only to grace a Ferrari, but any car from the past decade. It is a shame that the free breathing engine has been consigned to the history books, but Ferrari took the opportunity to make a car that was exceptional and mighty, the 458 Speciale and Speciale Aperta. I flew over to Abu Dhabi and met a friend that owns a unique Speciale Aperta. Here are 10 reasons why this car is so sublime.
A Speciale mention to @The23Collection for letting me shoot and experience this phenomenal car!
1. That Engine
Here are the figures. There is a 4.5-litre V8 (458) that sit behind the passenger cabin and churns out a not so insignificant 597 horsepower that is delivered at a howling 9,000rpm. You get 398lb ft of torque and if you want you can achieve 24mpg…but believe me, you won’t want to.
2. The Speed
It is a Ferrari. It is meant to be fast. Yes the 488 is quicker, but that is a new generation Ferrari and, of course, it is turbocharged. That is not to say the Speciale is a slouch, not by any measure. 0-100 km/h is gone in 3 seconds, a figure that is up there with the fastest rear-wheel-drive cars ever and the Aperta will charge on to 320 km/h. Big speed.
3. The Noise
Oh yes, THE NOISE. Believe it or not Ferrari made the Aperta quieter than the Speciale and by a considerable 30%. Why? The Speciale Aperta was so loud and raw the Italians feared that bodily fluids would leak from your ear holes. Side by side you will notice that the Aperta is not as vocal but the tune is sings is ever sweeter. Pull a downshift and chase the redline as the crescendo builds, pull an upshift and do it again and again.
4. The Handling
The 458 Italia was a vast step on from the 430 in terms of handling and precision. It was the first Ferrari that was fitted with a super quick steering rack that combined with mid-engined layout and fantastic chassis took Ferrari to new levels. The Speciale moved the game on even further. A new traction control program, Slide Slip Control II, was implemented that flattered even the most amateur of drivers. Such characteristics cemented the Speciale as one of the greatest drivers cars of the 21st century.
5. The Looks
Looks are always subjective, but in my eyes the Aperta is a drop-dead-gorgeous supercar. It looks so taught and purposeful and then you retract the roof and it looks like a missile. @The23Collection car that I drove and you see photographed here has been treated to the full Ferrari Tailor Made program and looks sensational. There are dozens of different combinations that I have seen and there is not one I have not desired.
6. The Exclusivity
There was no figure put on the production run of Speciales. They were built to demand but it would be brave to say there are more than 2000 in the world. Rather exclusive, but no where near as exclusive as the Speciale Aperta. Ferrari built 499 and that is reflected in the prices of used examples with some costing twice as much the Speciale Coupe. Bonkers.
7. The Roof
This is is fairly simple. You may love them of hate them, but convertibles bring another dimension to motoring. On a crisp spring morning or a warm evening retracting the roof of a supercar takes the experience to another level. When a car sounds as good as the Aperta you will want to have the roof down at any given opportunity.
8. The Comfort
Don’t forget, this is a Ferrari so please bare with me. Take the car out of RACE, stick hit the AUTO button as well as the Bumpy Road Setting and the Speciale Aperta becomes a very pleasant place to be. The ride is very compliant and the cabin has vast amounts of space that you would never expect. The seat options are also huge and can accommodate humans of different shapes and sizes.
9. The Simplicity
Modern cars as festooned with buttons, systems and buttons. Yes, so does the Aperta, but it’s layout is so simple and what you need is right there in front of you within your thumbs reach. The steering wheel controls came under harsh criticism but in an age where the power of Apollo space crafts are now in smartphones, it only takes a few minutes before it all becomes second nature. It means you can focus on what matters but still be comfortable with all the features.
10. The Feeling It Gives You
I will never stop saying that I had the opportunity to drive the Aperta. The feeling the car gives you is surreal. The noise dominates the experience. Twist the Manettino to RACE and the car suddenly tenses up. Switch the gearbox to manual and brush your fingertips along the gigantic carbon paddles behind the wheel. Mash the throttle and the V8 sings with such grace underlined with brutality. Then you bleed on the carbon ceramic brakes, that are the same as those on the LaFerrari, and pull for a downshift and you feel the car working to slow you down. The gear changes are like nothing else, you feel as if you are at one with the car. In a world of MDCT and PDK where gearshift are nothing more than changes in tone, it is almost primeval to pull and paddle and physically feel the car working. It is glorious. The idiosyncrasies of the machine charm you. An Italian infatuation that will besot you into bed and assault your senses.