Given the choice of coupe or convertible, it’s the fixed-roof car that usually gets the driving enthusiast’s nod. But for some, the appeal of a new Ferrari is best enjoyed without extra metalwork muffling a high-revving engine.
To that end, Ferrari has unveiled its new F8 Spider, following on from the berlinetta F8 Tributo we recently tested. It follows in the footsteps of Spider variants of the 488 and 458 before it, and like its predecessors, the centrepiece is a two-piece retractable hard-top that stows in only 14 seconds.
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It’s this, as with previous Spiders, that dictates the open-topped F8’s styling, trading a flowing glass engine cover for a buttressed rear end that hides away the engine but makes an even greater feature of the cockpit.
Broadly, the exterior styling is as per the F8 Tributo, itself a subtle evolution from the 488. The bonnet gets an integrated 'S duct' much like that of the 488 Pista, while the rear sees more extensive changes, with neat quad tail-light units and a heavily redesigned rear spoiler compared to the F8’s predecessor - a feature Ferrari says is not unlike that of its earlier V8 models such as the 308 GTB.
The new buttresses are sure to compromise rear visibility, but they integrate well with the F8’s styling as they did on the 488, and the flatter rear deck if anything gives the car an even more ground-hugging appearance than the Tributo. The cockpit is otherwise as per the berlinetta, though that’s no bad thing - and as well as taking only 14 seconds, open-air access can be achieved at speeds of up to 28mph.
Mechanically and technically the F8 Spider is little changed from the Tributo, so Ferrari instead compares the changes to the outgoing 488 Spider.
First there’s the 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8, which shares more with the Pista than the standard 488, with similar lightweight internals (including a lighter crank, titanium conrods and a lightweight flywheel), to higher-lift cams, and intake tracts from the 488 Challenge cars. Like the 488 Pista, the F8 takes its air in at the rear spoiler area, rather than the side intakes. The unit is 18kg lighter than that of the 488 Spider, too.
While the latest engine uses emissions equipment now mandatory on all cars - such as petrol particulate filters - this is still a hugely powerful engine, Ferrari quoting 710bhp at 8000rpm, and 568lb ft of torque at 3250rpm, with improvements in torque throughout the rev range compared to the 488. As ever, Ferrari claims an absence of turbo lag, and has specially tuned the exhausts (with their inconel manifolds, saving 9.7kg) to take account of the muffling effect of the particulate filters.
Other tech carried over from the Tributo includes Adaptive Performance Launch to maximise traction, torque curves that vary in each gear to deliver smooth acceleration at any speed and any revs, and the latest evolution of Side Slip Control for even better driver control in Race mode.
On paper then the F8 Spider should be an obvious improvement on the 488 Spider it replaces. And if it’s as good as the five-star F8 Tributo we’ve just tested, but throws in that top-down ability, then buyers should find very little to complain about.