Recently I was a guest of Ferrari at their HQ in Maranello as part of the Shell Network of Champions. As part of the experience I got to drive a 458 Italia round their Fiorano test track. A lot. Unlike my fellow Brit, Sam Burnett, I didn’t collect half the traffic cones and have a dozen technicians standing around the car tutting.
Most of the time I drive a more sensible family car, a 53 plate Vauxhall Zafira in old person burgundy. What better way to judge Ferrari’s latest and greatest then, with a head to head road test? I have been instructed to add that the Zafira (unlike the Ferrari) is actually my wifes car and that she very kindly allows me to chauffeur drive her around at the weekends.
I recently worked out if I put £1 away a day, it would take me just slightly in excess of 400 years to save the necessary funds to buy a Ferrari 458. In contrast, our second hand Zafira cost a shade under £4,000 with 34,000 miles on the clock. Running costs aren’t too bad for the Zafira, it gets 40mpg, and at current prices, the last fill up with Shell V-Power cost me £65. The Ferrari on the other hand gets a shade over 20 miles to the gallon, so if you drive it hard, you’ll have to plan your route via filling stations.
I couldn’t get a quote on the car insurance from Admiral for the Ferrari since their website kept on returning an unexpected error but I expect it would have given me the same sort of excellent value for money that we get with our Zafira, so on the insurance front I’ll call it a draw.
The Ferrari can make it around any corner on any racing track in the world without a full turn of the steering wheel. I’ve got size twelve feet and I have shoes that are smaller than the Ferrari’s brakes. My wellies are also smaller. The feedback through the steering wheel is astonishing considering the considerable number of driving aids available too, you get a really tactile sense of the road and how the car is thinking with it’s clever little computer brain. In fact when you have all the traction aids on, it’s nearly impossible to spin the 458 in the wet. I should know, I was on the skid pan for half an hour trying.
The Zafira also has power steering and anti lock brakes. It certainly handles speed bumps better than the the Ferrari in as much as it can make it over them. Do satnav’s come programmed with the ability to pick routes that don’t have speed bumps? If they don’t, then there’s a marketing opportunity. I’m fairly sure the Zafira wont go round hairpins at 50mph like the Ferrari does thanks to its high centre of gravity, but it is a bit like driving a comfy sofa on the motorways. In fact my conviction is such, that I’ve decided not to try the high speed corning in the Zafira. If I turn, the car turns and it hasn’t so far ended up on its roof. This is a good thing.
The Ferrari has enough room for two adults to travel in comfort. I’m 6ft 4 and was completely comfortable behind the wheel. The boot is full of engine, a 4.5 litre 562BHP monster. Fortunately there is plenty of luggage space under the bonnet to fit your small holdall or a couple of carrier bags. Because the Ferrari does 0-60mph in 3.4 seconds, it can get you up to the speed limit about ten seconds faster than the Zafira, meaning you’ll get to your destination ten seconds quicker. In the scheme of things, a lot of ten seconds mount up and you’ll soon find yourself with an awful lot of spare time.
What the Zafira does well is transport your family, and with it’s Flex-7 seating system, the boot can convert into an extra row of seats without too much aggravation, albeit at the sacrifice of boot space. You can transport three and a half times as many people as the Ferrari can, so for moving large groups of people its actually quicker- you only have to make the trip once.
So all in all for a family, the Zafira just about edges the Ferrari out. If you’re off to the cinema with your kids, you’ll have trouble getting there in the Ferrari and might as well take the bus. The Ferrari excels as a second car though and you’ll guarantee your son will be the most popular kid at school if you turn up to pick him up in a Ferrari 458. If you don’t have a son, your daughter will soon acquire a boyfriend.
Best thing is though, if you do decide to own both (and live in a shed), you wont get confused when it comes to filling them up- Shell V-Power Unleaded in the pair of them. Shell develop their F1 fuels with Ferrari and the Shell V-Power you can buy at the pump is the same Shell V-Power that is dispensed from the 3 Shell Filling stations at the Ferrari factory. Every Ferrari leaves the factory with a tank of V-Power. If it’s good enough for a 562BHP 4.5 litre engine, it will do my humble Zafira.