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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 colors and accompanied by an inimitable Ferrari engine soundtrack. The RHT, which debuted on the 458 Spider, was a world-first for such a solution on a mid-rear engined car and has rendered traditional soft-tops obsolete as it is not only lighter (- 55lbs) but also provides better protection from noise and the elements.
At the very heart of the car is, of course, the 3.9L turbo-charged V8 which set a new benchmark for this type of architecture. Thanks to a maximum power output of 670 hp and the smooth, progressive torque delivery in higher gears provided by the Variable Torque Management system, the 488 Spider sprints from 0 to 62mph in 3 seconds flat and from 0 to 124mph in 8.7 seconds. These performance figures are accompanied by a throttle response time of just 0.8 seconds which essentially eliminates the turbo lag typical of this kind of engine. In line with Ferrari tradition, the 488 Spider also has its own unique and distinctive soundtrack to reflect its performance.
This is also the most aerodynamically efficient Ferrari Spider ever built, thanks to a series of complex aero solutions. Maranello’s engineers managed to guarantee optimal downforce whilst reducing drag (two normally mutually-exclusive objectives) by developing several innovative devices, including a blown spoiler and an aerodynamic underbody incorporating vortex generators. The 488 Spider’s dynamic behavior 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 control systems which now include an evolved version of Ferrari’s side slip angle control (Side Slip Control 2 – SSC2). Overall, in fact, vehicle response times are 9% more rapid than the previous Spider.
Regardless of the model or its mission, the heart of every Ferrari is its engine which must, of course, deliver the classic Ferrari power unit qualities: blistering performance combined with high revs, razor-sharp responsiveness, powerful pick-up through the rev range and an exhilarating soundtrack. The new V8 featured in the 488 Spider is the Maranello engineers’ latest response to the daily challenge to constantly set new benchmarks of excellence.
This power unit offers the highest performance ever with zero turbo lag and a unique, exhilarating soundtrack. It delivers 670 hp at 8,000 rpm with a specific power output of 172 hp/L – a new record for a road-going Ferrari – maximum torque of 760 Nm in seventh gear and a throttle response time of just 0.8 seconds at 2000 rpm in third gear.
Normally, turbos have a significant impact on throttle response times: turbo lag generally increases with power resulting in response times that can be two to three times longer than in a naturally-aspirated engine. Maranello’s engineers have overcome this obstacle. In fact, although this engine is 100 hp more powerful than the previous Spider power unit, it has a response time of just 0.8 seconds, guaranteeing instant responsiveness to the accelerator which is typical of Ferrari power units.
A whole slew of features contributed to the engine’s exceptional response times. The turbos are on ball-bearing-mounted shafts to reduce friction and the compressor wheels are in TiAl, a low-density titanium-aluminum alloy, which, thanks to its lower inertia, ensures maximum spool-up speed. Additionally, twin-scroll technology directs the exhaust gases from each cylinder through separate scrolls and increases the pressure of the exhaust pulses for maximum power. A special seal on the turbine housing ensures a minimum gap between it and the compressor wheel to increase efficiency.
The V8’s performance is the result of a focus on achieving maximum efficiency across the board. In terms of combustion, this means new high-tumble intake ports specially shaped to optimize the flow coefficient and swirl motion in the combustion chamber for a homogeneous charge even at high revs, combined with 200-bar direct fuel injection. The new V8 also has an ion-sensing system that measures ionizing currents to control ignition timing and adaptively predicts misfires, as well as a multi-spark function that enables the spark advance to be maximized at all revs.
Mechanical efficiency is guaranteed by an oil pump that supplies oil at either high pressure or low pressure, reducing hydraulic power requirements by up to 30% compared to a conventional pump. Cylinder heads with roller finger followers reduce the power absorbed by the valvetrain by 10% at low revs thanks to reduced friction between the valve stems and the tappets and the camshafts and the roller finger follower. The use of the flat-plane crankshaft architecture guarantees maximum compactness, lower mass and helps improve the engine’s internal fluid-dynamics by ensuring equal pulse spacings and thus balance between the cylinders.
Every Ferrari has its own unique and distinctive soundtrack and the 488 Spider is no exception to this rule. The new V8’s soundtrack is seductively full and powerful even at low speeds and increases in volume and clarity as revs rise, underscoring the engine’s exceptional responsiveness, torque and performance. Seductive, but never invasive when the top is dropped thanks to the exhaust headers with longer, equal-length tubing and the flat-plane crankshaft, the sound was further enhanced by an in-depth study of the harmonics and tonality at different engine speeds, another area in which Ferrari has always excelled.
Minimizing drag and maximizing downforce are normally two mutually exclusive objectives in aerodynamics. However, the Prancing Horse’s engineers have excelled themselves once again with the 488 Spider, by reconciling these two goals. The result is an aerodynamic efficiency figure of 1.53, a new record for a Ferrari production spider.
The front of the car is dominated by the central Aero Pillar and an F1-inspired double spoiler. The latter consists of two sections: the top element is designed to work in conjunction with the duct to manage the flow of air going into the radiator, thereby improving its efficiency. The larger, lower section generates suction which pulls the airflow towards the lower part of the underbody, generating downforce.
The Aero Pillar has the job of managing the powerful air flows striking the front of the car and distributing them along both the longitudinal and transverse plane. On the longitudinal plane on the lower section, it accelerates and directs an extremely fast flow to the central underbody, while on the transverse plan on the upper section, it deflects the flow towards the radiator mouth, controlling its expansion to improve the efficiency of the radiating masses.
The 488 Spider has an innovative aerodynamic underbody that incorporates vortex generators, special curved aerodynamic appendages which accelerate the air thereby reducing pressure. The result is that the car’s underbody is “sucked” down to the ground and downforce is higher but drag is not. The front section of the underbody is flat, generating downforce, which pushes the car lower to the ground whilst having the smallest possible impact on the flow arriving at the front strakes.
The large rear diffuser has curved fences that optimize the expansion of the huge amount of air channeled under the car, boosting downforce. They also protect the diffuser’s internal channels from the turbulence generated by the rear wheels, thereby reducing drag.
The rear diffuser features variable flap geometry controlled by a CPU, integrated with other vehicle control systems, which modifies the expansion of the diffuser. Depending on the driving conditions, this adjusts the balance between increased downforce (with flaps closed: in corners and under braking) and drag reduction (with flaps open: on straights and under acceleration).
The blown spoiler is a new Ferrari-patented solution. Air enters an intake at the base of the rear screen and exits via the bumper. This geometry enables the surface taking the aerodynamic load to have a more pronounced concave curvature which, in turn, increases the upward deflection of the flow, thus boosting downforce. This solution avoids having to extend the height of the rear spoiler and thus helps keep drag low.
The base bleed air intakes on the car’s sides are divided by a central flap. The flow over the upper part of the flap, which is also used for the engine air intake, exits from the tail area to reduce the drag caused by the low-pressure wake directly behind the car. The effect is created by the airflow exiting under pressure at the rear which energizes the wake that forms at the end of the car’s tail, moving it further from the tail where it thus interferes less with the car’s aerodynamics. The flow from the lower part of the intake leads the intercoolers to cool the intake charge.
Clearly, the choice of a rigid hardtop was essential to the character of the new Ferrari, guaranteeing a significant improvement in in-car comfort. With the roof in place, in fact, occupants enjoy better protection from the elements and improved sound insulation. In addition, the roof will not deform due to the high-pressure field created at high speeds. Traditional hardtops, however, tend to be heavy, bulky and dilute the look and design of a car. In fact, a classic hardtop is stowed as a completely three-dimensional object, not merely the roof itself but also the rear side windows and back window. Its weight is significant and its bulk will effectively compromise the design of the entire rear of the car.
This is why Ferrari chose to use the RHT on the 488 Spider, a world-first for a mid-rear-engined car when introduced on the 458 Spider.
The whole key to the design was the shifting of the separation line between the car’s body and the roof from its conventional position at the belt-line (occupant shoulder level) to above the B-pillar. This reduced the size of the top and made it more two-dimensional in shape so it could be divided into two parts and stowed on top of the forward section of the engine.
The simplicity of this solution was pivotal to the roof’s speed and harmony of movement, as well as its compactness and aerodynamic efficiency.
The Retractable Hard Top (RHT) unfolds and retracts in a record 14 seconds. Its mechanism is seamlessly smooth, giving the impression that its two sections simultaneously rotate. The RHT can deploy or retract when the car is moving.
The retracted roof only takes up 100 litres of space rather than the 150-200 litres required to stow a conventional hardtop. This incredibly sleek solution is absolutely vital to the aerodynamics and styling of the whole rear of the car.
It is also very light thanks to the use of aluminium and an extremely simple mechanism. The result is a saving of approximately 88lbs on a traditional hard- top solution and around 55lbs on a soft-top. In addition, the Ferrari 488 Spider also features a glass electric rear window which can be adjusted to any of three positions regardless of whether the roof is up or down. This ensures superb in-cabin comfort even at high speeds when the top is dropped. In fact, occupants can easily carry on a normal conversation at speeds of over 124mph.
Designed around the whole retractable hard top concept, the 488 Spider has a spaceframe chassis made of 11 different aluminium alloys combined with other noble metals such as magnesium, each one used in a highly specific way. This yields the same torsional rigidity and beams stiffness figures as the coupé, improving the chassis’ performance by 23% over that of its predecessor. Another extraordinary achievement, given that the roof is a structural element, which comes thanks to the skills developed by the Scaglietti Centre of Excellence which specialises in crafting aluminium.
The 488 Spider’s set-up was adapted to meet the typical demands of Spider driving and use. Its dynamic behaviour is effortless on even the most challenging roads, underscoring the feeling of ease in driving on the limit. Overall, response times are 9% more rapid than the previous Spider without any compromise whatsoever being made on comfort
This is the result of the unique specialist vehicle dynamics knowledge Ferrari has built up in competition and which led to the adoption of a sophisticated simulator, similar to the one used by the Formula 1 team, which gave the engineers instant feedback from the test-drivers long before the first prototype was physically built.
Specific gear ratios match the engine’s immense torque output and, combined with Variable Torque Management, deliver progressively greater torque values in higher gears, thereby optimising acceleration and the exhilaration factor for the driver and passenger.
The evolved version of Ferrari’s side slip angle control system (SSC2) is more precise and less invasive. Analysing different vehicle parameters, it provides 12% faster longitudinal acceleration out of corners than the 458 Spider. Aside from integrating with the car’s F1-Trac and E-Diff, the SSC2 now also controls the active dampers which render the car’s dynamic behaviour even flatter and more stable during complex manoeuvres.
The 488 Spider’s excellent dynamics are due in part also to the SCM 3 magnetorheological damping system which has a faster ECU to modify the magnetic field in the dampers, as well as new Ferrari-patented software that also communicates with three new sensors on the car body. The dampers have new piston rods to reduce friction for more efficient control which translates into a feeling of greater body control with better bump absorption.
The latest evolution of the ESP guarantees even more efficient ABS intervention in low-grip situations. This was made possible by the faster calculation and response speeds (-8%) delivered by new hardware and rewritten software codes.
Thanks to the new Brembo Extreme Design braking system, the 488 Spider’s stopping distances are 9% shorter than the previous model. Derived from the LaFerrari, the brakes also have new callipers that allow optimal cooling under extreme driving. They also feature new materials that ensure they reach optimal operating temperature faster and are more durable.
The 488 Spider sports new, lighter 20″ rims. Forged 20″ wheels are available to order and shave a further 17lbs off the car’s weight.
Exterior design is fundamental to the character of any Ferrari but the 488 Spider, designed by the Ferrari Design Centre, features radical new styling honed around its aerodynamic requirements which brilliantly reflects the drop-top driving pleasure focus of its sportiness and performance.
The 488 has classic Ferrari mid-rear-engined sports car proportions: a short muscular front wing into which the bumper is wedged that lends the whole front of the car a sense of power and speed, and immediately draws the eye to flanks featuring the new side air intakes for the intercoolers. The motif of the subtle crease line that forms the scallops on the door leading to the intakes is a nod to the 308 GTB.
The front of the car is dominated by a large grille opening and two support pylons for the aerodynamic double spoiler which channels air to the two radiators and generates suction that pulls air towards the central aero section of the underbody.
The bonnet has a pronounced, raised central section and two side channels. These channels have the dual function of making the car look more sporty and channelling the air from the two vents in the bumper which have been skilfully hidden from sight in the front view to keep the lines clean.
The engine cover features longitudinal ribs which generate a three-dimensional, dynamic effect. These ribs are flanked outboard by sculpted mesh grilles to help evacuate engine heat, while the central section between them expands as it drops down into the rear blown spoiler, channelling air into it. The tailpipes are further up the bodywork and separated, to make space for a new aerodynamic diffuser.
The 488 Spider also debuts a new colour designed to enhance its sleek yet muscular forms. The Blu Corsa livery almost seems to meld with the sky above and the metallic particles suspended in the paint lend the bodywork a gloss that underscores its sculptural forms. This metallic blue strikes the perfect balance between unostentatious sportiness and contemporary elegance. Its unusual iridescent effect is thanks to the two-layer paintwork.
The 488 Spider’s cockpit was designed to underscore Ferrari’s Formula 1- inspired philosophy of creating a seamless relationship between driver and car: the commands not clustered on the steering wheel are on the wraparound satellite pods which are angled directly towards the driver. The new lighter, sleeker, horizontally more compact dashboard also curves around the cockpit and features ultra-sporty air vents.
The overall result is an effortless marriage of innovative volumes and compact, functional forms. The design references typical Ferrari traits, such as the clear separation between dashboard and tunnel, the multifunctional steering wheel, the control bridge on the tunnel. All beautifully handcrafted with materials and trim that are both elegant and sporty, with a strong emphasis on creating functional spaces for stowing all the usual items with which people travel.
The central tunnel is sleek, dynamic, and functional at the same time. The characteristic longitudinal F1 bridge has become a Prancing Horse design icon and, in practical terms, frees up plenty of storage space for small items while the main function buttons are now in a more ergonomic position. Great attention was also lavished on the odds and ends compartments which are now of a benchmark size for the segment. This is particularly the case with the closable one on the tunnel which allows small items to be hidden from prying eyes when the car is parked with the roof down.
The 488 Spider’s new door panels are the result of meticulous work that centered around quality and attention to detail. They are now softer to the touch and the armrest is more ergonomic. The design is very clean and sporty while the buttons are very easy to reach.
Great thought also went into the new seats which have fixed headrests. They are even lighter and offer extremely high containment while being very comfortable, thanks to new profiles and padding designed for long journeys.
Aside from integrated Apple Carplay, the 488 Spider also boasts a new Sport version of the infotainment system with the display still part of the instrument cluster in the driver’s line of sight, following the cockpit’s philosophy of ergonomic and aesthetic integration with the various functionalities immediately to hand.
The 488 Spider adopts the new keyless start thanks to a chip that communicates wirelessly with the car’s ECU. The car can thus be started or turned off by simply pressing the “Start/Stop Engine” button on the steering wheel with the key in the driver’s pocket or in the special storage area on the tunnel.
|Type||V8 - 90° Turbo – Dry Sump|
|Maximum Power||670 cv (492 kW) @ 8000 rpm|
|Specific power output||172 cv/l (2,07 kW/cu in)|
|Maximum torque||760 Nm (561 lb ft) @ 6750 rpm|
|Maximum revs||8000 rpm|
|DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT|
|Length||4568 mm (179.8 in)|
|Width||1952 mm (76.9 in)|
|Height||1211 mm (47.7 in)|
|Wheelbase||2650 mm (104.3 in)|
|Front Track||1679 mm (66.1 in)|
|Rear Track||1647 mm (64.8 in)|
|Dry Weight||1420 kg (3020 lb)|
|Kerb Weight||1525 kg (3362 lb)|
|Weight Distribution||41.5% front – 58.5% rear|
|Fuel Tank||22.7 US gallon - 3.8 reserve|