Best of the Best 2012: Convertibles: Ferrari 458 Spider

  • Robert Ross

Ferrari purists seldom are followers of soft-top fashion, preferring the marque’s rigid berlinettas and their beautiful flowing forms to the canvas-roofed spiders. However, Ferrari’s latest mid-engine marvel, the 458 Italia, has morphed into a convertible without the fussy fabric flying buttresses of its predecessors. The 458 Spider features a folding aluminum hard top that transforms the convertible into a civilized coupe. When raised, the top cuts an elegant profile, but it disappears completely when the 458 sets out in full Spider mode. The aluminum top weighs about 50 pounds less than a conventional folding soft top.

The 458 Italia set the bar for modern sports cars, and the 458 Spider compares well to its berlinetta brother when it comes to performance and torsional rigidity. Ferrari engineers have maintained the same exquisite handling characteristics and steering feedback bordering on telepathy that make the Italia such a thrill to drive.

Of course, the real thrill of the 458 Spider is situated aft of the driver, where eight stampeding pistons spool up to a fevered 9,000 rpm redline, tempting the driver with every gear change. The 4.5-liter V-8 develops 562 hp and 398 ft lbs of torque and enables the Spider to nudge the 200 mph mark when the top is up. When the top is down, the engine’s induction roar and exhaust note delight driver and passenger with a soul-stirring scream that accompanies every high-rpm shift. Gear changes with the 7-speed, dual-clutch, paddle-shift gearbox are lightning fast and butter smooth. With a dry weight of less than 3,200 pounds, the 458 Spider is relatively light and shoots from zero to 60 mph in about 3.3 seconds.

The interior is impeccably detailed Italian modern. Leather and carbon fiber are plentiful, as are space and comfort, making the 458 Spider a true grand-touring convertible for two.

Ferrari, www.ferrari.com

Read Next Article >>
The nearly 1,000 cc motorcycles draw inspiration from Yamaha’s seven-figure MotoGP race bike…
In both design and performance, the new S-Class Coupes branch out from Mercedes’s historically...
The sedan is set to compete with the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Audi A3…
Photo by Daylight Studio Snc
A century of quintessentially Italian carmaking and motorsports…
The four new models combine retro styling with modern technology…
The H2R has an approximately 300 hp engine, the most powerful on the market...
Sitting behind the wheel of this $280,225 top-down roadster incites a flurry of emotions…
Photo by Benedict Campbell
The Screamin’ Eagle 110 motor churns out 115 ft lbs of torque…
Photo by Max Earey
The population of China—which at last count included 2.8 million millionaires and 315 billionaires—...
From November 1 through 11, some of the world’s most elite vehicles will compete for the prize…