Lifting the roof on an Italian stunner
Ferraris can seem awfully slow sometimes. Journey times are just longer than if youâ€™d taken, say, the Ford Fiesta. People want you to rev the car up when youâ€™re stopped at services; others want to chat, take selfies; one lady even kissed the bodywork. It all takes time. And youâ€™ll need plenty of it with the 488 Spider because this is a very beautiful aesthetically pleasing Ferrari, and people react to it.
Part of it is of course the lines, but itâ€™s also the Blu Corsa paintwork, a Â£7000 option that really does work, possibly even more so than the classic red. Okay, weâ€™re talking about the paintwork, perhaps itâ€™s time we stopped admiring it and actually, you know, drove the thing.
The mighty boost
So weâ€™ll stop talking about the looks and talk about the noise as we fire up the 2016 Engine of the Year. The twin-turbo V8 sounds simply glorious and thrilling, a wild combination of crackles, turbo whistle and those eight cylinders giving it everything.
FERRARI 488 SPIDER
Engine: 3.9-litreÂ V8, twin-turbo petrol
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto, rear-wheel drive
0-62mph: 3.0 seconds
Top speed: 203mph
Fuel. economy: 24.8mpg (combined)
CO2 emissions: 260g/km
In motion itâ€™s every bit as amazing as the sound. Ferrari has cracked the holy grail of an engine with immense low-down torque yet one that leaves you yearning to spin the revs up to the 8000rpm redline. As you pile on the revs so the power soars in with astonishing force. This is a mighty engine.
With the roof down, listening to that amazing noise, you are a very happy person. The gearshifts are slick and precise and the whole car starts to carry speed just so quickly. There is a lot to help out on the handling front, quite apart from the superb chassis. Thereâ€™s the astonishing shock absorbers plus Side Slip Control 2, F1-Trac and the E-Diff, all there to help you corner harder and harder.
Thereâ€™s just one little problem.
Weâ€™ve commented before that Ferrari just hasnâ€™t managed to fully overcome the loss of rigidity in its drop-tops. Itâ€™s the same here. Smaller bumps are dealt with admirably but hit a big bump or a series of them mid-corner and youâ€™ll know about it. You can hear the creak in the chassis and actually see the steering column move in your hands as the shudders work through.
Review: Ferrari 488 Spider
Itâ€™s what stops you looking for the wicked edge in the 488 Spider, certainly while youâ€™re on the road rather than a track. Even so, the limits are still extremely high, itâ€™s just that they are there. Which is one reason why you may choose to explore the other side of the car, one which Ferrari says is definitely there.
You can cruise around, chatting to your passenger â€“ your mother perhaps â€“ with some equanimity, even with the roof down. Itâ€™s comfortable, the seats are good, the stereo is excellent should you not wish to hear the engine, and the roof can come up quickly if it starts to rain on your parade.
Attention and adrenaline
All in all this is a mighty fine Ferrari. That engine is so extraordinary at everything it does, while this is one of the best looking Ferraris for some time we think. If you want attention and adrenaline, this is for you. Mind you, a couple of points. It doesnâ€™t have the chassis integrity weâ€™d really want, not like say a McLaren 650S, and we canâ€™t help but note that Ferrari has done that thing it often does.
The 488 Spider has a list price of just over Â£204,000, yet this test vehicle had a final tag of nearly Â£283,000. You can see below how that all added up, but whether that all adds up for you is another question for another day. For now, we think this Ferrari is bellissimo.