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With lightning fast shifts, the Fiat 500 Abarth automatic is not your typical slushbox automatic

Fiat 500X Earns Highest Safety Award

The Fiat 500X has the highest possible IIHS safety rating in its class

Driving the New Fiat 124 Spider and Abarth!

A look at how the new Fiat 124 Spider stacks up against the original

Fiat 500L Design

Within its compact dimensions, the Fiat 500L has the room of a full-sized car. See how Fiat did it and the concept and goals of the design team

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Debut

Watch the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Debut Video at the LA Autoshow

Fiat 500 Abarth Oil Change

Everything you need to know about changing the oil on a Fiat 500 Abarth and 500 Turbo


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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fiat Technology: The Ferrari 458 Italia

Ferrari 458 Italia

Many people think of Fiat as just an economy car maker. The truth is Fiat is a multi-faceted company with core businesses that focus on the automotive industry. The Fiat Group is made up of nine companies. One of them is the the legendary Ferrari company.

Ferrari has been owned by Fiat for the past 40 years. During this time there has been a wide range of cars produced by the Maranello based firm. Each one has been unique, beautiful and a technical masterpiece. However, with the new 458 Italia, Ferrari has pushed the limits of technology and passion. This automotive tour de force in design and engineering has been given the name Italia to honor the classic Italian tradition of advanced design and engineering.

These achievements, which have spanned centuries, make up the Italian DNA and are what fuel Ferrari and Fiat to produce their award winning designs.

People may pose the question of what Ferrari cars have to do with Fiat cars, but anyone who knows the history of the Fiat company knows the links the two companies have. For example, Aurelio Lampredi, the famed Ferrari engine designer of the 1950's (who designed many Ferrari racing engines), went on to Fiat and designed a slew of Fiat engines. These engines include the original Fiat 500's 2 cylinder engine as well as the legendary Fiat Twin Cam engine (the first affordable Twin Cam engine and the prototype for all belt driven twin cam engines used today).

The World Champion Fiat 131 Abarth. Lampredi engined cars have enabled Fiat to win a record 13 World Rally Championships. For the record that's: 1974,75,76,77,78,1980,83,87,88,89,1990,91,92.

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, President of Ferrari and Chairman of Fiat

Although Ferrari is said to be run autonomously in the Fiat empire (the President of Ferrari, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo is also the Chairman of Fiat), technology is shared between the companies.

Paddle shifter used in the Abarth 695 "Tributo Ferrari"

For example, the Dualogic/MTA (Manual Transmission Automated) gearbox technology is derived directly from the Ferrari 355 F1 system.

Fiat 500 Abarth engine

Also, engineer Paolo Martinelli, head of Scuderia Ferrari's Engine Department from 1994 to 2006 (who was responsible for developing the Ferrari V10 Formula One engines that won 6 constructor championships) and currently head of the Petrol Engine Development division at Fiat Powertrain Technology , oversaw the making of the 1.4L 16V Turbo engine used in the new Fiat 500 Abarth.

Abarth 695 "Tributo Ferrari"

And, of course, The Abarth 695 "Tributo Ferrari", a collaboration between Abarth and Ferrari, resulting in an increase in horsepower from the standard Abarth's 135hp to the Tributo's 180hp.

With this, we can see the link between Fiat and Ferrari will be a good thing for American car enthusiasts.

Below is an overview and videos of the Ferrari 458 Italia for you to enjoy. Clearly Italian DNA has served Ferrari very well!

ITALIA - Ferrari’s innovative new V8

The 458 Italia, the latest incarnation of the mid-rear engined berlinetta
was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show during September, 2009. While it’s true that every Ferrari is innovative by definition, it’s equally true that in the course of the Prancing Horse’s history, certain cars have marked a genuine departure from the current range. This is very much the case with the Ferrari 458 Italia, which is a massive leap forward from the company’s previous mid engined sports cars.

The new model is a synthesis of style, creative flair, passion and cutting-edge technology, characteristics for which Italy as a nation is well-known. For this reason Ferrari chose to add the name of its homeland to the traditional figure representing the displacement and number of cylinders.

The Ferrari 458 Italia is a completely new car from every point of view: engine, design, aerodynamics, handling, instrumentation and ergonomics, just to name a few.

A two-seater berlinetta, the Ferrari 458 Italia, as is now traditional for all Ferrari’s road going cars, benefits hugely from the company’s Formula 1 experience. This is particularly evident in the speed and precision with which the car responds to driver inputs and in the attention focused on reducing internal friction in the engine for lower fuel consumption than the F430, despite the fact that both overall displacement and power have increased. However, Ferrari’s track experience makes its presence felt in the 458 Italia not only in terms of pure technological transfer but also on a more emotional level, because of the strong emphasis on creating an almost symbiotic relationship between driver and car. The 458 Italia features an innovative driving environment with a new kind of steering wheel and dashboard that is the direct result of racing practice. Once again input from Michael Schumacher - who was involved from the very start of the 458 Italia project - played an invaluable part.

The Ferrari 458 Italia’s Pininfarina design provides further evidence of the complete
departure from the past that this new car hails. The Ferrari 458 Italia has a compact, aerodynamic shape, underscoring the concepts of simplicity, efficiency and lightness that inspired the project. As with every Ferrari, the car’s styling has been very heavily influenced by the requirements for aerodynamic efficiency, as can be seen from the downforce of 140 kg at 200km/h generated by the new model. The front features a single opening for the front grille and side air intakes, with aerodynamic sections and profiles designed to direct air to the coolant radiators and the new flat underbody. The nose also sports small aeroelastic winglets which generate down force and, as speed rises, deform to reduce the section of the radiator inlets and cut drag.

The new 4499 cc V8 is the first Ferrari direct injection engine to be mid-rear mounted. It has a very low piston compression height typical of racing engines which contributed to achieving its compression ratio of 12.5:1. Equipped with the traditional flat-plane crankshaft, the engine delivers 570 CV at 9000 rpm and, with an outstanding power output of 127 CV/liter, sets a new benchmark not only for the whole Ferrari range and the history of company, but also for the entire market segment. Maximum torque is 540 Nm at 6000 rpm, over 80 per cent of which is available from 3250 rpm. Specific torque is a record 120 Nm/liter. However, what is truly extraordinary is the amount of torque available while still maintaining high levels of power at low revs.

The car’s soundtrack is also typical Ferrari, with an exciting, powerful growl emerging from the engine before it channels through to the exhaust’s three rear tailpipes.

The 458 Italia is equipped with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission which increases performance whilst providing very smooth shifts even at full throttle. The engineers have developed specific, sportier gear ratios to match the power and torque curves of the new V8, guaranteeing high torque even at lower engine speeds and allowing the car to reach its maximum speed in top gear.

This new Ferrari is also a major leap forward when it comes to cutting emissions. Despite the fact that the new engine is significantly more powerful than the V8s that preceded it, the Ferrari 458 Italia produces just 320 g/km of CO2 and fuel consumption is 13.7 l/100 km (combined cycle), the best in the entire segment.

The engineers also focused on weight reduction during the design phase for similar reasons. Consequently, the Ferrari 458 Italia has a dry weight of 1380 kg with a power to-weight ratio of 2.42 kg/CV. Weight distribution is also optimal with 58 per cent over the rear axle. The result of the engineers’ endeavors can be summed up in to two simple statistics which together perfectly encapsulate the Ferrari 458 Italia’s exceptional performance: 0-100 km/h acceleration in under 3.4 seconds and a maximum speed in excess of 325 km/h.

For the new chassis, once more in aluminum, Maranello’s engineers incorporated various types of advanced alloys along with aerospace industry-derived manufacturing and bonding techniques.

With regard to vehicle dynamics, the Ferrari 458 Italia’s suspension features twin wishbones at the front and a multi-link set-up at the rear tuned for maximum road holding and superlative handling. Along with a more direct steering ratio, the 458 Italia thus offers extremely rapid turn-in and body control whilst maintaining superior ride comfort.

The integration of the E-Diff and F1-Trac (now controlled by the same ECU) and their respective mappings is even greater, resulting in a 32 per cent increase in longitudinal acceleration out of corners compared to previous models. The evolution of the control logic, with even faster and more accurate calculation of levels of grip, ensures even greater road holding, better handling and ease of control on the limit.

The same ECU also governs the high-performance ABS, providing even more precise control over the logic threshold and greater efficiency. The brakes also feature a prefill function whereby the pistons in the calipers move the pads into contact with the discs on lift off to minimize delay in the brakes being applied. This combined with the ABS has cut the 100-0 km/h braking distance to a mere 32.5 meters.

The Ferrari 458 Italia’s interior is another area of the car that exalts its sporty personality. The driver is welcomed by a new layout and a revolutionary ergonomic interface where the main controls are all clustered on the steering wheel.

With the Ferrari 458 Italia, Maranello has brought a highly distinctive new car to its 8-cylinder range. The company now offers two models that share a common, race derived DNA, both exceptionally sporty and fun to drive in true Ferrari tradition, but aimed at two very different kinds of client. While the Ferrari California was created for owners requiring a more versatile sports car with a practical edge, the 458 Italia is designed for owners for whom the priority is uncompromising on-road performance with occasional track day capability, but who still demand a car that is usable in day-to-day driving like all Ferrari’s recent models.

Ferrari Press Release
Photos used by creative commons license from char1iej's photostream

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