The innovative retractable hard top was the key to the styling of the 458 Spider’s exterior. The hard top’s movement and the way in which its two sections fold away into the compartment in front of the engine have resulted in a highly original division of the volumes. The constraints involved in a retractable folding hard top actually provided the inspiration for forms that neatly resolve the problems of its packaging, both from the point of view of the car’s layout and its aerodynamics. While the bonnet and the flanks didn’t require any modification at all, the rear had to be completely redesigned. The hard top is made up of two sections that fold so as to take up very little space and without raising the line of the rear deck. The two panels rotate rearwards separately through 180 degrees, one on top of the other, thus reducing bulk to the minimum. This allowed the designers to create a storage area behind the two seats that is large enough to take a golf bag. The main aerodynamic problem involved with transforming the coupé into a spider involves the fact that there is no rear windscreen to direct and channel air flow towards the rear spoiler to create downforce. Thus, the styling worked carried out by the Ferrari Styling Centre and Pininfarina focused on two central elements: the buttresses, a classic Maranello styling cue, and the engine cover. Their forms were redesigned to tackle the turbulence normally generated by spiders. The buttresses in particular were designed to integrate various Spider functionalities. They first and foremost act as roll-bars: unlike the 430, the passenger protection and reinforcement structures are actually now a part of the buttresses. From an aerodynamic point of view, the tapering volumes of the buttresses, which flow onto the engine cover, actually channel airflow very efficiently towards the rear radiators. The rear scoops are larger than on the coupé and, apart from cooling the oil radiators, they also feed the engine air intakes. The more generous size of the intakes themselves increases the nolder effect thanks to the way the air flow speed slows on the way in and to the greater volume of air affected by that reduced speed. The engine cover features six air vents, whose number and form are a modern twist on a traditional Ferrari styling cue. Between the two buttresses, there is an electric glass window which, as well as being something of a recognisable styling statement for mid-rear-engined Ferraris of the past, is also an effective wind-stop, as already described. One major innovation from the F430 Spider is the fact that the engine is no longer on view. Function-driven design dictated a change was in order, with the focus on sculpting forms rather than ensuring engine visibility, which, in any case, would not have been complete. Furthermore, eliminating the glass was as much an advantage from a weight-saving perspective as the introduction of the retractable aluminium hard top.
The 458 Spider’s cabin is a seamless combination of comfort and elegance. The Ferrari Styling Centre has lavished meticulous attention on both space and ergonomics, as well as on finish and trim as befits the car’s positioning within the range. The 458 Spider retains the 458 Italia’s focus on ensuring the driver feels at the very centre of the car with a Formula 1 cockpit-style driver layout which is designed specifically to minimise the driver’s hand movements for complete concentration and focus on the road at all times. The double curvature roof and seating are also ergonomically designed so that even very tall occupants of over 6 ft 4 in. can be easily and comfortably accommodated. With respect to its coupé sibling, the 458 Spider, however, is a slightly less extreme car, more oriented towards regular weekday driving and for weekend trips with a friend/partner. The interior is simple and there is plenty of luggage stowage space in the front boot and on the rear bench. Bespoke luggage sets are available for each of these and feature a stylish motif inspired by the six air intakes of the engine cover. The front boot has a 58-litre capacity and a suit bag is available that can be put on top of the optional three fitted suitcases. The rear bench can be used to stow a regular-sized golf bag - even one containing longer clubs. The space was created thanks to the redesign of the cross beam which guarantees the chassis’ torsional rigidity and which supports the two structural reinforcements that act as roll-over protection for the cockpit. The structural protection has been cleverly incorporated into the 458 Spider’s styling, thanks to the unique design of the B-pillar buttresses. Two of Ferrari’s bespoke fitted suitcases fit perfectly into the space available behind the seats.
Human Machine Interface
The elimination of the usual indicators stalks and the clustering of controls on the steering wheel further underscores the 458 Spider’s innate connection to the racing world. The fact that the driver can easily reach all of the commands without even loosening his grip on the steering wheel ensures optimal performance in all kinds of driving conditions. This is what Ferrari calls the Human Machine Interface and it really does put the driver in absolute control of his car. To guarantee superbly sporty yet safe driving, the 458 Spider also comes equipped with VDA (Vehicle Dynamic Assistance) which gives the driver moment-to-moment evaluations of the vehicle status and the performance levels it is capable of achieving. Activated when the manettino is in its RACE, CT OFF and ESC OFF settings, VDA makes driving even more exhilarating and safe as it provides a clearer understanding of the conditions most suited to the car at any particular moment. An algorithm estimates the car’s status (brake, engine and tyre temperature) on the basis of the dynamics of certain parameters (lateral and longitudinal acceleration, engine speed, vehicle speed...), indicating the most suitable conditions for the car to the driver.
WARM UP: components need to warm up further;
GO: optimal condition for maximum performance;
OVER: overheating, cooling of components required.
This information is displayed on the lefthand TFT screen while the right-hand display now includes information about navigation, infotainment selection, telephone and virtual tachymeter readouts as well as optional parking camera.