The open-air Ferrari F8 Spider mounts a solid case for turbocharged V8 performance, albeit without the screaming sound some may expect.
Powering out of a slow corner in third gear in the latest Ferrari V8 convertible is enough to make you all but forget about the debate between turbos and natural aspiration.
The almighty mid-rev pull from the 3.9-litre twin turbo V8 in the F8 Spider – the drop-top version of the F8 Tributo – makes for exhilarating acceleration. Plucking fourth gear via the long fixed shift paddles behind the F1-inspired steering wheel does little to slow progress. That it doesn’t show any sign of giving up as it approaches 8000rpm is testament to one of the truly great engines of the modern era. Yes, it’s quick, able to blast to 200km/h in 8.2 seconds.
I’m at Sydney Motorsport Park (formerly Eastern Creek) without the worries of speed cameras to curtail the fun. Which is lucky, because it very quickly becomes apparent that the Ferrari F8 Spider does its best work on the wrong side of Australia’s legal speed limit.
With the V8 mounted behind the two occupants the aural delights of a Ferrari engine are never far away; while the engine sounds muffled and unflustered at low revs, it builds into a husky snarl when you call on more.
It’s a focussed, rorty noise, but it’s no replacement for the wail of old school Ferrari V8s, like that of the 458 that was a precursor to the F8 (along with the 488 they share doors and a roof, among much of their underbody). But the effortless surge across the rev range more than makes up for it.
The F8 may be the modern mainstream Ferrari, but it’s properly supercar quick, outgunning many highly regarded Ferraris of the past. But the F8 Spider is a lot more than an engine, its mid-engine layout providing the foundation for terrific handling. Weight is biased to the rear, helping broad 305mm-wide rear tyres harness than V8 muscle. Front tyres are slimmer, but at 245mm they provide impressive steering precision. Through flowing corners the F8 does its best to flatter, especially when you feed power on.
The complete package
Clever electronics do a phenomenal job of unleashing extra kilowatts as traction becomes available. At one stage the rear-end steps out in an easily controllable slide. While it’d be nice to think it was all my doing, those sophisticated handling aids (6.1 Side Slip Angle Control, for instance) also step in to keep the fun going without any unwanted excursions.
Carbon ceramic brakes are potent, never vaguely showing signs of giving up. They’re a welcome highlight on what is a complete performance package.
Ferrari has employed various weight-saving measures from the track-focused 488 Pista, helping keep the kilos down. At 1555kg the F8 Spider is no featherweight, but there’s the sort of agility and alertness that make a track thrash all the more enjoyable. The F8 Tributo may be about letting more rays in on a sunny weekend, but it’s equally adept at unleashing serious speed.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the hype of the F8. There are classic Ferrari proportions, complemented by modern lines and hints of the classic 308 (famous for its role as the car for Magnum PI) but with powerful curves and race car infusions. It’s a stunning car to look at, the chrome Ferrari badge a fitting fullstop on its rump (you have to pay extra for the Ferrari shields on the front wheel arches).
If there’s one visual downside with the F8 Spider convertible over the F8 Tributo coupe it’s at the back-end. Instead of that lightweight window with an F40-inspired view of the V8 engine, there’s a sculpted cover that doesn’t have the same elegance.
But we’re nitpicking; it is a head-turner from any angle. Even in the engine bay; the V8 is one of the few modern engines that doesn’t drape the sexy metal bits with plastic, instead letting the hard stuff do the modelling. It’d be great to be able to see those red valve covers without having to pull levers.
At $536,888 plus on-road costs the Spider is $52,000 more than the Tributo. It’s a hefty premium to go open air, but in delivering all the driving thrills of the coupe the convertible version of Ferrari’s iconic two-seater mounts a compelling case.
Ferrari F8 Spider Specifications
Price $536,888, plus options and on-road costs Warranty three years or unlimited kilometres Engine 3.9-litre twin turbo V8 Power 530kW at 8000rpm Torque 770Nm at 3250rpm Transmission 7-speed twin-clutch automatic Dimensions 4611mm long; 1979mm wide; 1207mm high; 2650mm wheelbase Spare Tyre Repair Kit Fuel Tank 86 litres Thirst 12.4L/100km 0-100km/h 2.9 seconds 0-200km/h 8.2 seconds
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