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Road Test: La Passione and the Lamborghini
Ferrari's Modena replacement, the F430, takes on rival Gallardo--which stands as the exotic you'd most want to own?

By Matt Stone
Photography by Gus Gregory
Motor Trend, January 2005

This is about lust. Enzo Ferrari and Ferruccio Lamborghini understood lust--automotive and, allegedly, otherwise. They couldn't have cared less about cupholders, EPA ratings, DVD players, recyclability percentages, or customer clinic results. They just built the cars they wanted to build, cars full of passion and power and seduction. Today, the companies they founded are multimillion-dollar businesses with beancounters, HR departments, and marketing mavens. They're still trading in lust. But is it the real thing, or some cleverly synthesized substitute?

Although Ferrari and Lamborghini have both come to define the Italian supercar, they haven't always met head-on in the marketplace: Not since the Jalpa of the 1980s has Sant'Agata had a car to compete with Maranello's entry-level model. That all changed when Lamborghini launched the Gallardo last year. With its fresh and edgy look, all-wheel drive, and V-10 engine with a 100-plus-horsepower advantage, the Gallardo was aimed squarely at Ferrari's curvaceous and successful 360 Modena.

Ferrari's new F430 should in no way be viewed as a response to the Gallardo; in fact, its specs and design were frozen well prior to the Lambo's appearance in the marketplace. Its basic architecture and central greenhouse are recognizable as those of the 360 Modena. Otherwise, it's a new machine, incorporating five years' worth of customer feedback, technological advances, and design evolution. The engine is an all-new, 4.3-liter, 90-degree V-8 that eschews the Modena's five-valve DOHC layout for more conventional four-valves- (say quattrovalvole) per-cylinder heads and wails out 23 percent more horsepower and 24 percent more torque.

Ferrari would like to have you believe its success in Formula 1 is what drives the F430's makeup, and that's not all bunk. The F1 paddle-shifter transmission is an obvious cue. The F430's optional composite brake rotors (as fitted to our tester), innovative E-Diff electrohydraulically managed rear differential, and steering-wheel-mounted one-touch vehicle setup controller--called the manettino by Ferrari's F1 pilots (see right)--are examples of legitimate ideological technology transfer from racetrack to street. Revised over- and underbody aerodynamics result in higher downforce, lower drag, and reduced wind noise. New 19-inch wheels are standard, as are glinting Bi-Xenon headlights and a host of detail upgrades.

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