If an ordinary Ferrari 458 Italia is a bit too dull for you, and not imposing enough then take a look at this. The quite simply gorgeous 458 Spider. The car is due to get its public debut at the Frankfurt Motorshow in September and go on sale shortly after for an estimated £180k. Apart from the fact that this car is brain freeze inducingly beautiful, it is also a world first. Why you ask? Because it is the first mid engined folding hard top, and I’d also like to point out the world’s first folding hard top not to feature a huge bottom as a consequence. The mid engined, trim bottomed profile is achieved by an incredibly clever folding roof, which allows it to be stored compactly upside down just behind the seats.
So the 458 has kept its superb profile with the removal of the roof, however has it lost its performance edge carrying that extra 50kg of weight? The engine remains the same 4.5 litre V8, revving to an ear drum bursting 9000rpm, creating 570 rampant Italian horses in the process. Power is still put through a flappy paddle gearbox, an immensely confusing electronic differential and a bewildering array of computer software. All this equates to a 0-62 time of exactly the same as the hard top at 3.4 seconds. That’s the equivalent of how long it takes you, to read this sentence. So based on all that it doesn’t seem like the car has been hindered by carrying the extra weight! Ferrari has also kindly fitted a wind deflector in the cabin, which allows its occupants to hold a civilised discussion about yachts and tax evasion at anything up to 125mph with the roof down.
Now on the topic of occupants, who will be the ideal buyers for the 458 Spider? Glamorous, mildly anorexic models, play boys going mental with daddy’s trust fund on the Cote D’Azur? These people, however annoying they are, would perfectly fit the 458’s image. The likelihood however is that Brian, the retired dentist from Norfolk, will buy the 458 Spider and proceed to drive it at no more than 65mph down to the golf club to show his buddies. Nothing on earth can ruin the sexy allure of a Ferrari more than a slightly tubby balding man in a Pringle jumper. Ferrari however, may have inadvertently saved the 458 from the impending doom of ownership by Brian. The equally brilliant yet slightly slower and fatter Ferrari California exists in the model range alongside the new Spider.
This car, although having been out for longer, may hopefully entice buyers like Brian away from the Spider due to its easier going, lazy, rotund image. This car alone might just save the 458 for the image conscious Ferrari purist among us. Only time will tell.
So in the meantime let’s just bask in the beauty of the Spider, and be thankful to the gods of motoring that cars like this can still be dreamt up, designed and built in an ever increasingly sensible marketplace. Let the 458 Spider and its hard top brother adorn the walls of little boy’s bed rooms for many years to come, just like the F40 did for me.