First Look: Ferrari 488 Spider

Lightweight power hardtop opens in 14 seconds.

by on Sep.16, 2015

The 488 Spider's drop top was designed to add minimal weight to the sports car.

You already know the Ferrari 488 Spider is going to be fast, but that extends to the new folding hardtop, as well, which will retract in a mere 14 seconds, the Italian automaker announced during the preview of the new cabriolet at this week’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

The Spider is the open-air version of the only recently launched Ferrari 488 GTB, and with the top up, the two models bear a strong visual resemblance. The good news is that they also share the same basic performance specs thanks to the design of the top which adds only a modest amount of mass to the new model.

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Cutting the roof off is always a challenge for Ferrari engineers. It not only risks adding weight, but weakening a car’s chassis and worsening aerodynamics. The maker claims it was able to overcome all three of those potential problems.

The hardtop’s simple design and aluminum frame added only about 88 pounds compared to the 488 GTB – about 25 pounds less than a classic softtop would have resulted in – the 488 Spider coming in at just 3,362 pounds.

Active and passive aero systems reduce drag and deliver massive downforce at track speeds.

Meanwhile, engineers were able to maintain a very low level of aerodynamic drag, while boosting downforce substantially – to about 660 pounds, in fact, at 150 miles per hour.

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Some of the aero changes are readily apparent, including a modified spoiler that helps both generate underbody section while also channeling air to the radiator. There’s also a rear diffuser that both boosts downforce and reduces underbody air turbulence.

The Ferrari 488 Spider’s engine is a typical marvel of engineering, with such details as an ion-sensing system used to adjust ignition timing, as well as a multi-spark feature that maximizes efficiency under high loads. A flat-plane crank also helps reduce mass, one reason Ferrari was able to boast how quickly the engine responds to a press of the throttle. Another reason is the new twin-scroll turbo.

The 3.9-liter turbocharged package churns out 660 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque. That will help you hit 100 kmh (about 62.5 mph) in a flat 3 seconds, or 200 kmh in 8.7 seconds. Power is directed to the rear wheels through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission capable of shifting in as little as 0.06 seconds.

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The Spider has a tuned exhaust which creates "the perfect soundtrack" even with the top down.

An updated version of Ferrari’s Side Slip Angle Control is said to boost the 488 Spider’s performance coming out of corners, and works in coordination with both its E-Differential and magnetic damping system.

To make the experience even more appealing, Ferrari officials noted engineers put a significant amount of effort into creating the “perfect soundtrack,” which they described during the Frankfurt preview as “seductive but not invasive with the top down.”

Incidentally, the design of the new folding hardtop apparently takes a lot less space than a conventional design.

Other details include a new, ribbed engine cover, a mesh grille. And, for those who measure performance in terms of in-car electronics, the new Ferrari 488 Spider also gets the Apple CarPlay system first introduced on the Ferrari FF.

The Ferrari 488 Spider is just one of an assortment of new convertibles debuting in Frankfurt this week, a list that also includes the Lamborghini LP610-4 Spyder.

Look for the Ferrari 488 Spider to land in U.S. showrooms during the first half of next year at a tentative starting price of around $270,000.

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One Response to “First Look: Ferrari 488 Spider”

  1. Jorge M. says:

    Other than the silly headlight pods the basic styling looks nice. The performance is inspiring to say the least.