When we drove the 430 Scuderia in 2007, Ferrari had things very much its own way. There was the Lamborghini Gallardo, of course – and equally loud and intoxicating it was, too – but with four-wheel drive and a V10 engine, it couldn’t match the 430’s responses.
Today, however, things are different, because in addition to the Lamborghini Huracán – in its first iteration and which we’ve not yet driven in this country – there is the small matter of McLaren and its 650S.
The 650S is a series-production car rather than a limited-run special, but when it comes to road driving, the Ferrari 458 Speciale gets a run for its money. It steers with the lightness and directness that we’ve come to expect from one of Maranello’s cars – too much quickness, in fact, for some of our testers.
And while the adaptive dampers have two modes – a normal setting and a firmer one as you move through to the manettino’s angrier settings – neither is as compliant as the one in the 650S. Does that matter? Between race tracks, it might.
That’s not to say that the Speciale is harsh. (At least, not in its ride. In its cabin refinement, it’s little more dignified than a Radical RXC. At 70mph, there is 78dB of background hum. Flat out in third, there is a deafening 95dB.) But when it comes to both ride isolation and body control, in its softer mode the Speciale gives a touch away to the McLaren.