| First Drive | Bologna, Italy | Ferrari 458 Spider |
Model driven: Ferrari 458 Spider
Engine: 4.5-litre V8 petrol
Transmission: seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-door convertible
Rivals: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster, Lamborghini LP 570-4 Gallardo Spyder, Audi R8 V10 Spyder
CO2 emissions: 307g/km
Combined economy: 21.1mpg
Top speed: 198mph
0-62mph: 3.4 seconds
Power: 570bhp at 9,000rpm
Torque: 398lb.ft at 6,000rpm
In the Metal:
Pininfarina was firing on all eight cylinders when the Ferrari 458 Italia was sketched and the Spider retains its drop-dead gorgeous looks thanks to an ingenious folding aluminium roof. The only sacrifice has been the Perspex engine cover but that's hardly a deal breaker.
Inside the leather-lined cabin, the driver is undoubtedly the centre of attention. Everything looks, feels and smells divine and, these days, is properly screwed and glued together. There's a shelf behind the seats, which is handy for an overnight bag, and a smattering of storage bins to keep those speeding fines and court summonses safe.
It's difficult to put into words how a 458 feels on a challenging, twisting road, but trust us, it's as good as it gets. Everything about the car is geared toward giving the driver the greatest possible experience behind the wheel and the Spider loses nothing to the Italia coupé in normal conditions. If anything it's even more intoxicating due to the specially engineered exhaust sound being liberated once the roof is lowered.
On the worst road surfaces there is the faintest hint of scuttle-shake but overall the structure is incredibly stiff and it feels as tight as a snare drum once you pile on the speed - something that takes no effort at all. The magnificent 4.5-litre V8's hard-edged staccato wail isn't all mouth and no trousers, packing a 570bhp punch, redlining at a pulse-quickening 9,000rpm. Numbers such as 198mph and a 0-62 sprint time of just 3.4 seconds mean it's a formidable performer.
Carbon brakes, F1 gearbox technology along with lightning quick steering and throttle response don't make for a relaxing drive - if you want that go for a Ferrari California. This is an out-and-out sports car that makes you feel like a hero. Like some Class A narcotic, once you try it there's no turning back.
What you get for your Money:
Compared to its rivals, and even the hard-topped 458 Italia, this is an expensive car, costing roughly £25,000 more than its tin-top brother. And yet it's worth every single penny because, when you're dropping a quarter of a million on a car (easy to do with a few tasty options), you want the very best.
There's a special exhaust, the F1 transmission has been remapped and the suspension is specific to the Spider too, along with bespoke body panels, so it was never going to be a cheap model.
The roof system is ingenious, comprising of two folding metal sections that retract or rise in just 14 seconds. Two rear buttresses do away with the need for roll-over hoops and lend the Spider beautiful lines with the roof up or down. Ferrari claims this is the first mid-engined car with such a roof and it's superbly engineered, weighing 25kg less than the fabric item fitted to the F430 Spider.
Losing its roof has done nothing to diminish the 458's epic ability to entertain. If anything it's a better car because that nape-tingling engine sound is on tap whenever you want it. Dynamically its losses over the standard car would only be noticeable to full time racing drivers and, as such, the Ferrari 458 Spider enters the pantheon of true greats.