Lifestyle

Drop-top with bite: Ferrari 488 Spider road test and review

OPEN SEASON: Spider’s 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 offers 492kW and 760Nm, but with the options fitted to our test car it will set you back over $650,000. It’s still worth it.
OPEN SEASON: Spider’s 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 offers 492kW and 760Nm, but with the options fitted to our test car it will set you back over $650,000. It’s still worth it. Iain Curry

YOU can't beat a Prancing Horse badge for scoring attention, so what have we here?

Rather beautiful, yes? It's the Ferrari 488 Spider, the folding hardtop version of the equally delicious 488 GTB coupe.

2017 Ferrari 488 Spider
2017 Ferrari 488 Spider Iain Curry

I think I'm in love...

Me too. The one we Aussie journos get to drive is dressed in special Blu Corsa paint, mixed especially for the 488 Spider and adding an extra $22,000 to your bill.  

Okay, hit me with the figures.

Since we're talking money the 488 Spider will set you back $526,888 plus on-road costs and that's before you start draining funds on the cost options. But value is to be had.   

For starters, a 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 delivers 492kW of power and 760Nm of torque, helping you hit 100kmh in three seconds flat and on to 325kmh if you ever get the chance.  

Such performance allied to a devastatingly talented chassis and those good looks somehow make this thing seem worth its considerable sticker price.  

Yet even if you win lotto or sold your successful hedge fund managing business, you'll still have to join a two-year waiting list to buy one.  

2017 Ferrari 488 Spider
2017 Ferrari 488 Spider Iain Curry

Quite desirable then?

Indeed, which makes it quite a special opportunity to pilot one.  

Give me this car and the choice of any destination on the planet and I'd choose (in summertime) an early morning pose around Monte Carlo, a blast north to the hairpin-fest of the Col De Turini Monte Carlo Rally stage, then across the Alps into Italy and I could be in Modena for a late lunch.   

A leisurely cruise to Florence for an alfresco dinner date would follow, with the 488 Spider parked in sight to enjoy its sexy lines as the sun set while we enjoyed a glass of overpriced Chianti.

2017 Ferrari 488 Spider
2017 Ferrari 488 Spider Iain Curry

And how was the reality?

Well, beggars can't be choosers so you snare what chances you can. I was handed keys to the 488 Spider during the Bathurst 12 Hour race weekend and given a two-hour window to enjoy it.   

My cruise was down-town Bathurst (traffic and roadworks), my Monte Carlo stage was about a kilometre of twisties near Wattle Flat (the town's general store stood in for Modena) and my destination, the gold rush town of Sofala, did its best to mimic Florence.

2017 Ferrari 488 Spider
2017 Ferrari 488 Spider Iain Curry

Right. Still enjoyable though?

If you can't enjoy driving this thing no matter the road you must be dead inside. It is a full assault on the senses, from the Prancing Horse-embossed leather cabin to the sound from a wailing turbocharged V8 through to the quite epic acceleration in any gear from practically any part of the rev range.

Was it top down all the way?

Too right. The retractable hard top goes up or down in 14 seconds (it's a lovely thing to watch fold away behind your ear) and the sculpted and very racy blue-striped seats snugly grip your rear in position ready for the ride.  

A few quick adjustments and I instantly felt the Ferrari was bespoke tailored just for me.

The seat, steering wheel and driver-focused dashboard, switches and dials make for a totally driver-centred experience.

2017 Ferrari 488 Spider
2017 Ferrari 488 Spider Iain Curry

And all is at your fingertips.

My carbon fibre and leather steering wheel had start button, lights, drive mode selector, "bumpy road" damper button and indicators within a thumb swing away. Good. It meant two hands could always be kept on the wheel with the up and down-shift paddles an easy squeeze behind.  

And firing that engine up?

Let's wake the neighbours. What a brutal yet glorious singing howl this V8 makes and from more than 3000rpm it all gets even more shouty and delicious.   

Yet it's an engine that's come in for criticism from purists. It's those two turbos, you see. The 488's predecessor - the 458 - used a naturally aspirated 4.5-litre V8 with that pure non-turbo sound and instant throttle response.  

Yet the 488 Spider's 3.9-litre twin turbo brings an extra 67kW and 120Nm, better fuel economy and less harmful emissions. And look, I may not be Kimi Raikkonen but my right foot/brain combo could report zero turbo lag issues here.  

With roof stowed and especially when dropping a cog or three through the sublime seven-speed auto box, the turbocharged V8 soundtrack which bothered the local wildlife in rural NSW felt heavenly and highly emotive to me.

Yes, you know it's a turbo in both sound and the way the smash of torque pulls your face skin back to expose half of your eyeballs but it remains glorious.

2017 Ferrari 488 Spider
2017 Ferrari 488 Spider Iain Curry

It's quite quick then?

Blisteringly fast. And it's blessed with a chassis to control that speed. Point the Spider at any corner, at any speed and the balance, grip and communication is simply mega. You can really only explore a fraction of its potential on the road.  

Switch between drive modes (Race, quite pleasingly, is your default setting, keeping driver aids on and exhaust note rorty) and Magnaride magnetic dampers adjust to suit. It's quite incredible how flat the Spider sits in the turns, then flick it into "bumpy road" mode and it'll handle some pretty crummy surfaces in a way a supercar has no right to.   

Everyday driver? I'd say so ... until you inevitably lose your licence.  

The brakes are also epic. The Spider comes with carbon ceramic stoppers as standard - a great addition for performance road or track use, but almost surprising considering the optional extras you do have to pay extra for.

2017 Ferrari 488 Spider
2017 Ferrari 488 Spider Iain Curry

The costs add up then?

Oh yes. My test car had a rather comical $140,000 of options included - you could buy a Porsche Cayman S for that price alone. As tested, this blue delight sets you back more than $650,000.  

I can accept the titanium sports exhausts costing an extra $4080 (seems good value actually) but $5000 for a rear parking camera? $6800 for Apple CarPlay? Hell, the floor mats with Ferrari logos cost $2155. For floor mats.  

Going carbon fibre options crazy on this car (front spoiler, side air splitter, rear air ducts, racing seat Drivers Zone area and tunnel bridge) totalled an additional $60k. Gulp.

2017 Ferrari 488 Spider
2017 Ferrari 488 Spider Iain Curry

Should I buy one?

If you have the means how could you be disappointed? You can get the 488 GTB hardtop for $57k cheaper but for the truly ideal blend of performance and boulevard posing this Spider properly reveals your sun-kissed grin to the world.

And that can be in Barcelona, Bologna or even the back roads of Bathurst.

2017 Ferrari 488 Spider
2017 Ferrari 488 Spider Iain Curry

Vital statistics

MODEL: Ferrari 488 Spider  

PRICE: $526,888 before on roads. Car as tested $656,513 before on-roads.   

DETAILS: Two-seat mid-engined rear-wheel drive convertible supercar roadster.   

ENGINE: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 492kW/760Nm.  

TRANSMISSION: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic with paddle shift.   

THIRST: 11.4 litres/100km.   

PERFORMANCE: 0-100kmh in 3.0-seconds, top speed of 325kmh.  

2017 Ferrari 488 Spider
2017 Ferrari 488 Spider Iain Curry

What matters most

WHAT WE LIKED: Brutal acceleration, quite incredible balance, feel and feedback, achingly beautiful design.  

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE: Price of some of those options, waiting list.  

WARRANTY AND SERVICING: Three-year/unlimited kilometres with complimentary scheduled maintenance for the first seven years of the vehicle's life.

2017 Ferrari 488 Spider
2017 Ferrari 488 Spider Iain Curry

Topics:  488 spider cars editors picks ferrari motoring performance review road test supercar


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Simon Baker and Rebecca Rigg pledge big sum to flood appeal

LOCALS: Australian actors Simon Baker and Rebecca Rigg arrive for the 6th AACTA International Awards at Avalon Hollywood in Los Angeles, California, USA, 06 January 2017.

Stars confirmed donation to Rise Above the Flood

Investigation: No ambulance for stroke victim

NSW Minister for Health MP Jillian Skinner and NSW Minister for Mental Health MP Pru Goward open the new Byron Central Hospital. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

CEO says investigation has been launched

Arts funding offered by Create NSW

Create NSW CEO Michael Brealey (right) with the winner of the inaugural NSW Visual Artist Fellowship, Salote Tawale.

Artists, plus arts and cultural organisation invited to participate

Local Partners

Byron Council to pull $1million investment from Westpac

In a shock move against the Adani coal mine, the mayor says 'Byron Shire Council, like its community, wishes to part of the solution, not the problem'.

Patti Smith: the mother of punk gave Jim Morrison his wings

Patti Smith at Bluesfest 2017 in Byron Bay.

One of the most exhilarating performances in recent Blues history

Bluesfest Day 4: The day we go it on at Santana's show

Santana performs at the Crossroad Stage at Bluesfest 2017.

He was right, the Latin fever touched many during his show

UPDATED: Patti Smith donates large sum for flood recovery

Patti Smith at Bluesfest 2017 in Byron Bay.

The artist performed two shows at Bluesfest 2017

Logies 2017: Samuel Johnson chokes back tears as he wins Gold

Samuel Johnson named Gold Logie Winner of the 59th Annual TV Week Gold Logie Awards

Logies 2017: Who's taken the coveted gongs?

Kerri-Anne Kennerley poses with the Hall Of Fame Logie Award.

Award winners from Australian television industry's night of nights

Logies 2017: Samuel Johnson dedicates award to sister Connie

Samuel Johnson wins Best Actor at 2017 Logies.

'My sister is succumbing to the perils of cancer': Samuel Johnson

Logies 2017: Dave Hughes roasts Channel Seven CEO

Dave Hughes hosts opens the 2017 Logies.

Hughes sends shockwaves through Logies audience

Logies 2017: Stars are dazzling as the night begins

Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinnson hit the red carpet.

Melbourne's rolled out the red carpet for tonight's Logie Awards

Logies 2017: Karl stays sober to keep his body a temple

After famously being accused of being a little worse for wear at previous Logies, Karl Stefanovic reckons he is staying sober because his "body is a temple".

He's laying off the booze because his body is a temple, he said.

Logies 2017: She's in white but they aren't in jackets

She's still claiming ownership of white, apparently.

What dodgy real estate ads really mean

This dilapidated house was described as an ‘Edwardian timber home, open to your imagination’. That’s a nice way of putting it.

Real estate writing is just outsourced lying, says one writer

SOLD: Iconic M'boro pub set to be transformed

Shane Muller from Maryborough Motorcycles will be opening up a showroom and café at the Shamrock Hotel.

The Shamrock Hotel is set to be transformed in the next two months.

Want to own iconic North Coast pub?

The Beach Hotel, Byron Bay.

This rare piece of Byron Bay is now looking for a new owner

Coast developer looks to prime real estate's future

MANY OPTIONS: Sunshine Coast developer Graeme Juniper is considering what to do with a prime piece of real estate he owns on Radical Bay on Magnetic Island, near Townsville.

Radical Bay is World Environment Heritage-listed.

This small box of a unit just sold for $1 million

Elizabeth Bay unit has charming views to Sydney Heads.

If this doesn't scream 'housing bubble', nothing does.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!