The big news for the Ferrari faithful back in 2012 is the addition of the 458 Spider to the lineup. Unlike its predecessors, Ferrari avoided the fabric convertible top, and also the flip-top SuperAmerica. Where the Superamerica’s transparent roof rotated into the rear deck lid, the 458 Spider’s roof separates and stacks before flipping under a traditional tonneau cover. Ferrari says its patented design keeps the folded roof from intruding into the engine compartment or cabin area and even leaves room for a small luggage bench behind the two chairs. Made entirely from aluminum, the 458 Spider’s top apparatus weighs 55 pounds less than a traditional soft-top and opens and closes in a fast-for-a-hardtop 14 seconds. Altogether, Ferrari says the 458 Spider (it dropped the Italia part for the convertible) is 111 pounds heavier than the coupe for a dry weight of 3,153 pounds; we anticipate its curb weight to be around 3,400 pounds.
Ferrari says it will run zero-to-62 mph in 3.5 seconds and top out at more than 198 mph, a modest increase of 0.1 of a second and decrease of four miles per hour compared to the coupe. The new rear cover features two large and six smaller intakes feeding the engine and cooling the radiators for the clutch and gearbox oil. Air is diverted inward by two large roll hoops behind and on either side of the passengers’ chairs. The visuals provided by the intake vents and buttresses, especially from an angle above the car, are nothing short of mesmerizing. The rest of the Pininfarina-penned coupe’s aerodynamically sculpted lines and compact shape are retained. The only item we will miss is the transparent rear window with easy visual access to the 4.5-liter V-8 engine. Like the coupe and an often unmentioned aspect of the 458 Italia, the car’s screaming engine normally creates 557 hp and only makes the full 562 when the little deformable flaps in the front intakes are flattened at very high speeds. The V-8 features direct fuel injection for less fuel consumption and emissions while improving performance.
Despite its high-revving nature, the power plant puts out 80 percent of its 398 lb-ft of torque at 3,250 rpm. Of course, the traditional flat-plane racing crankshaft and triple exhaust parlay with the 9,000-rpm redline to produce a mechanical aria that is as patriotic sounding to Italian car lovers as the car’s name. Ferrari says it tweaked the 458 Spider’s exhaust note further for even more ear splendor within the cabin. The sublime F430 is a pretty tough act to follow, but with the original 458 Italia and now with the 458 Spider, Ferrari has surpassed most people’s expectations while raising the bar on the other exotic-car manufacturers.
LIST PRICE: $225,325 coupe,
ENGINE: 4.5-liter V-8
HORSEPOWER: 557 hp @ 9,000 rpm
TORQUE: 398 lb-ft @ 6,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed DCT
0–60: Less than 3.4 seconds (coupe), 3.5 seconds (spider)
TOP SPEED: More than 202 mph (coupe), 198 mph (spider)
WEIGHT: 3,267 lb (coupe), 3,400 lb (spider)
LENGTH: 178 inches
TIRES: Front: 235/35ZR-20, Rear: 295/35ZR-20
PRO: Deserving successor to the beloved 430
CON: No more clear view of the engine