The Ferrari 458 Speciale
Sometimes love can be ridiculous and makes no sense whatsoever! When you see the Ferrari 458 Speciale, you feel that kind of giddy love. This is no ordinary Ferrari; it is a super Ferrari which has been built for the purest of driving enthusiasts. Ferrari South Africa cleverly launched this four-wheeled beast in the company of lions. The king of the jungle was a fitting companion for, arguably, the king of the road. Ferrari is one of those iconic brands that, when you hear the roar of that Italian engine, it sends a shiver up your spine. At the launch we were able to experience what the Speciale means to Ferrari and its potential owners. Not since the Superleggera has there been so much chatter about a car out of this Italian stable. Ferrari refined an almost perfect formula to deliver a car that can handle the road as well as it handles the track. They have used their Formula 1 pedigree to produce a super sports car. The Speciale is lighter, stronger and can handle more than previous versions. It can go from standstill to 100km/h in a shade over three seconds, maxing out at well over 300km/h. This Italian goddess will set you back millions, but when love speaks, you hear nothing else.
The Volvo V40
Volvo has come a long way in the last few years with the look of their vehicles. They brand is no longer positioned as a car for ‘old people’. Volvo is now hip, cool and very distinctive, without losing the essence of what made Volvo so popular in the past. They are still exceptionally good to drive, delivering above par performance without making you feel out of control of your vehicle. They also still deliver extremely highly on the safety charts and it is for this reason that we fell in love with the Volvo V40. Anything that takes as much care to protect our family becomes a part of our family. The V40 is not a station wagon like the V70 of the past, but a large, sporty hatch-back. It has been designed with the young, trendy family in mind, offering ample space in the front and rear. The interior design over-delivers on our expectations and we are highly impressed with the modern finishings. The old analogue speedometer has been replaced by a crisp digital one and the entire interior is cutting edge. The boot space is not incredibly generous, but if you really need to, you can pop the rear seats down and maximise your load capacity. The V40 is reasonably priced in the low to mid R300,000s, but when you weigh up what you get for your bucks, your wallet will love the V40 too. It is light on fuel, yet delivers great performance and it handles like a mini sports car. Off the line it won’t win a drag race, but you’re unlikely to be the type to dice at the traffic lights if you’re a Volvo aficionado. Like a lover left in the lurch, we were bereft to return the V40 at the end of our review period.
The Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet
Like Volvo, Mercedes-Benz has really sexed up their cars in the looks department lately. It no longer feels like Mercedes is lagging behind its German counterparts, but rather leading the way, producing good-looking cars that speak to every kind of driver. The E400 Cabriolet is one such car. On our recent test, we couldn’t help but notice how much we got noticed. Men, women, children – passersby of all sorts would turn and have a look. It didn’t matter if we were stopping for fuel, or racing past, you could feel the eyes of the world drawn to you. The E400 has gorgeous lines that take your eyes from front to back and you appreciate the little touches that have gone into making this sleek sedan so eye-catching. The model we tested had all the bells and whistles. It had heated and cooled seats, a superb sound system and an accurate GPS. Being a convertible, the boot is really nothing more than a storage facility for the roof, but if you needed to, there was enough space for the shopping. The E400 is a magnificent car to drive. The suspension is without rival and it offered up probably the smoothest drive imaginable. It handles the bends like a race car and moves like one too. At a shade under a million rand, the E400 Cabriolet is by no means cheap, but the 3.0-litre engine does go from zero to 100km/h in 5.3 seconds, which gets the heart pumping. We loved our time behind the wheel of this convertible and can’t wait to see what comes next from Mercedes-Benz.
Follow Damian Murphy on Twitter at @CarandGameGuru.