Come in to my parlour, said the Spider . . . and the rich sporting driver duly obliged, tempted by one of the most delectable of Ferrari’s 21 road-going convertibles. The Spider is derived from the mid-engined F430 coupe, which in turn is a fairly obvious evolution of the F360. No matter, the F430 Spider is very special in its own right.
One impressive feature — which has been described as ‘a stunning 20-second mechanical symphony’ — sees the automatic top vanish into a storage bay between the seats and engine. Another intriguing dimension is the transparent hatch that allows the engine to be seen in all its potency. The slanting front end has two elliptical air intakes joined by a spoiler, harking back to sharknose Ferrari racing cars from the early 1960s. There are large air intakes on the sides and the rear valance includes a diffuser honed by competition experience.
The Spider’s new 4.3 litre V8 was the first departure from that long line of V8s derived from the Dino competition engine of the 1950s. The car has the full range of electronic wizardry, including launch control (not available in the USA), computer-controlled E-Diff limited slip differential and the manettino control knob on the steering wheel. This allows the driver to select one of five settings for the electronic stability-control system.
Needless to say the Spider is a breathtaking drive, with the usual caveat that its ideal habitat is uncluttered country roads rather than bustling city streets. The F430 is third only to the Enzo and 599 GTB in performance terms, and whilst the coupe is marginally faster than the Spider, the latter still has more power than most people will ever need or use — but is so tractable that it sticks tenaciously to the road however hard it may be driven.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
4,308 CC V8
Top speed of 193 mph (310 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 4 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The Spider was a beneficiary of Ferrari’s Formula 1 expertise, with a sinuous body shape that was refined with the help of the ultra-sophisticated computer simulations used to fine-tune the Scuderia’s winning Grand Prix cars.