Ferrari is rolling back the roof on its new 458 supercar line with the introduction of the 458 Speciale A that is making its debut at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.
All but identical to the hardtop 458 Speciale, the new V-8 powered 2-seater is reported to be faster around the Ferrari test track than the Italian maker’s legendary Enzo. It’s also an eye-popping design that turned the maker’s show stand into one of the top destinations during the opening day of the Paris show’s media preview.
The maker plans to produce just 499 copies of the Ferrari Speciale A, making it nearly as unique as the maker’s Enzo replacement, the flagship LaFerrari model. Adding to its appeal, there’s strong speculation the convertible could become the last Ferrari road car to use a naturally aspirated V-8 engine.
The “A” shares the same basic mechanicals as the Ferrari 458 Speciale, starting with the 4.5-liter V-8 that makes a hefty 597 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. According to the maker, the Speciale A will launch from 0 to 60 in a mere three seconds, on its way to a 200 mph top speed.
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Ferrari claims the convertible has been turning laps at its Fiorano test track near Modena in a lightning fast one minute 23.5 seconds, which is a wee bit faster than the Enzo, though not quite up to the LaFerrari’s pace.
Operating the cloth top is also quick and easy, taking just 14 seconds for it to fold – or pop out of – a special hiding place ahead of the car’s mid-mounted powertrain.
The 458 makes use carbon fiber and lightweight materials to hold down mass, though it gains about 100 pounds over the Speciale Coupe. It is nonetheless about 200 pounds lighter than the standard-issue 458 coupe. The version on display at the Paris show featured some striking CF details, a number of those quite functional, including the active flaps on the front apron.
The Speciale coupe was the fastest member of the 458 family and featured a number of aero touches, including the tall rear diffuser carried over to the coupe.
As with other recent Ferraris – and a growing list of competing supercars the 458 Speciale A foregos a manual gearbox in favor of a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
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But what could prove even more significant is the rumored decision by Ferrari to make the 458 Speciale A its last road car to go with a traditional, naturally aspirated V-8. Under immense pressure to meet tough new emissions and fuel economy regulations, Ferrari and other sports car manufacturers are adopting more high-tech, downsized alternatives.
The new 907-horsepower Lamborghini Asperion Concept debuting in Paris, for example, features a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, and the LaFerrari relies on a Formula One-derived hybrid system. Going forward, Ferrari is said to be migrating to a twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-8 for future road cars.
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That possibility is expected to turn the new Ferrari 458 Speciale A into an almost instant collector’s piece.