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Who'd Ferrari Pay Off? 458 Italia Wins 'Performance Car of the Year'

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On: Thu, Apr 28, 2011 at 12:09PM | By: Chris Weiss

Who'd Ferrari Pay Off? 458 Italia Wins 'Performance Car of the Year'

You know when the Ferrari 458 was named Automobile's 'Performance Car of the Year' I thought: "The editor of Automobile must have a classic Ferrari sitting in a hidden garage somewhere." Paying off a single magazine, while unethical, really wouldn't be that hard. But paying off a panel of journalists from around the world? Now that seems a little more complicated. How'd Maranello get that done?

It's not that the Ferrari 458 Italia is a bad car—it's a beautiful, hard-charging car. It's just that with months' worth of headlines on the car's tendency to—you know, catch fire—you'd have thunk that the auto journalists that wrote those headlines might have chosen a worthy competitor that didn't have a history of bursting into a ball of fiery destruction.

Nevertheless, the 458 seemed to beat the other two finalists—the Mercedes AMG SLS and the Porsche 911 Turbo—with ease. The car was selected by a panel of 66 automotive journalists from 24 different countries.

In a statement, the voting panel explained its decision: "“The replacement for the F430 Fiorano has been voted by nearly every possible ranking [save perhaps for the 'not catching fire' ranking] this past year as the best performer hands down. The WCA's would love to break ranks with the crowd, but we also put the 458 Italia squarely among our top three world performance cars. Whether on the track or on a loosely policed winding two-lane mountain road, the technology on board the 458 sets it and its 570 metric horsepower far ahead of most every other V8-powered street car. This is a classic modern Ferrari in every sense, but its sophisticated handling abilities at the limit take it to a whole new level for Italian super GTs. And what a beautiful sound."

So I guess that's that.

While the Ferrari 458 has been a rousing success in terms of on-road and track performance, it suffered a serious image hit last spring and summer when around half a dozen different 458 models around the world burst into flames. In September, Ferrari issued a recall on the model to address an issue with the adhesive used to attach a heat shield near the rear wheels. The adhesive was found to be the spark of the fires.

Last year, the Audi R8 V10 picked up the award, and the year before it went to the Nissan GT-R.


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