Convertible supercars are a confusing form of auto perfection. They are often inherently affected by the extra weight of a folding roof, but at the same time they offer an unprecedented level of pleasure thanks to the open-roof motor experience. The Ferrari 488 Spider seems to bring all joy, but strangely lacks the expected compromise.
If you have about $ 500,000 to spend on a car and you’ve always wanted a Ferrari, the 488 is about as good as possible (this specific Spider costs $ 526,888 plus about $ 140K in options).
The question whether it is a coupe or a spider is completely personal. There is a price difference of around $ 60K in favor of the coupe, so if you go for a convertible, it will not only cost you more to start with, but historically you will probably also get less in time for it. Does it really matter? Not if you buy the car for you, because the experience of driving a topless Ferrari is unparalleled.
From the outside, the 488 remains the form factor of the beloved 458, with sharper lines and a more modern front and rear design. It shouts Ferrari on the road as well as in a standstill. You can be sure that it will be mistaken for nothing else. It is in many ways the same car as the 458 below – so bad that the compliance plates still say “458 Italia”.
For reasons that only Ferrari Australia knows, our press car was chosen in a special white exterior (Bianca Avus for $ 19,000) and a black interior. Although it still looked good, we think it would look absolutely beautiful in almost any other color. So much so that we have taken the brand new 488 coupe from a friend in the typical Ferrari Rosso Corsa to show you the difference.
The good thing is that if it can turn as many heads as white, you can imagine what it would do in red or the special Blu Corsa paint that Ferrari has saved exclusively for the Spider?
The first point of the 488 Spider that is worth remembering is that it is not a compromised car. It is definitely no less a driver’s car than the coupé. Of course it carries about 50 kg extra weight compared to the coupé, but somehow it has the same claimed 0-100 km / h time of 3.0 seconds and feels and drives just as well. It is a bit slower from 100-200 km / h, but if that concerns you, you will have bigger problems anyway.
The second point that really surprised us – but probably should not have been afterwards – is the extra sense of emotional attraction at speed compared to the coupé. With the roof folded down (in about 14 seconds and at speeds up to 45 km / h), listening to the Ferrari engine directly behind your ears is a truly unique experience when it sings Rigoletto at full speed.
After the 458’s naturally aspirated V8 was dumped in favor of a 3.9-liter twin-turbo V8 with 492 kW power and 760 Nm of torque (to a ridiculous 73 kW and 220 Nm as a result), the 488 is obviously not that loud or as audibly exciting as its predecessor. Well, that’s what we’ve always said, and it’s still partially true, but when you reach that 8,000 rpm through a winding mountain road – with the sun shining through the trees and it’s just you, the road and your Ferrari – it’s very difficult to describe it as anything but a kind of religious awakening experience … Except here, your messiah’s name was Enzo Ferrari, and he was very real.
The V8 engine in the Ferrari is technically brilliant. There is no delay. That sounds impossible, but seriously, there is no delay that only mortals can detect. It must be purchased and studied by every manufacturer, as it is a modern engineering wonder and shows that Italians are underestimated when it comes to technical finesse. Oh, and it uses fuel – lots of fuel. But that is ok, it will be used well, because every time a Ferrari is about to redline, it is for the improvement of humanity.
Driving the 488 at speed requires a certain amount of attention and focus that is rather burdensome for a normal driver. This is a much more difficult car to drive close to its limits than its Lamborghini or McLaren equivalents. That does not mean that no one can jump in and go fast, because that is possible, but start pushing it hard through the corners and it will give as good as possible. A little controlled upset here or there and corrections from the corner are all part of the experience. This makes it very enjoyable for those who “like to drive” and appreciate the feedback, but if you want a technically more perfect driving experience, buy a McLaren.
You can put all the arguments here about not being able to get the most out of a car like this on public roads, but I would call that complete nonsense. Yes, the 488 – like almost any modern supercar – can go much faster than legally allowed, but owning a Ferrari is just as much about the experience of being stuck in one in traffic, but also about driving flat down a mountainous road or on a circuit. Come to your local cafe in a 488 and you will know what we mean.
Yet Ferrari has built up its reputation through motorsport, and as such it does not mess. Like all its cars, the 488 Spider is very capable of racing; a sign that is emphasized by its standard carbon-ceramic brakes. This car lacks nothing in comparison to its siblings, and unless you are Sebastian Vettel, that extra weight of 50 kg will not affect your lap time.
The seven-speed “F1” transmission in the Ferrari is only really comparable to what Porsche offers with its PDK in terms of fast shifting and everyday usability. It is perhaps one of the best uses of such a gearbox in a modern car, and we found it hard to fault. Put the Ferrari in its natural Race mode and you’ll feel every upshift with a big push, exactly as it should be.
The giant paddle shifters are securely locked to the steering column so that they stay in position no matter where you are in a corner, and every pull or push is rewarded with an immediate and relentless response. Then drive in daily traffic again in Sport mode (just the normal mode in a Ferrari) and on your own power away, you would not even know that it changes gear.
The other thing that makes the Ferrari a viable daily driver is the magnetic suspension. Despite running on 20-inch wheels, the MagneRide shock absorber system (SCM2) seems to be able to manage the worst Australian roads with ease. If Ferrari had come out and said that Australia was a test bed for tuning the suspension, we would have bought it in full. But if you’ve ever been on Italian country roads, you know why the 488 drives so well.
It is even clearer when the bumpy road setting is selected. It’s actually quite amazing, because we thought it had better driving behavior than even a lush Mercedes-Benz E-Class. It somehow slips over the pits and undulations without a shock through the cabin. Again, just like the transmission, this is only comparable to what Porsche is offering in its 911 series, and a clear advantage of the Ferrari over its direct Italian-German rival.
For $ 8900 you can and must also choose the front lift system that your 488 can use almost anywhere. It will raise the front by about 40 mm to get you in and out of difficult places. We managed to take the car to almost where our SUV would be, and that made it a much more pleasant and less daunting experience to drive.
However, we would like to see the nose lift work at higher speeds. While the Huracan sees its nose lift remaining at 70 km / h, the Ferrari only succeeds at around 45 km / h, which becomes annoying after a while if you want to keep your nose up in normal 60 km / h zones.
Anyway, whatever you would think about paying nearly $ 9K for such a basic system (standard on a Lambo), your marriage will thank you, because if your wife is something like mine, $ 9K of damage at the bottom and the front lip of your supercar will otherwise occur weekly.
With the lift kit installed, you can easily drive it to the stores and use the giant front boots for weekly shopping. At 230L it has much more space than you might think.
Because it is a convertible, the Spider has a lot of use. If the weather is ideal, the roof can stay off indefinitely and you can still have a conversation with your very happy passenger at highway speeds. But interestingly, when the weather gods disagree with Enzo and you need the roof, you could argue that it looks even better than the coupé with its dual-support design that houses the hard-roofed roof.
Nobody on earth can look at the car, turn the roof on or off, and say ‘that doesn’t look good’. It is a stunning work of art, both as a sum of its parts and viewed as an abstract object.
What is wrong with that? Well, if we ignore the insane number of options (who doesn’t like to complain about options on a Ferrari?), Including our favorites that are $ 6790 for Apple CarPlay (cable not included!), $ 2500 for parking sensors and nearly $ 5000 for a rear camera (in total as much as a city car that comes with it), the interior can be a bit better in itself.
Our specific car had certainly seen better days, with the leather on the seats and the overall cabin atmosphere a bit worse for wear. But ignoring that, the instrument panel for the audio and entertainment system on the right-hand side of the steering wheel (so that your passenger can’t change the music), which we actually love because we found it practical and good use of space, feels like a kind of thin. The buttons and dials don’t feel like they belong in a $ 665,000 car.
The optional JBL hi-fi system of $ 10,450 also leaves a lot to the imagination. Since this car probably spends a lot of its time looking great, we had hoped for a more premium audio system, especially given the optional price. You cannot always have the 488 near the red line.
But despite all the minor flaws that we can try to take apart with the 488 Spider, it remains our favorite convertible supercar in its class. The Huracan Spyder (‘Y’ not ‘I’, see the difference) is a beautiful car that will cost you less, and certainly that the V10 engine with natural suction is something very different from what is offered here, but unless you go to go for the Performante Spyder, the 488 Spider is not only faster, but also feels more dynamic. Besides, there is something special about owning a Ferrari.
When it comes down to it, if you happen to meet someone who says that the convertible 488 is a compromise, or that it is not a real Ferrari, call them for what they are – an idiot. Otherwise, if you want a Ferrari every day, the Spider is the best way to go.