Car Review: 2016 Ferrari 488 Spider

“Wind in my hair, Shifting and drifting, Mechanical music, Adrenaline surge…” Rush’s “Red Barchetta” was playing on the stereo, but I couldn’t hear it over the throaty roar of the 660 HP V8!

Company: Ferrari

Product: 488 Spider

Price: $275,000

Description: The Ferrari 488 Spider:
powerful performance and effortless driving for superb drop-top driving pleasure

The Ferrari 488 Spider is the latest chapter in Maranello’s ongoing history of open-top V8 sports cars, a story that started with the targa-top version of the 308 GTB – the immortal 308 GTS – and which ultimately resulted in the full convertible Spider architecture.

Starting with the RHT (Retractable Hard Top) around which the entire car was developed, every area of the 488 Spider has been designed to set new technological benchmarks for the sector. The result is the most powerful and innovative Ferrari Spider ever built, a car that marries the extraordinary prowess of the 488 GTB coupé’s mid-rear V8 with the joy of tackling even the most challenging roads surrounded by nature’s heady aromas and colours and accompanied by an inimitable Ferrari engine soundtrack.

At the very heart of the car is, of course, the 3902cc turbo-charged V8 which set a new benchmark for this type of architecture. Thanks to a maximum power output of 670 CV and smooth, progressive torque delivery in the higher gears by the Variable Torque Management system, the 488 Spider sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in 3 seconds flat and from 0 to 200 km/h in 8.7 seconds.

The 488 Spider’s dynamic behaviour is exceptional with the accent very much on the ease with which it can be driven on the limit. To achieve this engaging handling balance the mechanical set-up was honed in tandem with the electronic systems which now include the evolved version of Ferrari’s side slip angle control system (Side Slip Control 2 – SSC2). Over all, in fact, response times are 9% more rapid than the previous Spider.

Impressions: Right up front I have to say I love my 1993 Tercel, which I bought new and has been a fun-to-drive and highly reliable car. Driving to an event with my iPod on shuffle is one of my favorite parts of race day, and my little Toyota has done a great job.

But when I found out that Matt had worked his magic and finagled me a brand new Ferrari 488 Spider in exchange for a Run Oregon review, like any red-blooded blogger I was ecstatic! With the push of the start button, the 660 HP V8 engine roared to life, and my race commuting experience was changed forever.

I don’t really have to describe much about the acceleration, response, handling, and top speed of a Ferrari. The performance is absolutely world class. It definitely doesn’t supinate nearly as much as the Tercel in the curves. And of course the 488 Spider has no problem taking its place in the historic stable of stunning Italian automotive designs.

But how does the Ferrari behave as a weekly race commuter? For one thing, trunk space is at an absolute minimum – it can barely hold three safety pins, and definitely not four. So I would recommend picking up your packet before race day, in your other car. And don’t even think about using the 488 as a relay vehicle!

The engine serenades the surrounding neighborhood with a thunderously symphonic howl and rumble, so you’ll probably have to postpone your pre-race soundtrack of The Kaiser Chiefs and Deep Purple until you’ve parked and turned off the car at the race site.

I arrived at one race in The Gorge before the race director and volunteers had even shown up!

Take a comb and pin on your number in advance! The automated hard top takes only 14 seconds to deploy and retract, and can be opened and closed at up to 28 mph, so be prepared to enjoy the great outdoors at extreme speeds. To be fair though, the exceptional design keeps the cabin remarkably free of bluster and gusts when the top is down.

You will have to adjust all your carefully memorized trip times to familiar race sites. The first few times I drove to a race in the 488, I arrived at least an hour earlier than I was used to. I quickly learned to put that extra time to good use by driving the course before the start, with mixed results: I suppose it was useful to familiarize myself with the routes, but they went by in such a blur I rarely remembered them. Plus, it made the actually running seem to take MUCH longer than the time it took to drive it!

An unintended consequence of driving the Ferrari to races was that I found myself running much fewer downtown Portland Front Ave. events. Stop-and-go inner city driving didn’t seem as inviting anymore. I discovered I was entering a lot more races in The Gorge and Central and Eastern Oregon, the longer, the more winding, and the more mountainous the roads to get there, the better.

I still love my Tercel, and I still use it for shopping and driving to downtown races, but my new Ferrari is a very welcome addition to my household, and don’t plan on kicking it out of the garage anytime soon!

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