Ferrari’s V8 mid-engined sports car, the 488 GTB, is now past its mid-life cycle – marked by the launch of the 488 Pista last year. Earlier this year, the Italian carmaker released the 488 Pista Spider, a hardtop convertible version.
Styling-wise, the two cars are practically twins. But on closer inspection, a flying buttress disguised as a thick C-pillar gives the convertible away. So close is the Spider to its sibling that it matches the coupe’s top speed of 340kmh.
At 200kmh, the car’s aerodynamics create 240kg of downforce – 20 per cent more than the standard 488 GTB.
Its 3.9-litre turbocharged V8 has been tweaked extensively. Its intake runners have been redesigned for better flow, its titanium valves are hollow for inertia reduction, its camshafts are altered for more lift and duration, and its crankshaft and connecting rods are strengthened and lightened.
The result is an engine which is 18kg lighter and which develops 720hp at 8,000rpm – 50hp more than the 488 GTB’s.
The car’s variable torque management shapes the torque curve differently for the first six gears to make the V8 feel more like a high-revving normally aspirated engine.
Still, the wail of Ferrari’s past engines is all but gone. But the Pista Spider impresses with its unearthly acceleration. Zero to hundred is done in 2.85 seconds and 200kmh in 8 seconds.
Even the super grippy Michelin Cup 2 tyres scramble for grip when the car is accelerating hard in the first three gears. The tyres impart a secure feel at the helm, with a high degree of progressiveness that allows the driver to push confidently to the extreme limit.
Despite its handling prowess, the 488 Pista Spider does not have a punishing ride. Sport mode is the default setting, which can be further tempered by a “bumpy road” button. This reduces the damping to allow the suspension to traverse the bumps less harshly.
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You can select other modes, from Wet to Race (all stability systems off). Ferrari’s side-slip control intervenes accordingly in each mode to keep things safe.
Admittedly, the 488 Pista Spider might be aimed at a less hardcore audience, but it is every bit as special as its coupe twin.
Its retractable hardtop adds some weight and reduces the body strength, but there is one immutable advantage when driving with the roof open – the fantastic soundtrack of its V8, which is never appreciated fully in a coupe.
The way it scythes through a series of corners is just more rewarding with the top down. This way, the Pista Spider makes an everyday commute an occasion – and not just track day at twice the speed.
Its V8 note, its absolutely connected steering and superbly sorted chassis all come together beautifully as it blasts down a meandering country road.
With electrification growing in intensity, the 488 Pista Spider may well be the last generation of cars to deliver such sinful pleasures.
Ferrari 488 Pista Spider
Price: From $1.399 million without COE when it arrives in the first quarter of next year
Engine: 3,902cc 32-valve V8 twin-turbocharged
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch with paddle shift
Power: 720hp at 8,000rpm
Torque: 770Nm at 3,000rpm (seventh gear)
0-100kmh: 2.85 seconds
Top speed: 340kmh
Fuel consumption: 12.8 litres/100km
Agent: Ital Auto
This article was originally published in The Straits Times.
Photos: Lorenzo Marcinno