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Despite the Fires, Ferrari 458 Is Auto Express 'Performance Car of the Year'

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On: Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 5:34PM | By: Chris Weiss

Despite the Fires, Ferrari 458 Is Auto Express 'Performance Car of the Year'

I don't know about you, but I'd consider one of the cornerstones of a "performance car" to be its ability to not catch fire when simply driving down the road. And if that car was, say, a 570-hp V8-driven supercar, I'd guess that it probably shouldn't catch fire even if you drive fast in hot weather. So if I was going to be judging a competition to decide the "performance car of the year," I'd probably use the penchant for fiery, car-leveling infernos as a quick elimination tool to narrow the pool.

Apparently, the folks over at Auto Express view it a little differently. They looked right past the well-publicized fire issue that Ferrari itself copped to just two months ago, and named the 458 Italia its "Performance Car of the Year." I'd love to know what kind of high-grade green the folks in Maranello shipped over to the U.K. to help grease the wheels toward that conclusion.

Despite the Ferrari 458 recall for burning wheel arch glue—a problem that's caused at least five 458s to burn to the ground—the 458 took on an eclectic crowd that included the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, Honda CR-Z, Bentley Continental Supersports, Lotus Elise, Aston Martin Rapide, Seat Leon Cupra R, Audi RS5, and Mercedes SLS AMG, and came out victorious. Right behind the fiery 458 were the Audi R8 V10 Spyder, Mercedes SLS AMG, Peugeot RCZ Coupe, and BMW M3 Competition.

Auto Express explains what's sure to be a controversial choice (at least, this is what I got out of the thick-accented narrator): "The Ferrari 458 Italia. Here is a supercar which ticks absolutely every box" (maybe spontaneous combustion was a box?), the narrator begins. "For starters, the stunning looks tug on your heart strings in a way that no other Ferrari has done so for years. Then there's the engine. It's just immense. A 4.5-liter V8 with 562 bhp and the thrust of an Apollo space rocket."

Sure, those are compelling arguments. But what good are looks after they've been maimed by fire. And what good is that huge engine, if when pushed to the limit, it burns up the entire rear end? Even stranger was a later claim that the 458 is a "great value for the money—sure if it actually lasts you more than two months.

Fire issue aside, the 458 is a venerable competitor. It undoubtedly exemplified the combination of "pace, fun and value for money" that Auto Express was looking for for a unanimous #1 vote. The coupe hits 60 mph in 3.3 seconds and tops out at 202 mph.

You can watch a full video on Auto Express' testing to see why the competition was unable to capitalize on Ferrari's fire woes.

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