First Look: 2012 Ferrari 458 Spider

By Brandon Turkus

August 24, 2011

It’s safe to say that everyone in the Winding Road offices likes the Ferrari 458 Italia quite a lot. When we drove it last year, more than one staffer came back to the office with a slack-jawed look of awe on their face. Now Ferrari has gone and made the 458 even better. By taking a can-opener to the roof, and slotting in a retractable tin-top, the crew from Maranello have created the 458 Spider.
Claiming it’s the first mid-engined retractable hardtop (a claim we don’t dare refute), the Spider promises an even more visceral experience than the already awesome Italia. Power remains the same, thanks to the same 4.5-liter V-8 that’s found in the standard 458. That means 562 horsepower is distributed to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The aluminum top only adds 25 kilograms (55 pounds) of weight to the 458, and can be lowered in 14 seconds. Thanks to some Ferrari magic, structural rigidity remains the same, regardless of top position.
The 458 Spider will see an official debut at September’s Frankfurt Auto Show. In the meantime, join us in staring at that beautiful rear three-quarter shot.
The new Ferrari 458 Spider: the world’s first mid-rear engined berlinetta equipped with a retractable hard top debuts at the Frankfurt Motor Show
Maranello, 23rd August 2011 – The new 458 Spider joins the 458 Italia, widening the range of Ferrari’s mid-rear engined V8s and offering the same uncompromising technological solutions,handling and performance in a refined open-top configuration. It is equipped with a Ferrari patented, fully retractable hard top, a world first for a sports car with this lay-out.
The 458 Spider is powered by Ferrari’s naturally-aspirated, direct-injection 4.5 litre V8 which was nominated as the 2011 International Engine of the Year for its engineering excellence in terms of driveability, performance, economy and refinement. The power is transferred to the road by Ferrari’s class-leading dual-clutch F1 paddle-shift transmission through the sophisticated E-Diff, itself integrated with the F1-Trac traction control and high-performance ABS for maximum handling dynamics.
Certain of the car’s features, such as its accelerator pedal mapping and the damping of the multilink suspension, have been calibrated to guarantee maximum sportiness and absolute driving pleasure with the top down, in line with Maranello’s exclusive spider tradition. Even the engine soundtrack has been honed to ensure that the car’s occupants are completely captivated by the drop-top driving experience.
Entirely in aluminium, the hard-top solution adopted for the 458 Spider offers a number of advantages over the traditional folding soft-top, including a reduction of 25 kg in weight and a deployment time of just 14 seconds. Fully integrated into the styling of the car, the hard-top was engineered to fit neatly ahead of the engine bay without compromising aerodynamics or the performance of the car. The small space needed to house the roof enables the designers to include a generous rear bench for luggage behind the seats.
The rear of the car is characterised by innovative forms with the buttresses designed to optimise the flow of air to the engine intakes and the clutch and gearbox oil radiators. For maximum comfort whilst driving top down the 458 Spider features a generously-sized adjustable electric wind stop. The design was perfected to slow and diffuse the air in the cockpit, enabling normal conversation to be held even at speeds over 200 km/h.
New technical solutions adopted for the chassis guarantee identical levels of structural rigidity with the roof up or down. The result is a car that is truly exciting to drive, blending extreme performance with the responsiveness that has always characterised Ferrari’s open-top berlinettas.
458 Spider technical specifications
Length 4527 mm (178.2 in.)
Width 1937 mm (76.3 in.)
Height 1211 mm (47.7 in.)
Wheelbase 2650 mm (104.3 in.)
Dry weight 1430 kg (3153 lbs)*
Weight/power ratio 2.51 kg/CV (7.42 lbs/kW)
Weight distribution fr/r 42%/58%
Type 90° V8
Displacement 4499 cc (274.5 cu in.)
Maximum power 570 CV (425 kW)** @ 9000 rpm
Maximum torque 540 Nm (398 lbs/ft) @ 6000 rpm
Specific power output 127 CV/l
Compression ratio 12.5:1
Front 235/35 ZR20 8.5”
Rear 295/35 ZR20 10.5”
Maximum speed >320 km/h (>198 mph)
0-100 km/h <3.5 s
Fuel consumption + emissions
Fuel consumption*** 11.8 l/100 km
Emissions*** 275 g CO2/km
Dual-clutch, 7-speed F1
E-Diff3, F1-Trac, high-performance ABS
* With forged wheels and Racing seats
** Including 5 CV of ram effect
*** Combined cycle with HELE system (ECE+EUDC)