Top Gear’s greatest cars: Ferrari 458 Italia – Telegraph.co.uk

We even made the 458 Italia our car of the year 2011 in the “Money No Object” category. It was a clear winner, despite some seriously capable competition.

The editor of Telegraph Cars at the time, a certain Paul Hudson, said: “The 458 Italia wins because of the pure driving pleasure it delivers – to drivers of all abilities. It flatters your driving while involving you fully in the experience. Hell, it’s even comfortable.”

How can you improve on perfection? At the 2013 Frankfurt motor show, Ferrari responded with the 458 Speciale.

At £208,000, the Speciale cost a not insignificant £30,000 more than the Italia, but that money got you a comprehensive package of engine, suspension and aerodynamic improvements that make the Speciale even more enjoyable at speed.

The free-revving V8 received a power hike, naturally, to 597bhp. But more than that, the sound it makes is even more other-worldly than the standard car, and keeping it in the interesting zone becomes an exercise in restraint as you struggle to stay the sensible side of licence-losing territory.

The 458 was replaced last year by the 488 GTB and though it’s also a looker and as fast as you like, many road testers were disappointed by the sound made by its twin-turbocharged V8.

As in Formula One, turbocharging provides a power hike for any given capacity but makes the exhaust note flat.

Ferrari tried to engineer the turbo engine’s power delivery to mimic that of a naturally aspirated unit but the 458 marked the end of the road for the company’s naturally-aspirated V8s due to the need to conform to ever more stringent emissions legislation.

Clarkson got it spot-on. The 458 was a glorious swansong – and we’ll probably never see its like again.

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