Ferrari 488 Spider

All the goodness of the GTB in a drop-top body

TOBY HAGON

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

YOU may not want to know how good the Spider version of the Ferrari 488 is. Because, on the off chance you’ve stumbled on $526,888 – $57,000 more than the 488 GTB – you’ll still have to join a queue that stretches almost two years before you hand over your money. Like the GTB, the Spider has more people desperate to own one than Ferrari is willing to produce.

Key to its appeal is a hurricane in your hair while being able to blast to 100km/h in 3.0sec (exactly the same time as the GTB, despite carrying an extra 50kg or so).

The roof, a carryover of the 458 Spider’s ‘Retractable Hard Top’, is the highlight. Press a button and the cover for the rollover hoops rises, allowing the two-piece folding roof to be fully concealed once the rear panel lowers back to its original location. The whole operation takes 14 seconds and can be performed at up to 45km/h.

The challenge is keeping the Spider below that speed. The 3.9-litre V8 hammers out 760Nm from 3000rpm, but at any engine speed there’s a rush of torque waiting. It’s a beautifully flexible engine virtually devoid of turbo lag, making it fast in almost any gear. Spin the engine close to its 8000rpm redline – at which point it’s punching out 492kW – and acceleration is brutal.

There’s the occasional lowspeed clunk from the 488’s seven-speed dual-clutch ’box, but it’s otherwise a model of slick, well-timed shifts that adds to the extraordinary acceleration. The only criticism is that the force-fed V8 is a tad polite, lacking the highrev shriek that has characterised Ferraris for decades.

Sans roof, the Spider lets a satisfying bluster into the compact cabin. Windows up reduces the blast, while that rear window extends an inch or so to act as a mediocre wind deflector.

The suspension is firm but doesn’t jar, and the 20-inch Pirelli P Zeros ensure it points superbly, hunkering down brilliantly in flowing bends. Select the ‘Bumpy Road’ shock absorber mode and that firmness melts into more satisfying compliance, also lessening the mild scuttle-shake; body rigidity is generally brilliant.

Rear vision isn’t so great, which makes the decision to put a reversing camera on the options list strange. Standard kit includes keyless entry, carbon-ceramic brakes and dual-zone air-con.

The 488 Spider has its foibles – the ventilation fan is noisy when cranked up; the audio sounds tinny and can only be controlled by the driver; road noise is prevalent on coarse bitumen – but they’re easily overlooked when you squeeze the throttle or aim at a corner. It’s a sublime driver’s car and properly quick. Little wonder there’s such a long queue. lli

PLUS & MINUS

The queue; exhaust sound muted for a Ferrari; crazy options prices Phenomenal engine; superb grip and balance; one-touch folding roof Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Ferrari 488 Spider 3902cc V8 (90°), dohc, 32v, twin-turbo 492kW @ 8000rpm 760Nm @ 3000-6750rpm 7-speed dual-clutch 1525kg 3.0sec (claimed) 11.4L/100km (EU) $526,888 Now

The price of privilege

Ferrari says the average Aussie buyer splashes another $65K on extras, of which there’s no shortage.

A reversing camera costs $4990 and Apple CarPlay (increasingly standard on mainstream cars) adds $6790. The Blu Corsa hero colour is another $22,000, or you can have the Prancing Horse embroidered into the headrest for $2100.

And you can replace the standard heated electric seats with manually adjusted carbonfibre buckets… for $15,000. At least you get seven years of servicing for nix.