Topless Prancing Horse
Vivien Natasen casts his first impressions of the Ferrari 488 Spider.
To me the 458 Italia was a great achievement for the marque – A poised supercar graced with looks, with performance and reliability to match that could still invoke emotions that every car fanatic reminisces about. To take that DNA and make it better was always going to be difficult for Ferrari. Yet they managed to do exactly that. Purists will say that the move away from natural aspiration to turbochargers is sacrilege, however, like everything else in life, change is inevitable. Enter the 488.
We recently had the privilege of driving the 488 around the track and I must say it is a superb vehicle and extremely focused away from street congestion and only a circuit ahead. It keeps its nose down much better under different power inputs. The corsa piloto instructor pointed out the differences, the most of which have come out from their learnings from Formula 1 which have translated into changes in the 488. It genuinely is not a facelifted 458 with turbochargers bolted on as some have postulated.
And now they have launched a spider (convertible) version. To really put this into perspective the 488 Spider is more powerful than the Ferrari icon of the millennium, the Enzo, and is capable of 0-200 kph in 8.7 seconds. This means Ferrari was able to harness the turbo technology to provide masses of power through various ranges in order to quicken the car not just from take-off but in the high rev ranges too. The car is fitted with a twin-turbocharged 3.9-litre V8 that produces 492 kW and a hefty 760 Nm of torque.
In most territories it appears that the 488 Spider outsells the Coupe. This makes perfect sense as the vehicle carries the option of topless driving without any compromise on performance and safety. In climates like South Africa, this is almost a given where the weather is suitable most times of the year to take the roof down. The profile of the vehicle looks superb with the roof open or closed, as many marques design convertibles to look great with the roof open yet they look a bit off with them shut.
On the 488s driver ergonomics have been vastly improved with more accessible controls and relevant information provided on multifunction displays as wings on either side of the rev counter thereby allowing the driver to focus on the road and have all important data a glance away.
With customer deliveries of the 488, it’s no wonder that all sales units have been taken up for the coming year which is an amazing achievement in a depressed economy with a general slowdown in consumer demand. To the purists that say this car loses some of Ferrari’s soul, I vehemently disagree. Times require the use of new technology and Ferrari has come to the party to not only be responsible for innovation, but to show people how innovation should be done.