The Ferrari F8 Spider Is a 710-HP, 211-MPH Banshee
The open-roof version of the F8 Tributo tags in for the 488 Spider.
Earlier this year, Ferrari announced the F8 Tributo as the replacement for the 488 GTB, and now it's unveiled the open-top F8 Spider, which takes over from the 488 Spider. The convertible's upgrades are similar to those of the hardtop, most notably an improved version of Ferrari's 3.9-liter twin-turbo V-8, which now matches the 488 Pista (Track) model's 710 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque. For those keeping score, those are 49-hp and 7-lb-ft improvements over the 488 Spider.
The new car is 44 pounds lighter than its predecessor, with much of the weight savings—40 pounds, to be specific—coming come from the powertrain itself. For example, the crankshaft, flywheel, and connecting rods have been lightened, giving a 17 percent reduction in rotational inertia and allowing the engine to rev more quickly. Exhaust manifolds are now made from Inconel, an extremely heat-resistant nickel alloy that reduces weight by 21 pounds. Ferrari also made extensive changes to the exhaust routing to improve the soundtrack, and the exhaust incorporates a gasoline particulate filter, presumably to meet new Euro 6 emissions standards.
Much of the engine's power increase comes from adopting the intake routing from the 488 Challenge. While the 488 Spider pulled its air from the flanks of the car, the F8 Spider's intakes are at the base of the rear spoiler, with air routed directly to the intake plenums. The Ferrari Variable Torque Management system has been tweaked to provide steadier torque throughout the rev range, and the rev limiter has been reprogrammed to provide a hard cut-off at 8,000 rpm rather than gradually reducing power as the engine approaches redline.
Despite the obsession with weight reduction, the F8 Spider continues to use a retractable metal hardtop instead of a soft convertible roof because, Ferrari says, of the top-up comfort it provides. The roof splits into two pieces and folds atop the engine, with the lid carefully designed with cutlines intended to harmonize with the car's overall design. Deployment time is 14 seconds, and the roof can be opened or closed at speeds up to 28 mph.
As with the F8 Tributo, the Spider's front end is shaped around the S-Duct adopted from the 488 Pista, which optimizes airflow to increase downforce. The headlights are LEDs, which allows a more compact design, and the rear spoiler is much larger and more prominent than the 488's. Purists will be pleased to see that the redesigned rear fascia now incorporates a twin-taillight look. Inside, the driver sits in newly designed seats and grips a newly adopted, smaller-diameter steering wheel.
Ferrari claims better performance compared to the 488 Spider, thanks not only to the engine enhancements but to a reprogramming of the Ferrari Variable Torque Management system to provide improved torque throughout the engine speed range. That said, the zero-to-100-kph (62 mph) figure remains unchanged at 2.9 seconds, though top speed increases by 6 mph to 211.
Ferrari's software crew has also been at work on Side Slip Angle Control and Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer (which can now be activated when the car is in Race mode). These systems allow the driver more latitude in terms of wheelspin and drift angles while still providing a layer of electronic protection.
Pricing has not been announced except to say it will be approximately 11 percent more expensive than the coupe, which would place it around the $300K mark. Given that, and that the outgoing 488 Spider could easily be optioned up to around $400K, it's safe to say potential buyers won't be cross-shopping it against Hyundai Velosters. For what it's worth, the F8 Spider now includes seven years of free scheduled maintenance at either one-year or 20,000-km (about 12,500 miles) intervals with no upper mileage limit—something you certainly don't get from Hyundai.
Normally we wouldn't make any predictions about how good the car will be to drive, but the 488 Spider is one of our favorites—our own Arthur St. Antoine called it "the single greatest modern automobile for sale in all the world"—and our first drive of the 488 Pista, from which the F8 Spider draws many of its improvements, has convinced us that there is no better way to put 700 horses to work. We have no doubt that the F8 Spider is going to be a spectacular automobile, and if you're as entranced as we are, know that deliveries begin next summer.