Ferrari 458 Speciale A revealed as possible swan song for non-turbo V8

Ferrari 458 Speciale A

As the line of naturally aspirated Ferrari V8s possibly comes to an end, the Italian manufacturer has announced it will give the powerplant a suitably potential send off with this, the 458 Speciale A.

A spider version of the focussed 458 Speciale, the A stands for Aperta – ‘open’ in Italian – and Ferrari will sell just 499 examples to the most dedicated individuals to the brand to make it as rare as the La Ferrari.

The 458 Speciale A is mechanically identical to the hard-top variation and so becomes the most powerful open-top Ferrari has ever produced with 597bhp on tap going through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Ferrari 458 Speciale A

Forged wheels and a new exhaust help bring the weight of the Speciale A down to 1,340kg dry, 50kg more than the hard-top due to the folding roof mechanism, but 90kg lighter than the regular Spider. Aerodynamic features of the hard-top make their way to the Speciale A, such as the revised front end with active flaps and the taller rear diffuser.

With such power and air punching capabilities, the 458 Speciale A can reach 62mph from standstill in just 3 secs – 0.4 secs faster than the standard Spider – and beats the Enzo around Fiorano with a time of 1 minutes 23.5 secs. Speed hasn’t been disclosed but something that surpasses 200mph is expected; the roof, meanwhile, takes 14 seconds to fold down by the mid-mounted engine.

Ferrari 458 Speciale A Interior

Ferrari has graced the 458 Speciale A with a selection of unique liveries, as well as new Alcantara seats.

A price of around £220,000 is likely to be the price tag for the Ferrari 458 Speciale A, but with the marque looking to add a couple of turbos to the next V8 engine, the Speciale A will be seen as a definite future classic and as such an investor’s dream. Ferrari will put the 458 Speciale A on public display at the Paris motor show next week.

Overview: BMW 2-Series Active Tourer

BMW 2-Series Active Tourer

BMW has broken one of its rules and also expanded into new territory with the new 2-Series Active Tourer: firstly by producing a car with front-wheel drive and then creating its first MPV at the same time.

The new BMW 2-Series Active Tourer can be thought of a ground-breaking model for the Munich firm for those very two reasons and marks a huge change for the company in terms of direction.

Thanks to the exponential success of the MINI, BMW can afford to explore such an area of the market as this and the Active Tourer is even built upon the same architecture as the popular hatchback, albeit stretched to increase space inside for passengers.

It could be seen to be a brave move by BMW to arrive in the MPV market, a sector where people are leaving for the joys of fashionable SUV Crossovers. In addition, the Active Tourer faces some hefty competition in the forms of the Mercedes B-Class, Ford C-Max and Volkswagen Golf SV.

Design

BMW 2-Series Active Tourer Interior

Perhaps one reason many are flocking to the myriad of stylish SUVs is the way in which MPVs are usually so limited in how visually engaging they can be. However, with some slick styling traits from its sleeker offerings, BMW has managed to accomplish one of the better looking models in its class with the Active Tourer. The manufacturer’s trademark kidney grille is front and centre on the 2-Series MPV, while resting just below the headlights and is an arrangement seen already on the new 6-Series and 4-Series.

Panel creases and kinks help to make the Active Tourer’s bulk, something which BMW does well to keep the car looking as trim as possible by breaking up the car’s lines.

BMW might very well have instantly become class-leaders in terms of interior quality with the Active Tourer. A option-laden lush cabin makes the larger 2-Series a fine place to be thanks in large to an abundance of leather and red stitching, as well as aluminium inserts in the dash and centre console which help bring a premium feel to the interior.

Engines

BMW 2-Series Active Tourer

Just the two engines are available at the launch of the new BMW 2-Series Active Tourer: one diesel and one petrol.

The 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel features in the 218d-badged Active Tourer and is likely to be the model’s most popular variant, predominantly due to its economic capabilities that achieves 68.9mpg and CO2 emissions of just 109g/km. For one of BMW’s larger and less sporty examples, the 218d manages 0-62mph in 8.9sec but there is a slight lack of refinement at speed when wind noise is quite noticeable; however, a supple ride certainly helps to make up for this.

As for the petrol offering, BMW has employed MINI’s new 1.5-litre three-cylinder unit. The first three-pot engine in a BMW is more refined than the diesel alternative in the Active Tourer and returns a reasonable 58mpg and emits just 115g/km of CO2.

Practicality

BMW 2-Series Active Tourer

Space inside the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer is not going to be what takes sales away from the likes of the Golf SV or B-Class, that’ll be the fine interior quality and driving dynamics of a car of this size and shape. The Bavarian offers less room than its rivals at 468 litres of space, or 1,510 litres with the back seats down that can be flattened at the flick of a switch.

The rear seating arrangement is a traditional bench for three individuals, and with shorter overall dimensions after being based on a stretched version of the MINI’s structure, the BMW has decent but not class-leading leg room, although isn’t too bad for head room.

Those in the front can enjoy numerous storage areas and a comfortable central arm rest that doubles up as more room to put possessions; a great versatility of adjustment means that the driver can be comfortable no matter what their personal dimensions.

Running costs

BMW 2-Series Active Tourer

Going up against the Golf SV once more, the 2-Series Active Tourer wins this round when it comes to the fuel and tax bills, with the BMW’s diesel achieving 3.2mpg more and a tax band lower on CO2 compared to the VW for the same engine displacement.

The 1.5-litre petrol is a sound option for those after a little more of a quiet journey and costs £2,000 less than the 218d.

Luca di Montezemolo to leave Ferrari

Luca di Montezemolo - Ferrari

Ferrari chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo is set to step down from his role later next month after being in the position since 1991.

The Maranello firm has already named his replaced in current Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, with whom Montezemolo is said to have had spats with in regards to the direction of Ferrari’s road car division, as well as the company’s performances in Formula 1.

Montezemolo became chairman of Ferrari after working his way through the Fiat’s ranks and underneath the 67-year-old, the high-end car maker has seen profits surge and its road and motorsport divisions flourish.

A spokesman for Ferrari has stated that the changes will not affect the company on a day-to-day basis and will be a vital cog in the new FCA Group which came together in the merger between Fiat an Chrysler. Ferrari only accounts for 10 per cent of the group’s turnover, but delivers around 25 per cent of the its profits. The partnership with Maserati will also continue to grow, in which Ferrari shares engineering, development and production facilities.

After 23 years in the role, Montezemolo said: “Ferrari will have an important role to play within the FCA Group in the upcoming flotation on Wall Street.

“This will open up a new and different phase which I feel should be spearheaded by the CEO of the Group.”

Montezemolo added: “This is the end of an era and so I have decided to leave my position as Chairman after almost 23 marvellous and unforgettable years in addition to those spent at Enzo Ferrari’s side in the 1970s.”

The Italian will leave his position officially on 13 October with Marchionne taking over immediately.