4.5-litre, 570-hp V8
7-speed, dual-clutch automatic and torque vectoring differential
3.4 seconds to 62 mph (100 km/h) speed
Top speed of 198.8 mph (320 km/h)
Price? Well, if you have to ask…
We all knew it was coming—partly because rumours of it have surfaced on the web as often as gas prices rise, and partly because for as long as is significant, Ferrari has always released “Spider” (read: convertible) versions of their mid-engined supercars a year or so after their fixed-top brethren.
For the first time in a mid-engined supercar, the 458 features a power-folding aluminum hardtop that can deploy or stow in in14 seconds, without compromising too much of the interior cabin space. Ferrari is saying that a rear bench behind the seats will still be available for luggage storage even with the top stowed.
And, let’s be honest, there’s a good chance that for most who are lucky enough to own one of these, they will be driving with the top down. Because they have a Mercedes or Bentley if they need a roof.
The engine is the same 562 horsepower V8 found in its Italia (read: coupé) cousin. Ferrari is claiming it to be good for a 0-100 kilometer per hour sprint of 3.4 seconds, which is about .2 seconds off of the Italia and .7 seconds faster than Ferrari’s last mid-engined Spider, the F430.
As far as body rigidity goes—always a problem in the drop-top world—the chassis of both the Italia and Spider have been reinforced with aluminum alloys so it won’t be as much of an issue.
Interior can me customized through either Ferrari's Carozzeria Scaglietti program, or all-new Taylor-Made program
Style-wise, we think that this is one of the sharpest Ferraris to date. The Italia was already a razor-sharp design exercise, and the Spider adds to this with a number of features. Most obvious are the “flying buttresses” behind the occupants’ heads, with a large valley between them that gives the already low car an even more “crouched” look.
The “flying buttresses” culminate in aerodynamic ducts just for of the rear lights—there’s no need for a large rear glass panel as there is in the Italia, so the Spider gets an aerodynamic boost to help compensate for any extra drag incurred by the open top. Air will be able to rush over the buttresses and down though air ducts to form a rear spoiler and help suction the car to the tarmac.
Actually, considering how good the car looks with the top up, owners maybe be raising in more often than they would have other convertibles. The look—from the front three-quarter angle, at least—looks almost exactly like the Italia, which is a wonderful design in itself. Rare is it to see a convertible whose silhouette hardly suffers due to the need to find space to stow a top.
Hooray for More V-8 Wail
Besides shaving the 458’s head, Ferrari altered the car’s throttle mapping, suspension tuning, and “engine soundtrack” specifically for topless motoring. The task of dialing in the sound of the 458’s tightly wound 4.5-liter V-8 for droptop duty seems to us like a two-step process. Step one: Remove roof. Step two: Rev engine. Regardless, the Spider’s soundtrack should be hugely satisfying, produced as it is by the same sonorous 562-hp engine as is used in the 458 Italia. That power is routed through the same seven-speed dual-clutch automatic as is used in the coupe to the same torque-vectoring differential.
The 458 Spider also inherits the coupe’s F1-Trac traction-control and performance anti-lock-brake system. Ferrari claims the Spider will run to 62 mph from a standstill in less than 3.5 seconds before romping on to a top speed in excess of 198 mph. In a recent comparison test, we kicked a 458 Italia to 60 mph in just 3.0 seconds, so the Spider’s figure is probably a bit conservative.
Now You See Me, Now You Don’t
Put to rest any doubt as to the style of folding roof the 458 Spider will use. The car’s mid-engine layout makes a folding roof of any kind difficult to integrate, and after seeing the leaked photos of the car we guessed that only a relatively space-efficient soft top would fit beneath its low-slung tonneau cover. Ferrari, however, cleverly adapted its rotating-roof concept from the 575-based Superamerica to the 458 Spider.
The 458 Spider’s roof is a bit more complicated than the Superamerica’s rotating lid, and it hides under a double-hump rear deck when stowed (the Superamerica’s roof laid itself on top of the rear deck). Ferrari claims this solution is 55 pounds lighter than a soft top and takes up less space. The roof can fold itself down into a space ahead of the engine bay in 14 seconds, and the independently operable rear window doubles as a wind blocker. Ferrari believes the rear window to be so effective that occupants can converse normally at speeds above 124 mph. The roof mechanism is compact enough that Ferrari was able to keep a parcel shelf behind the rear seats.
To help combat flex, Ferrari did beef up the 458’s chassis to ensure structural rigidity top up or down, but isn’t sharing exactly what it strengthened. The company does, however, claim that the Spider will only outweigh the fixed-roof 458 by about 100 pounds.