New Ferrari Italia – The five levels of toxicity
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The youngest child of the Ferrari family: the 458 Italia with conspicuously pointed headlights.
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Its 570 hp accelerate the car from zero to 100 km / h in 3.4 seconds.
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Its top speed is 325 km / h. To get there you need a free motorway or a racetrack with a very long home straight.
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The red switch at the bottom right of the steering wheel has it all: Here you can set the effectiveness of the driver assistance systems in five stages.
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The mighty eight-cylinder achieves 9000 revolutions with a displacement of 4.5 liters.
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The 458 Italia feels very light and goes around corners almost like a kart.
This car also bears Michael Schumacher’s technical signature. But that’s not the only reason why the Ferrari 458 Italia is a new masterpiece from Maranello. The many other reasons become apparent when you approach the car where it belongs: on the Fiorano race track.
E.A racetrack that is not driven can exude something sublime. You can see over the peacefully lying gray, notice the black traces of tire wear and the striped curbs – and you think you can hear them, the huge, high-revving engines. It’s the sound of superior performance; whoever thinks it is noise now has the chance to go away, very far away. Ten minutes until the track is open for a first test drive in the new Ferrari 458 Italia.
The car is already there, in a garage with red tiles. Here at the Pista di Fiorano, Ferrari‘s own race track, almost everything is red, and this is one of the few places where this color doesn’t seem intrusive, but natural: Enzo Ferrari’s house is less than 50 paces away. The technicians warm up the engine in the garage. Everything should be ready for the big moment when the right foot reaches the floor plate and the eight-cylinder in the rear is let off the leash.
This motor has 9000 revolutions. This is only half of what the Formula 1 machines from the same stable can produce, but firstly it is an astonishing value for such a large engine (4.5 liter displacement), and secondly it has to, in contrast to a Grand -Prix engine, hold almost endlessly. Anyway, 9000 revs make a lot of ruckus. The trumpets of Jericho are a gentle breeze against a Ferrari 458 Italia that is turning out of gear on the straight. In these moments it sounds like a racing car, but it is street legal.
Michael Schumacher was involved in the development from the start, says Ferrari’s chief technology officer Roberto Fedeli. “He took four hours ten times. He always drove for an hour, then three hours of discussion. ”According to Fedeli, the adjustability of the chassis is due to Schumacher’s account – you should be able to move the car quickly even on rough roads, which is why the 458 springs softer at the push of a button.
In addition, the seven-time Formula 1 world champion contributed to the settings of the Manettino. This "little switch" sits on the steering wheel and you can use it to set the toxicity of the car in five levels: "Slow", "Sport", "Race" and above that two offers for advanced users. You do without the traction control ("CT Off") and then the stability system ("CTS Off"). Driving in its purest form, with 570 hp in the back, 58 percent weight on the rear axle, of course rear-wheel drive.
Dario Benuzzi, Ferrari’s chief test driver, takes over the first two laps, and the Fiorano novice sits next to him, holds on to something and tries to learn. It’s difficult because Benuzzi doesn’t say much (he hardly speaks any English) and because he drives unspectacularly. Focused the gaze, the steering movements sparingly. The set-up of the new car supports this driving style: the 458 Italia feels extremely light, and it goes around corners almost like a kart. The steering is so direct that you don’t even have to change your hand in the hairpin bends.
At first this is unusual, and the tremendous thrust that the engine generates (540 Newton meters) also needs to be controlled. To put it bluntly: The first three self-driven laps are a fiasco. Almost too fast before every corner, therefore always too long on the brakes, afterwards too hard on the gas, so that the traction control has to keep the spinning rear wheels in check. So you never manage the lap time of one minute and 25 seconds that Schumacher and Benuzzi put on the asphalt here. However, the stopwatches are also switched off during test drives by amateurs – too much ambition only hurts.
Roberto Fedeli listens to the first reports and smiles knowingly. This is exactly how he wanted the new Ferrari: It should be more evil than its predecessor, the F430, but at the same time easier to drive. A second attempt, now approached more calmly, shows what the trained aerospace engineer means. Suddenly the car obeys, now it’s game and not fight. The dual clutch transmission shifts through the seven gears in a flash and without the slightest loss of traction.
When downshifting, the Ferrari intermittently double-declutching, and those who are cool enough to keep the left shift paddle pulled behind the steering wheel while braking into a bend will experience what "Formula 1 ABS" means: the car shifts down gear by gear, until you take off the brakes, and then the gear for accelerating out is immediately appropriate.
It’s impressive, and now there would be enough confidence to try “CT Off”, that is, without traction control. The Ferrari allows a 55 degree drift angle until the stabilization system intervenes, it says in the garage. 194,000 euros in almost free skid, you should have tried that, but in the end only 20 minutes of Fiorano travel time were available.
It was supposed to be 30 minutes, but at first the journey was so fast, and then the trumpet was not just sound, but also noise, and its average value is recorded. If it exceeds a certain limit, the cars have to stand still until the computer gives the green light again.
Here, of all places. In the past, residents would sit on the balconies, hang out the flags and watch the goings-on. Today they complain about the noise. Again the route lies still. Sometimes there is also something sad about it.
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