Ferrari 458 test mule in Sweden

It may not seem so long ago that Ferrari introduced the 458 Italia. But it's been on the market a solid 5 years since its launch in 2009, which makes it not only the oldest model in the company's lineup, but one of the oldest in its segment, the Lamborghini Huracan and McLaren 650S just having been launched in the past couple of months. So while a solitary Ferrari playing in the snow might otherwise seem like little more than an unlikely place for it to be, its chronology suggests the crew from Maranello could be up to something more.

The white 458 captured by our spy photographers in Northern Sweden appears to have something going on around its wheel arches. Aside from the panel gap that's taped up between the quarter panel and rear fender in front of the rear wheel arch, there appear to be some modifications around the front wheel arch. Just what they're for, we don't know, but their presence suggests something's up.

The test mule pictured here could be simply testing some new components, for whatever application, but if this is indeed a prototype for the 458's replacement, we'll probably start seeing more of these from here on in before the finished product comes around within the next couple of years – by which time the 458 will be a good seven years old, longer than the F430 or 360 Modena before it were on the market.