Ferrari is embracing fuel efficiency with a new turbocharged version of the 458 Italia. Rumoured to be badged the 458M, the cleaner but more powerful replacement for the 458 Italia is expected to debut at the Paris Motor Show in October, before going on sale in early 2015, but these spy shots give us an early indication of what to expect.
Ferrari has already fitted a 552bhp 3.8-litre turbocharged V8 to the new California T and it’s the same engine – albeit in a higher state of tune – that’s the firm favourite to make it into the radically overhauled 458M. Replacing the scintillating naturally-aspirated 4.5-litre V8 with a much smaller unit isn’t necessarily bad news – the headline power figure is expected to be around 100bhp higher than the 458 Italia, taking it up to 662bhp, with significantly more torque, too.
The 458 Italia is hardly slow – covering 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds and topping out at 198mph – but considering the California T is now capable of 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds, the 458M should be in another league still. A 0-62mph time below 3.0-seconds is possible with a top speed north of 200mph. An increase in the 458 Italia’s current claimed fuel economy of 20.6mpg is also expected.
Beyond the mechanical changes the styling will also be refreshed. The flexible rubber winglets in the front grille look identical to the current car, although there appears to be a vent behind the front wheel arch to improve air flow down the side of the car. At the rear, the triple central exhaust pipe arrangement has been ditched in favour of two raised pipes – just like the 458 Speciale – surrounded by a new bumper and diffuser design.
Ferrari’s challenge will be retaining the 458’s spine-tingling soundtrack and instant throttle response – not easy with a forced-induction engine. Expect ECU management tricks, torque-limiting in lower gears and a complex exhaust arrangement to make sure the 458M is as vocal and sharp to drive as its predecessor.
Now watch our video review of the Ferrari 458 Speciale...