2012 Ferrari 458 Italia Spider Drops its Hardtop [w/ Video]
Despite being, along with the California, one of the “cheap” (and we use that term so loosely you could drive the Queen Mary 2 through the gap) Ferraris, the 458 Italia features performance figures that blow two of the company’s past halo cars (the F40 and F50) into the erbacce and cause the most recent one (the Enzo) to suffer panic attacks and night terrors. All that from a little normally-aspirated 4.5L V8.
Unfortunately, if you hang your hat in a place with a temperate climate, your only fresh air options in an Italia are a) roll down the driver’s door window, b) roll down the passenger’s door window, or c) roll ‘em both down. Not exactly sufficient for taking full advantage of a typical Malibu or Monaco summer day, is it? Luckily, Ferrari is about to release a proverbial patch for this proverbial bug in the form of an open air 458, the 2012 458 Spider.
Aside from continuing the lineage of mid-engine, V8-powered full convertibles that dates back to the 348 Spider (or the Mondial Cabriolet if you don’t limit it to two-seaters), the 458 Spider is significant for being the first production mid-engine Ferrari droptop to feature a retractable hardtop rather than a fabric lid. But rather than folding to take up less space, the aluminum roof panel essentially rotates backwards to expose the cabin and fit neatly beneath the hard tonneau cover whose fairings double as the B-pillars of the top when it’s raised. Meanwhile, the vertical rear window can be raised and lowered independently of the roof, allowing it to function as a wind-blocker. And lest you assume this setup adds more bulk than a traditional cloth top, Ferrari claims this patented design is actually 55 lb. lighter than an old school folding roof would have been.
Of course, the rest of the car is pretty much the same as its fixed-roof sister, though Ferrari has made some unspecified structural tweaks to allow it to claim the 458 Spider boasts the same torsional rigidity with the top down as it does with the top up. The aforementioned direct-injected V8 punching out 562hp is carried over from the coupe, as is its neighbor, a 7-speed twin-clutch transmission. Sadly, though, one of the knock-on effects of the roof design is that the engine is hidden from view. Granted, this was already the case with topless Fezzas prior to the 360 Spider, but it’s still something of a step backward in terms of aesthetics/sheer awesomeness.
But the 458 Spider’s sheer performance has not taken a step backward relative to its predecessors, and it’s really not that far off the Italia’s figures either. Ferrari claims the 0-62 mph dash takes less than 3.4 seconds, while top speed is allegedly north of 198 mph. Additionally, a full suite of electronics including E-Diff (a Formula 1-proven electromechanical stand-in for a conventional limited-slip unit), F1-Trac (traction control) and a high performance ABS brain for the brakes help the driver get the most out of the car when the pavement turns squiggly.
So do you want one? If you’ve read this far, the answer is probably “Yes.” Now all that’s left for you to do is get on the waiting list post-haste and make sure you have about $300,000 (give or take $50k) to spare. Easy, right? And in case you want to see it in the metal, you’ll get your first chance at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show.