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Auto blogWed, 27 Aug 2014 16:57:00 EST
While it's still absolutely beautiful and a performance marvel (especially in Speciale trim), the Ferrari 458 Italia has to keep up with the rapidly evolving world in supercars if it wants to continue its success. Ferrari seems to know that it can't sit back and relax, because we're now seeing a disguised 458 testing for the second time.
Since we first saw it, rumor has emerged that it updated 458, reportedly called 458 M, may follow the lead of the recently revised California by using its turbocharged 3.9-liter V8 engine. The mill makes 553 horsepower and 557 pound-feet in that application, but those numbers clearly won't be enough for the Prancing Horse, because the standard 458 already makes more. Instead, Ferrari is expected to turn things up significantly to produce around 670hp, even more than the already gutsy Speciale.
Of course, to make the big change work, the 458 M must be able to ingest huge quantities of cool air to feed those turbos, and the camouflage on this test car is likely hiding the body changes to make that possible. Ferrari does a great job here of disguising things up front on this prototype, making it frustratingly hard to spot any changes.
Lots of contact, debris cautions, trips into the wall, full-course yellows and a red flag - these are the kinds of racing terms you unbox when you want to have a conversation about NASCAR... or the Formula One grand prix of Monaco. In this case we're not talking about the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, we're talking about 78 laps in the South of France that even featured a fallen camera cable just like that stock-car race.
This year, Mercedes-AMG Petronas drivers treated their chassis' like busses instead of F1 cars, Romain Grosjean treated his Lotus like a battering ram, Sergio Perez kept sticking his McLaren's nose in places and eventually got it smacked, and maybe the size of the drivers' mirrors should be changed instead of the tires as there were almost as many firsts as there were crashes. Plenty of F1 fans wish Monaco were removed from the calendar, yet even though it doesn't specialize in traditional thrills, that doesn't mean nothing happens during the parade through - and into - the barriers.
Ferrari tends to sell its models out extremely quickly - its wait lists are the stuff of legend. That's especially true when the cars in question are of the fastest or most exclusive variety. If new reports are to be believed, Maranello has already sold the entire 499-unit production run of its new LaFerrari hypercar, and now Australia's Motoring is claiming that Ferrari has also filled its order book for the entire first year's production run of its new 458 Speciale.
For those unfamiliar, the 458 Speciale follows in a proud line of hardcore mid-engined V8 Ferraris in the footsteps of the 360 Challenge Stradale and 430 Scuderia. It's lighter, more powerful and more aerodynamically advanced than the 458 Italia upon which it's based, and just trails half a second behind the more powerful F12 Berlinetta (and the aforementioned LaFerrari) as the third-quickest road car ever to lap the Italian automaker's Fiorano test track. That means it's quicker even than the 599 GTO and Enzo.
Although we've yet to receive official word, we're expecting a sticker price approaching $300,000 - about a quarter more than the 458 Italia. But that doesn't appear to have stopped Ferrari from raking in the orders. Check it out in our substantially updated image gallery above.