Ferrari’s are known for their high revving, over enthusiastic, banshee-screeching exhaust notes and skin raising excitement, except for the F12, that car is just brutal, and that’s why we love it. But what is it about the scarlet prancing horse that turns heads, encourages drool and quickly changes any conversation into, “did you see that Ferrari, oh it’s gone”? It has to be the amazing power plant usually situated somewhere in the middle of the car, pretty much right behind your head, mere inches away from your ears!
What makes a Ferrari engine so rememberable is its sheer beauty and the fact that a persons smile/excitement levels are directly proportional to the rev counter on that car. The higher you rev it, the bigger the smile, explains why all Ferrari owners all resemble the joker from batman, well kind of.
The real question we are trying to get it is, will this all change once Ferrari join the turbo charged generation? We all know when you add a turbo, you reduce the engine capacity, drop the rev limit and allow for additional boost and all of a sudden lose that instant access to power that naturally aspirated cars are all best known for. With that said, what you gain is power, better fuel consumption and emissions, that’s a good thing, ask any polar bear or tree hugger.
So, do Ferrari actually know what they are doing? When was the last time they dabbled with boost and forced induction? It has been decades since Ferrari dealt with blow off valves and spinning turbines, this doesn’t mean that they are completely clueless. Remember the 288 GTO? Well that has a sneaky twin-turbo setup, and who could ever forget arguably the greatest Ferrari ever built, the spin crushing, no frills Ferrari F40! If we look back at those 2 cars, we have to beg the question, why did Ferrari stop there? Why didn’t they turbo charge ever model after that? We think that Ferrari prefer to deal with all natural, less complicated, predictable power delivery. Back when the 288 GTO and F40 were produced, turbo charging was quite primitive. What we mean by that is, you plant your right foot hard to the floor, the revs climb quite slowly, and then, you don’t really go anywhere. Then there is a slight hissing sound, this is your first warning that all hell is about to break loose. As the hissing gets louder, there is a sudden rush of exhaust gas being forced out of the pipes. You blink and the rev counter needle jumps to the red line and you are propelled, what feels like, the future. All of a sudden that apex you were trying to nail on the exit of a corner is upon you, but unfortunately for you, you are facing the wrong way, in which case, you have just spun your Ferrari.
Naturally aspirated engines provide a more predictable power curve, as the rev needle climbs, so does your speed and you know that after 3,000 rpm comes 4,000rpm. Unlike a turbo charged car that can skip all the numbers in between and jump straight to the redline. This doesn’t mean that these physics benders were completely uncontrollable. Like any car, one just needed to know how to control the power and it’s tiny band it lives in.
As time, technology and global environmental concerns have changed quite a bit in the last 10 years, car manufacturers have decided to change with the times, making a conscious effort to save the environment by cutting down on fuel consumption and carbon emissions. What this means is that large, naturally aspirated engines are getting smaller, but to keep up with the trend of power and performance, turbo charging has quickly become the light that guides all manufacturers, just ask all the teams participating in this years F1. BMW have made a complete move to turbo charging, and as mentioned the other day, by 2016 there might not be a naturally aspirated Porsche 911. So what are Ferrari going to do? They have already experimented with the California Turbo, which let’s face it, is less of a performance car then the 458 Italia.
Well, rumour has it that Ferrari are planning on downsizing the 4.5 litre V8 (get it 4-5-8) Italia, elegantly slapping a turbo, or 2, onto it and with that, plan to throw a full on assault at McLaren and it’s 650S, 641bhp (478kW) by producing a 670bhp (500kW) Ferrari 458. Currently code named the 458 M (“m” meaning modified).
To do this, Ferrari have to make some changes to the current 458 setup. The new, smaller capacity engine should help to deliver all-important improvements to fuel consumption and emissions figures, while also sliding under a Chinese-market tax threshold that hits vehicles with capacities greater than 4.0 litres. Expect the new V8 will feature dry-sump lubrication, modified induction, a high 12:1 compression ratio and Ferrari’s ‘ion’ knock detection system, which allows all eight cylinders to individually adjust to different conditions to maximise performance. Clever stuff that. Ferrari engineers are also working on retaining Ferrari’s trademark high-power ‘over-square’ engine geometry. Simply put, the cylinder width (bore) is greater than the cylinder travel (stroke), typically achieving more power at high revs, again, smiles/excitement are directly proportional to the rev counter!
The smaller V8 unit has a smaller bore, so engine geometry could be closer to ‘square’, to prevent this, engineers may instead opt for a smaller stroke, which would reduce overall engine capacity to as low as 3.5 litres, smaller then the McLaren’s 3.8 litre found in the 650S. To try retain the 458’s distinctively loud exhaust note and instant power delivery, something most 458 fans find unique with the current models, including the Speciale, in fact, especially the Speciale, Ferrari might go with a twin-turbo setup, much like the 288 GTO and F40. With more power, comes more, well strengthening. The gear box will need updating as there will be quite an increase in power, but a significant increase in torque. This comes standard with any turbo charged setup.
The last thing Ferrari might have to change, sadly, is the name. 458 standard for 4.5 litre, V8. When they turbo charge this engine, it will remain a V8, but it will drop from a 4.5 litre, to above mentioned, possibly 3.5 litre. The funny thing about naming of modern day cars is that they aren’t all particularly true. Take for example the Mercedes C63 AMG. It is actually a 6.2 litre engine, but it pays homage to the racing engines used by Mercedes in the past, 6.3 litre. The newest C63 will apparently become a 4.0 litre V8. For some this might just be marketing, or just semantics. For others though (mostly petrol-heads) it means something a whole lot more, a name with meaning.
We are interested to see what Ferrari end up doing. For now, here are some BEAUTIFUL pictures of the current Speciale. We figure that the 458 M might look quite similar.