In the run-up to the official unveiling of the Ferrari 458 Italia at the Frankfurt Auto Show on the 15 September, more information has been released about its interior, the steering wheel and instrument binnacle which represent a significant step forward in the concept of the ergonomic interface between driver and car.
In fact, the main commands are now grouped on the steering wheel, the secondary commands are set in two satellite pods either side of the dash and there are now comprehensive instrument displays on the panel ahead of the driver. These solutions represent an important safety aspect, enabling the driver to concentrate fully on driving. Similarly this layout ensures maximum control of the car in high performance driving, an uncompromising approach that derives directly from Ferrari's F1 experience.
Working closely with the Ferrari Styling Centre, the engineers have thus reinterpreted the position of the major commands to provide a driver-oriented cockpit. All steering-column mounted stalks have been eliminated, with the indicators, full beam, flash and windscreen wiper functions now being activated by buttons on the steering wheel boss. The button to select the shock absorber setting is now positioned next to the `Engine start' button. Behind the wheel are a number of secondary functions, such as the stereo, while the transmission paddles are now longer, making shifts easier from any steering angle.
The right-hand satellite pod on the dash incorporates controls for the infotainment, the Bluetooth connection, sat-nav, digital speedo and rear parking camera. Clustered on the left-hand satellite pod instead are the optional cruise control, buttons for choosing the video setting of the left-hand dash TFT screen and the on-board computer interface. The latter controls the trip computer, the Vehicle Dynamic Assistance and the display of the car's set-up.
The Vehicle Dynamic Assistance monitors the operating parameters of the most important areas of the car - engine/transmission, tires and brakes. The VDA is enabled in the following manettino settings - Race, CT off and CST off - and provides visual confirmation of the status of each component based on an algorithm from parameters reading lateral and longitudinal acceleration, revs and speed. This enables the driver to assess the ideal operating conditions for the car. There are three status settings: WARM-UP (operating temperature too low), GO (ideal operating conditions) and OVER (one or more components are no longer at their optimum level and need cooling).