Performance Car of the Year: Ferrari 458 Italia
Why it won...
Twelve months on from its debut win as Performance Car of the Year, the remarkable Ferrari 458 Italia is still our number one choice. Despite the best efforts of a host of talented new rivals, including the McLaren MP4-12C, the gorgeous 458 Italia emerged from our annual high-performance shoot-out with its crown intact.
The Ferrari’s blend of ferocious supercar pace, jaw-dropping looks and breathtaking handling proved too much for the competition, meaning that the 458 became only the second car ever to secure back-to-back titles. (The other was the Porsche Cayman.)
At the heart of any Italian car is its engine – and the Ferrari is no exception. Sitting just behind the driver and passenger, the 4.5-litre V8 is a genuine engineering masterpiece, delivering a knock-out punch and a howling soundtrack that’s music to any car fan’s ears.
Better still, the brilliant seven-speed twin clutch gearbox delivers crisp upshifts and a delicious blip of the throttle on downchanges, which encourages you to constantly pull on the steering wheel-mounted paddles just for fun.
Yet it’s the 458’s ability to blend this eye-popping pace with approachable and engaging handling that really impresses. The steering is scalpel sharp, allowing you to place the car with laser-like precision, while the mid-engined layout delivers perfect balance and poise in corners.
It doesn’t matter how experienced or skilled you are behind the wheel, the Ferrari will flatter your ability and leave you grinning from ear to ear. And when you’re not blasting down a back road or attempting a fast lap at a track day, you can simply sit back and enjoy the Ferrari’s gorgeous lines.
Penned by legendary Italian styling house Pininfarina, it effortlessly blends hi-tech and aggressive aerodynamic design with classic mid-engined Ferrari styling cues. Better still, the recent arrival of the drop-top Spyder allows you to open up the roomy and luxuriously appointed cabin to the elements, as well as get you closer to that fabulous engine and its spine-tingling mechanical symphony.
Yes the Ferrari is expensive, but just a short drive confirms that this incredible machine is worth every penny.
Price: £173,181Engine: 4.5-litre V8, 562bhpTransmission: Seven-speed twin-clutch0-60mph: 3.3 seconds0-100mph: 6.7 secondsTop speed: 202mph
- 1IntroductionThe awards everyone wants to win are back as we name the finest models in 18 categories and crown our Car of the Year for 2012
- 2Best City Car
- 3Best SuperminiPeugeot has rediscovered its touch. The RCZ coupe has been winning awards and turning heads for the last couple of years
- 4Best Compact Family CarIt was always going to take something special to beat the Volkswagen Golf, and the new BMW 1 Series is exactly that.
- 5Best Family Car
- 6Best Five-Seat MPVThe C-MAX has emerged from the shadow of the big-selling Ford Focus, and it deserves to take centre stage.
- 7Best Seven-Seat MPVThe SEAT Alhambra has made the MPV sector its own and after scooping the top prize last year, nothing in the past 12 months has been able to dislodge it from the top of the class
- 8Best Estate CarThe Skoda Superb Estate has scored a hat-trick of wins in the Estate Car category at our annual awards, and it’s going to take something seriously talented to knock it off the top step of the podium next time around.
- 9Best Crossover
- 10Best Compact SUV
- 11Best Large SUVIf the Discovery carries on at this rate, it will deserve an outstanding achievement award at our next New Car Awards.
- 12Best Hot HatchA fast Ford is back on top of the hot hatch pile, and having met the people behind the new Focus ST, we’re not surprised.
- 13Best ConvertibleThe best convertibles need to be as good with their roofs up as they are with them folded, and the Golf Cabriolet is exactly that.
- 14Best CoupePeugeot is back with a bang this year – although it never really went away.
- 15Best Roadster