Ferrari 458 Speciale Malaysian Launch

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As part of the Ferrari Racing Days 2014 last weekend, NAZA Italia and Ferrari unveiled the new 458 Speciale at Sepang International Circuit. Let me walk you through the launch experience and understand a little better what the new Speciale has to offer.

This is only the second supercar launching event that I have attended so far (First was McLaren P1) and I was really excited to see the new 458 Speciale up close. Immediately after receiving my media pass at the front, I headed to Paddock Pit #8 where the launch was held. There the car was, hidden underneath the red cloth waiting to be uncovered.

At 11am plus, when all VIP members and medias had set foot into the room, our famous Malaysian celebrity/comedian, Harith Iskander took over the stage, emcee-ing for the official launch of Ferrari 458 Speciale!

To quickly get into the climax of the event - the unveiling, Harith Iskander called upon Datuk Maruan Mohd Said, Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategic Investment Division, NAZA World (Left) for a welcome speech. And, followed by Mr Giuseppe Cattaneo, Head of Ferrari Far East (Right), representing Ferrari to introduce the new 458 Speciale. He described it as a car that is not for everyone. Not because of its price tag, but because it's a real fast car and requires skills to drive it!

After the playback of the 458 Speciale introduction video, the unveiling began. Check the unveiling of the 458 Speciale above.

(From left) Model A, Mr Wan Ahmad, GM of NAZA Italia; Mr Giuseppe Cattaneo; Mr Simon Inglefield, Head of ASEAN, Ferrari Far East; Datuk Maruan Mohd Said and Model B, posing for the camera...

... before settling down in their seats in front of the supercar for a short QnA session.

Voila, here's the lovely 458 Speciale! It is Ferrari's latest model and a hardcore version of the 458 Italia. Something like stradale version of the 360 and Scuderia version of the 430. So, is it simply a facelifed model of the 458 with fancy racing stripe? Nope, we know Ferrari'll never do that.

According to Ferrari, 458 Speciale is the most powerful natural-aspirated V8 engine ever in a production car. The 4.5L V8 mid-rear-engine now outputs 597hp (35hp more than Italia) at high 9000rpm redline and 540Nm of torque at 6000rpm. The result is, it can sprint from 0-100km/h in just 3 seconds and 0-200km/h in 9.1 seconds. These incredible figures are made possible by high 14.0:1 compression ratio, improved combustion chamber and plenty lightweight parts.

The most distinct feature when you first look at the car is its newly redesigned aerodynamic styling which may not be to everyone's taste. It portrays a meaner and more extreme character of the already-beautiful 458. However, those 'facial' features are actually functional.

Apart from wider grills venting more air into the radiators, the 458 Speciale also incorporates active aerodynamics technology. Two vertical flaps situated beside the chrome steed will open up at over 170km/h, allowing air to go in and cuts drag for better stability. At 220km/h, horizontal flap at the bottom lowers down, channeling more air beneath the car and shifts downforce to the rear axle.

The passive aero shark fins at the side help on the downforce as well.

Remember the unique three exhaust pipes on the Italia/Spider? They have been replaced with two larger exhaust pipes mounted high above the new aggressive diffuser.

Ferrari's active aerodynamics mechanism applies at the back too. Three red-flaps below the diffuser automatically lowered to reduce drag and raised for high downforce depending the car's speed. With all the new functional aero parts, Ferrari claims the 458 Speciale is the most aero efficient Ferrari ever made with its aero efficiency value of 1.50! (1.09 on Italia)

The improvements continued on with: New carbon ceramic Brembo braking system and, lighter 20" forged wheels on Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. Ferrari partnered with Michelin to develop a more consistent tyre performance for the Speciale and handles better in wet condition.

SSC or Side Slip-Angle Control is something new developed by Ferrari. What SSC does is, it electronically analyses and controls the amount of torque on the rear wheels via F1-Trac traction control and E-Diff electronic differential, making sure there's enough speed and traction while your car is at sideways. It's a new high-tech control system and applied for the first time on a Ferrari.

The interior of 458 Speciale has been fully stripped. You will not find any carpet, radio or satellite navigation in this car, just more carbon fibers and lightweight parts for weight reduction purpose. Total weight of this car is mere 1290kg (90kg lighter than Italia).

And, I personally loved the carbon fiber bucket seats with 4-point harnesses made by Sabelt.

When everything (engine, aerodynamics, weight, SSC, etc) translates to the popular Fiorano track, this V8 beauty can achieve a quick lap time of 1'23"5, just 0.5 seconds after the poweful V12 engined F12 Berlinetta. Ferrari has successfully made the 458 even faster!

Mr Giuseppe Cattaneo mentioned that Ferrari will not limit the production units of this car and invites Malaysian customers to own it at an introductory price of RM1,238,800 without tax and a year waiting list. Currently, 20 bookings of the 'special' Ferrari have been made through local dealer NAZA Italia and the first one is expected to arrive in middle of year 2014. :D

Speciale may carry a hefty price tag compared to the standard 458 Italia, but Ferrari has put in so much consideration to improving the car in every possible aspect - resulting in an advanced and more powerful V8 mid-engined supercar that's also lots of fun to drive. Furthermore, with that strikingly good-looking blue and white racing stripe, the Speciale might even grab more attention than the Italia and Spider.

This ends the 458 Speciale launch event at Sepang on the very first day of Ferrari Racing Days and I'll continue my coverage on both track and pit actions for more Ferrari awesomeness. :D

At the mean time, enjoy a lil more gallery on the Speciale.

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