Debuting last year as a replacement for the outgoing F360, the 2006 Ferrari F430 sees no changes for its second year in production.
There's always been much more to Ferraris than just performance. Styling, presence and exclusivity all play a part in a Ferrari's allure. Since the '70s-era 308 on up, Ferrari's line of midengine V8-powered sports cars has provided the most "affordable" way to access this Ferrari mystique. Some of these cars have been more successful than others. When Ferrari introduced its 360 Modena in 1999, it offered a level of performance that few cars could match, either on paper or when experienced from behind the wheel. But more recent years have ushered in new competition, including the Ford GT and Lamborghini Gallardo.
Ferrari's response is the F430, which effectively addresses the 360's weaknesses while simultaneously enhancing its strengths. The car's basic shape is similar to the 360's but is edgier and takes on many design cues from the Enzo supercar. Thanks to an aluminum space frame draped with aluminum body panels, the F430 weighs in at a relatively svelte 3,200 pounds. The body structure itself is more resistant to bending than before and is said to be more crashworthy. The heart of the F430's improvements, however, lies within (appropriately for a midengine vehicle) its drivetrain. For all to see underneath a clear rear hatch is an all-new 90-degree V8 that uses 11.3:1 compression, five main bearings, a flat-plane crank, a dry oil sump and four valves per cylinder. Displacing 4.3 liters, the F430's V8 makes 483 horsepower and a torque peak of 343 pound-feet. Accompanying the engine update is a newer version of the "F1" sequential-shift manual transmission. It now shifts smoother in everyday driving situations while still allowing super-quick upshifts and perfect rev-matched downshifts at the pull of a paddle.
Given that the F430's price can easily march into the $200,000 range, it's going to be hard for many people to consider this Ferrari as "entry-level." Even for the well-heeled, the F430 might seem like a lot considering that the Ford GT undercuts it by about $40,000. But there is no denying that the Ferrari F430 is an exceptional sports car by every measure. In terms of performance it has but a handful of equals and even fewer superiors. It will never be mistaken for anything else other than a Ferrari and will no doubt bring satisfying ownership to the lucky few able to afford one.
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Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Ferrari F430 sports car is available as a coupe or as a Spider convertible. Most modern convenience features -- including bi-HID headlights, keyless entry, auto-dimming mirrors, automatic dual-zone climate control, full power accessories, power seats and MP3-capable audio -- come standard. The F430's standard 19-inch wheels are shod with 225/35ZR19 tires in front and 285/35ZR19 tires in the rear. Being a Ferrari, the F430 can also be customized through a long list of hardware and style-oriented options. Popular selections include Challenge Stradale wheels, race-oriented carbon-ceramic brakes, leather-trimmed racing seats, upgraded audio, carbon-fiber interior trim, a navigation system, fitted luggage and special exterior paint and interior leather upholstery colors.
Powertrains and Performance
The Ferrari F430 derives its power from a midmounted, 4.3-liter V8 engine. It's rated at 483 horsepower at 8,500 rpm and 343 lb-ft of torque at 5,250 rpm. Power is sent to the rear wheels through either a traditional six-speed manual transmission or Ferrari's F1-style system. The F1 is an electrohydraulic transmission controlled by paddle shifters mounted behind the steering wheel. The F430 also has an electronically controlled rear differential -- named "E-diff" -- that helps to improve acceleration and vehicle balance when handling. Throttle pinned, the F430 can hit 60 mph in less than 4.5 seconds and top out just shy of 200 mph.
Besides government-mandated equipment, the F430 comes standard with antilock brakes, traction control and stability control. Drivers of the F430 can incrementally adjust the amount of intervention applied by the traction and stability control systems through the manettino control mounted on the steering wheel.
Interior Design and Special Features
Ferrari interior design has come a long way in recent years and the F430's cockpit is relatively comfortable for almost all drivers. The Spider's top is fully automatic and can be lowered in about 20 seconds. The top's rear window is made of plastic, however, which detracts from the car's overall premium status.
The F430 is a true exotic. When one "blasts" up to 50 mph it's almost as heart-stopping and attention-grabbing as a shuttle launch. The V8's 483 horsepower creates a shrieking exhaust wail that could be considered highly offensive -- if it wasn't so impressively melodic. Passing slower traffic, even without their cooperation, is a no-brainer with the ultraresponsive F1 transmission. Through the steering and suspension, the F430 superbly connects the driver to the road. This is one of the top cars available for maximum driving thrills.
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