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Ferrari 458 Speciale is a prancing horse with more attitude – and power

Improving the Ferrari 458 Italia is akin to improving on perfection, but that hasn’t stopped Maranello from trying. Ferrari has unveiled the 458 Speciale, a hardcore version of its already stellar entry-level supercar.

As with previous Ferrari performance specials, such as the 360 Challenge Stradale and 430 Scuderia, the 458 Speciale differentiates itself from lesser cars with less weight and more tech.

The 458’s 4.5-liter V8 has been massaged to produce 597 horsepower at an absurd 9,000 rpm and 398 pound-feet of torque at 6,000 rpm. The stock 458 has 562 hp and the same 398 lb-ft. Still, the 458 Speciale is the most powerful naturally-aspirated V8 Ferrari road car ever made.

The Speciale has gone a diet and dry curb weight is now 2,843 pounds; down from 3,274 pounds. That will make the it much more lively.

Ferrari says the Speciale will do 0 to 62 mph in 3.0 seconds and 0 to 124 mph in 9.1 seconds. It also clocked a 1:23.5 second lap around Ferrari’s Fiorano test track, beating a stock 458 by 1.5 seconds.

The 458 Speciale also features a few aerodynamic tweaks. Front and rear movable flaps help balance downforce and drag, keeping the car slippery while allowing for maximum grip. The add-ons also visually link the Speciale to Ferrari’s flagship LaFerrari hybrid.

There’s also a side-slip angle control system that monitors the car’s speed, grip, and other parameters to allow for a bit of sideways action without sending the driver headlong into a tree. To keep things under control, the system modulates engine power and brakes individual wheels.

It may seem like yet another electronic aid meant to turn driving into a videogame, but slip angle control just might save a few Ferrari drivers who have more money than driving talent.

Why build a hardcore version of the 458? Ferrari knows it has customers that care more about performance than posing. The Speciale isn’t concerned with luxury or daily drivability; it’s more elemental.

The Ferrari 458 Speciale will make its first public appearance at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show in September, and will go on sale sometime after that. If you’re idea of Sunday driving involves a helmet and fire suit, this might be the car for you.

What do you think of the Ferrari 458 Speciale?  Are you going to buy a couple of them? Tell us in the comments.