First Look: Ferrari 458 Spider

There's a new way to get sunburned in a Ferrari, as the Italian maker of exotics has announced the 458 Spider, a convertible version of the 458 Italia. The Ferrari 458 Spider is mechanically identical to the Italia coupe.

As in the 458 Italia, the Spider's heart is a 4.5-liter V-8 engine with 570 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque. Power is transmitted through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to the rear wheels. Ferrari says the 458 Spider can hit 62 mph in less than 3.5 seconds, and attain a top speed of over 198 mph.

The roof is made from aluminum and reportedly weighs 55 pounds less than a comparable fabric top. It folds into a space in front of the engine in just 14 seconds (check out the video below to see the roof in action). The roof doesn't actually fold, instead rotating into the decklid just like the convertible roof on the old Ferrari 575M Superamerica.

The 458's basic shape isn't really compromised by removing its top, as the car's profile, nose, and tail are all pretty much identical to that of the Italia. With the top down, however, the Spider has two sloped buttresses that extend from the top of the headrests to the rear spoiler.

Redesigned air intakes above the engine bay help route cool air to the intakes and oil coolers. A shelf behind the front seats provides a small amount of luggage space. An electrically operated wind blocker is said to keep the cabin so quiet and so turbulence-free that "normal conversation" is possible at speeds of up to 124 mph with the roof down.

Removing the 458's roof apparently won't compromise its driving dynamics. Ferrari says the convertible is just as structurally rigid as the coupe. At 3153 pounds, the 458 Spider is only 111 pounds heavier than its Italia sibling. The company has even retuned the 458 Spider's exhaust note to ensure "absolute driving pleasure with the top down."

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