OCT 17th 2014

GRR Read Test: Autocar 15 October

‘We’ve got to kick some ass and we’ve got to do it quickly.’ A line from The Apprentice perhaps? Err, no. Try the chairman of Ferrari…

This is the new chairman of course, that man in the Marks & Spencer jumper Sergio Marchionne, and not the always impeccably turned-out Luca di Montezemolo who, as if the whole world doesn’t know by now, has been shown the door.

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Of all the coverage of the teary handover of the Prancing Horse’s reins, Autocar’s this week strikes us as the most instructive. It’s ‘a near verbatim’ transcript of a Q and A session with Marchionne on the future of Ferrari. So answers here of major importance to all who love cars and motor racing. He doesn’t disappoint.

On the F1 team’s lack of recent success: ‘A non-winning Ferrari on a Formula 1 track is not Ferrari.  I can live with periods of bad luck but it cannot become a structural element of the brand. We’ve got to kick some ass and we’ve got to do it quickly….it takes what it takes. We might screw up, but we’ve got nothing to lose, right? Let’s risk something.’

On press speculation that Ferrari wants to emulate Lamborghini: ‘Gibberish…even if we tried desperately I don’t think we could.’

On the suggestion that Ferrari will be raising its production volume (currently 7000 a year): ‘For me to tell you today that we are going to sell 10,000 cars is nonsense.’ He goes on to say however: ‘We have an obligation not to choke supply…if you wait 24 months for a Ferrari you‘ve waited too long.. that’s crazy…we are in business to sell cars to people…we’ve got to make product available.’

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Hear hear! Ferraris for everyone please. We’ll have a  458 Speciale thankyouverymuch. That car also features in Autocar this week –  as best driver’s car for 2014 after a 12-car handling shoot-out at Castle Combe.

The Speciale just pipped the Ariel Atom 3.5R for top honours, with the rest of the top six places being made up of Porsches 911 GT3 and Cayman GTS, McLaren 650S and Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. The back half of the grid comprised Renault Megane RS 275 Trophy (like the one we have just tested up the hill, video here), BMW i8, BMW M4, Vauxhall VXR8 GTS, Jag F-type and Alfa 4C.

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Sergio can’t move too fast in making our Speciale, for already it seems this naturally-aspirated gem is in danger of becoming a bit of a dinosaur. Lead news story this week is about how the turbocharged winds of change will finally catch up with the 458 in a reskinned new model to make its debut, says Autocar, at next March’s Geneva motor show.

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Speculation centres on a twin turbo sub 4.0-litre V8 with more than 650bhp and 550lb ft or torque. But will it sound as good? Get one of the last of the n/a 458s quick we reckon – before they really do become n/a.

GRR Read Test verdict

 No one does a handling test like Autocar

 

 

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