What seemed like an impossible scenario a couple of years ago might become reality within the next twelve months, as Ferrari is reportedly working on an entry-level version of the 458 Italia. That’s the word coming from Automobile, which claims the Italians are set to introduce a twin-turbo, 2.9-liter, V-6 engine, and create a more efficient and less expensive sports car based on the popular 458.
Shocked? You should be. Last time Ferrari used a V-6 engine in a road-going car it was 1974 in the soon-to-retire Dino . Since then, all V-6 units have motivated Formula One cars exclusively. It happened from 1980 through 1988 before FIA reintroduced V-6 power units to the sport for the 2014 season.
Details are rather scarce, but such a move would make a lot of sense given the market’s current shift to smaller, more efficient units. So what’s Ferrari hoping to achieve by rolling out an entry-level 458 ? Skip past the jump to find out.
Click past the jump to read more about Ferrari’s future plans.
McLaren P13 killer?
With the McLaren P13 and the Mercedes AMG GT right around the corner, the V-6 458 would come in handy and enable Ferrari to jump into a sports car segment dominated by the Porsche 911 . Sure, the Italians could do that without putting together a brand-new, V-6 engine, but a smaller, 2.9-liter powerplant will help lower the manufacturer’s high CO2 footprint.
Additionally, a sub-3-liter engine will likely become very popular in China, a country where taxes for units displacing more than three liters aren’t very encouraging. It’s no longer a mystery that Ferrari is aiming to grow its business in Asia, and China is already a key market now that the company’s first Tailor-Made Center is operating in Beijing.
Reportedly scheduled to arrive as soon as next year alongside the turbocharged 458M , the yet unnamed entry-level sports car could benefit from 500 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque, Automobile adds. The output would enable it to take on both the McLaren P13 and the Porsche 911 Turbo . Should a more powerful iteration (think Speciale) come out of Maranello, the six-banger could also nip at the exhaust tips of the 911 Turbo S.
Expect the entry-level Ferrari to fetch somewhere between $200,000 and $250,000.
Why It Matters
As the petrol-blooded creatures that we are, we just hate it when naturally aspirated V-12s or V-8s have to ditch cylinders and marry a turbocharger. However, these sinful relationships are getting harder and harder to avoid nowadays, when emission regulations are becoming increasingly restrictive and oil prices keep going up. And Ferrari is one of those automakers that has reached a point when tradition must come second to survival.
The good news is Maranello is no stranger to such strategy shifts. The California T speaks for itself and we bet the V-6 458, or whatever its name will be, won’t be anything less than spectacular.
The Ferrari 458 Italia was introduced for the 2010 model year, and, as its name suggests, it is powered by a 4.5-liter, V-8 engine. The naturally aspirated mill pumps 562 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque through a seven-speed automated manual transmission and pushes the sports car from o to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. Designed by Pininfarina, the 458 comes in a rear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive configuration and can be had as either a Berlinetta or a Spider.
Like most entry-level Ferraris, the 458 has spawned many iterations and special editions, including the Challenge and the Speciale . The sports car’s presence on race tracks is provided by the GT2 and the GT3 , both successful in numerous FIA-governed series and endurance racing events.