by John Tallodi
The 488 Spider is the open top variant of the superb 488 GTB hardtop sports car. Few rivals can match the hardtops dynamic abilities and the clever integration of the folding roof mechanism means that the Spider retains its dynamic edge.
The cockpit remains unchanged from the GTB, unlike in the old days when Ferrari interiors were a plastic afterthought the Spider features top quality materials and a vast range of customizations are on offer too.
The steering wheel mounted controls may take a bit of time to get accustomed to but in general the ergonomics are excellent and the seats are supportive and comfortable. What the Spider does offer over the GTB is an electronically operated metal roof that gives the cabin a far more open feel, it also allows you to better appreciate that great exhaust note.
You won’t be packing big bags in the front trunk but an available Ferrari luggage set does make the most of the restricted cargo area.
Adaptive dampers and a well-honed suspension setup make the 488 Spider equally capable on a race track as it is cruising along the coastline. The steering has a very quick ratio and the engine responds eagerly in even the most relaxed setting so it takes a few miles to get used to the sharp responses.
The conversion to an open-topped sports car has not harmed the 488’s superb handling dynamics in any noticeable way either, it feels just as intense as ever and the additional sound and fury when the roof is down makes the driving experience even more involving.
The ride is firm but rather good at absorbing bad road surfaces and while the engine and exhaust can be quiet when required, the massive tires do transmit some road noise into the cabin.
The 488 Spider has a 3.9-liter twin-turbocharged V8 with 661 horsepower and 561 lb-ft of torque at its disposal. Drive is sent to the rear wheels through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and acceleration times are claimed to be practically identical to the GTB.
This means a 3.0-second 0-60mph time and s standard and instantaneous acceleration in any gear, the top speed of 203mph is only 2mph down on the GTB and largely academic but shows just how powerful this mid-engined Ferrari is. Compared to similarly priced and powered rivals, the 488 Spider is at least as accelerative and that dual-clutch transmission is one of the best in the business.
The 488 Spider is available in one trim level and notable standard equipment includes cruise control, keyless ignition, rear parking sensors, climate control, leather sport seats, heated exterior mirrors, Audio system with satellite radio compatibility and USB connection and 20-inch alloy wheels with Carbon ceramic brakes.
The range of available interior and exterior customization options is vast, shoppers can choose from Carbon-fiber inlays, sill covers, powered racing seats, diamond pattern leather trim or Alcantara interior details. There are numerous seating options with a choice of small, medium and large frames to ensure a perfect fit.
There are also some more conventional options such as Apple CarPlay connectivity, a premium audio system, electrochromatic rearview mirror, Titanium sport exhaust pipes, and a Ferrari telemetry system to choose from.
The Ferrari 488 Spider has taken the best of the 488 GTB and added the option of open-topped driving. The powered metal roof portion retracts into a cavity behind the driver and adds very little to the overall weight meaning that performance and driving dynamics are practically on par with the hardtop 488.
The ride is firm but better than you would expect on bumpy roads and that engine and chassis are still one of the sharpest combinations around. Few rivals can match it for dynamic ability and none have a name as evocative and steeped in racing history.