Ferrari’s current lineage of special-series mid-engined V8s began in the early 1990s. Starting in 1992, Ferrari made just over 100 examples of the 348 Speciale, which had more power, shorter gearing, a wider rear track and stickier tyres.

In 1999, Ferrari produced the limited-run F355 Fiorano and followed it in 2003 with the 360 Challenge Stradale. The 430 Scuderia was the Speciale’s immediate forebear, unveiled in 2007 and made into a drop-top Spider 16M the year after.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The engine is on display beneath a lightweight Lexan cover – the sort you probably shouldn't lean on heavily

In simplistic terms, the road to the Speciale can be summed up in four words: more power, less weight.

There are other, more detailed changes, too, obviously, but those are the cornerstones around which everything else is shaped.

Power first, then. The normally aspirated, flat-plane crank V8 retains its 4497cc swept capacity but receives new cam geometry with higher valve lift, shorter inlet manifolds and different pistons providing a higher compression ratio.

Internal friction has been reduced, too, through the use of uprated materials and the upshot is 597bhp (up from 562bhp) generated at the engine’s 9000rpm limit. Torque is the same, at 398lb ft, still delivered at 6000rpm.

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The engine is mated to a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox whose upshifts, we were told at the launch of such gearboxes, are all but instant. That’s still true, but Ferrari has improved the response time to a pull on the lever and made the engine rev-match more quickly on downshifts to reduce the time that those take.

The engine’s changes shave 8kg from the car’s overall weight – the exhaust is all aluminium and the intake is carbonfibre. Those 8kg form part of a claimed 90kg total saving that was replicated to the kilo on our scales: at 1395kg now, versus 1485kg for a 458 Italia when we tested it four years ago.

Of this 90kg, 12kg is contributed by lighter, forged wheels, 13kg comes from bodywork and window changes (lighter glass all round and Lexan for the engine cover), and 20kg comes from the cabin, which we’ll come to in a moment. 

There are two flaps on the Speciale’s front valance, one either side of the prancing horse badge in its centre. Below 106mph these flaps remain closed, which diverts air towards the radiators. Above that speed, the radiators get quite enough cool air, thanks very much, so the flaps open, which reduces drag.

Then, above 137mph, they move again, lowering to shift downforce to the rear of the car, in turn adjusting the balance 20 per cent rearward in order to promote high-speed cornering stability.

At the rear, meanwhile, there is a new diffuser (the exhausts have been rerouted to make the most of its central section). Movable flaps in the diffuser adjust, but this time they are dependent not only on speed but also on steering angle and throttle or brake position.

When lowered, the flaps stall the path of air into the diffuser and improve the Cd by 0.03. When raised, the diffuser adds downforce as it should.

Bodywork changes, though, also bring some aerodynamic improvements, you’ll not be surprised to hear, with lessons applied from the LaFerrari and FXX programmes. In the front valance and under the rear diffuser, there are flaps that open at speed to reduce drag and improve downforce.

Finally, there are new Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres in a unique compound – rather a sticky one, we suspect – plus new calibration for the adaptive dampers. The carbon-ceramic brake discs also use a new compound.

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