Road testing the Ferrari F8 Spider, a convertible to satiate your need for speed
With over 700hp at your disposal, the car can get you from 0 to 100 in just 2.9 seconds
You can’t build a more single-minded car than a mid-engined sports coupe that is designed to be nothing but fast and nimble, often at the expense of comfort and practicality. Then the marketing team asks for a convertible and out goes body strength and structural rigidity, and on come the kilos to stabilise it all. Convertibles usually annoy engineers as it forces them to compromise on their one-trick pony.
But then Ferrari gives us the F8 Spider.
Knowing that, as sure as night follows day, a convertible version of the F8 Tributo Berlinetta would be needed, the team started work on both so that when asked, they had a no-compromise performance solution already in the pipeline.
There’s still a kerb weight premium of 70 kilograms over the Berlinetta coupe, but it’s almost insignificant when you consider it has an insane 720hp worth of twin-turbocharged, 3.9-litre V8 sitting behind your head. It should also be noted that its dry weight figure of 1,400kg is 20kg lighter than the predecessor 488 Spider.
The F8 Spider’s platform dates back to the 458 and replaces the 488 Spider, offering all the comforts and then some of the 488, but with the performance of the almighty, limited-build Pista that loaned many of its performance internals to the new F8 range.
The new engine carries over the Pista’s titanium conrods, turbocharger turbine wheels, crankshaft and flywheel, as well as Inconel exhausts and manifolds that help reduce inertia by 17 per cent, save 18kg and deliver an extra 50hp over the 488.
It’s an absolute belter of an engine that has won 15 awards in the past five years, including International Engine of the Year for four years in succession, so even if you have the roof up, you can still drop the rear window and soak in the aural delights as it spins far too freely to its 8,000rpm redline.
Flick the paddle shift of the seven-speed automatic transmission back a cog, press the throttle and, with more than over 700hp at your disposal, it’s ridiculously fast, offering an insatiable surge of mid-range performance as its 770Nm of torque kicks in from 3,250rpm while delivering absolutely zero turbo lag.
Ferrari says it will get to 100kph in just 2.9 seconds, pass through the 200kph mark in 8.2 seconds and max out at 340kph.
Using Ferrari’s Variable Boost Management, which progressively increases torque to eliminate the lag, it delivers it all the moment the right foot is planted regardless of what gear you’re in. The changes are lightning quick and auto blips on the down-changes cough out an explosive crack from the exhausts at the same time.
The F8 Spider still has that delightful medium-to-light and rapid Ferrari steering that provides the sensation of a mid-engined supercar that sits low and planted and very much on the nose during cornering.
Helping it stick to the road is decades of Ferrari’s Formula One experience, using some clever aerodynamic aids such as an S-duct that was banned in F1 a few years ago, but found its way on to the 488 Pista and is now on the F8. Essentially, it’s the big scoop in the nose that tidies up the airflow at the front and increases downforce over the front axle.
Using lessons learnt from both the Pista and the 488 Challenge race car, the radiators housed in the nose have been repackaged to allow room for the new front diffusers, which provide a further 25 per cent of downforce to the overall package.
With the UAE’s winter-sun weather seemingly made for convertible driving at the moment, all you need to do to get some sun on the shoulders is press a single button in the centre console at up to 45kph, and the rear alloy cover, with its twin “flying buttresses”, rises to let the two-piece alloy lid spin 180 degrees before lowering and locking into place in only 14 seconds.
With the lid down and in cruise mode, the F8 Spider’s creature comforts came into play, including a six-speaker audio system as well as Bluetooth phone and streaming audio. Standard features include a pair of LCD monitors and an integrated navigation system with a voice-activation feature. The list of options includes a seven-inch touchscreen and while Apple CarPlay is offered, Android Auto is still on the way.
The F8 Spider could go down as one of the great mid-engined Ferraris as the famed Italian marque is slowly shifting from its trademark four round tail lights in favour of more rectangle units previewed on the coming SF90, and could also be the last non-electrified V8 Ferrari as the Prancing Horse adopts hybrid technology with the next generation.
For collectors, I have a feeling this will definitely be one to keep.
Updated: January 13, 2021 02:52 PM