Ferrari has taken the roof off of its latest performance machine and we got up close and personal with it. What’s special about the Ferrari 488 Spider?
Your R5.5-million gets you one serious performance machine, replete with one of the best views in town. The 488 Spider is powered by the same motor as its coupe sibling: a twin-turbocharged 3.9-litre V8 that produces a massive 492 kW and a meaty 760 Nm of torque.
Turbocharged motor provides all the thrills
Ferrari's previous foray into turbocharging produced the legendary F40 supercar, but, the Maranello-based firm's return to forced induction was not prompted by the pursuit of ultimate outputs (as it may have been in the '80s), but to produce more powerful motors that adhere to ever stricter emission laws. Ferrari has already played in the hybrid KERS space, but that technology is not cheap as indicated by the price of the Ferrari LaFerrari. Turbochargers are the next best thing, which led to the introduction of the California T, the 488 GTB and now, the the 488 Spider.
What does this mean in the real world? The Ferrari 488 Spider is claimed to hurtle from zero to 100 kph in 3 seconds dead, will smash 200 kph in 8.7 seconds and if the road is long enough, will max out at well over 300 kph. To put that in perspective, by the time your family crossover has reached 100 kph, this Ferrari will be a long way down the road with its speedometer reading well over 200 kph!
The utilisation of a turbo – or turbos – has often been accused of dulling the soulful sound of an otherwise sonorous engine, but this is not the case with the 488 Spider. Thanks to the combination of the V8's flat-plane crankshaft and innovative exhaust plumbing, the Ferrari sounds as evocative as any of its siblings. While we didn’t get to drive the car, Scuderia SA duly obliged with some engine revs, which put a smile on everyone's faces.
Clever, but lightweight roof
Engine aside, there’s some neat technology that underpins the roof mechanism. In a traditional convertible the roof folds into the boot, but because the Spider is a mid-engined supercar, its compact and light retractable hard top (RHT) folds neatly into the storage area behind the fairings. And, unlike some convertibles whose designs become a bit odd with the roof open, this Ferrari looks equally good top up or down. Ferrari says the RHT can be opened and closed in 14 seconds and Ferrari claim that the roof can be deployed or retracted when the car is moving.
Rivals for the Ferrari 488 Spider
While you may snort: “who on earth can afford that?” at the lofty price tag (R5.5 million), bear in mind that 30 people have already signed up to take delivery Maranello’s latest topless offering from Scuderia South Africa. There are a few rivals that go head-to-head with the Ferrari 488 Spider... British carmaker McLaren can offer you a 650S Spider for similar money and performance. You can also bag a topless version of Lamborghini’s Huracan. Finally, if you wait a bit, a convertible Audi R8 will land in South Africa in 2017.