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Riding the wind

25 settembre 2019

Chris Rees

The Ferrari F8 Spider provides uncompromising driving pleasure, plus an adrenaline rush from its racing sound

It may seem to be a logical progression of the Ferrari model range, but there is nevertheless something quite magical about the new Ferrari F8 Spider. With an impressive pedigree dating back to the 308 GTS in 1977, this latest Ferrari open-roof V8 is less extreme than the 488 Pista Spider but sportier than the 488 Spider. Planned right from the beginning of the F8 programme, its development went hand-in-hand with the F8 Tributo coupé.

"The V8 mid-engined spider has always been one of the pillars of the Ferrari product line-up”, explains Enrico Galliera, Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer. “This new model is very much in the tradition of Ferrari, with spider following coupé. The spider is aimed at a different type of client, one who is looking for extreme performance and uncompromising driving pleasure, which the mid-rear-engine layout delivers, but who specifically wants the experience of driving with an open roof”.

As with the new Ferrari 812 GTS, clients can experience the presence of the engine in a much more intimate way. And in the case of the F8, that really is quite some engine. The F8's 3.9-litre V8 twin-turbo powerplant which is shared with the F8 Tributo has a power output of 720cv, truly exceptional for this class. This year it collected the International Engine of the Year Award for the fourth successive year, coming on the back of last year's Best of the Best Award for the previous 20 years. That engineering masterpiece has now been mapped for the new F8 Spider.

An innovative system of channels transfers this exceptional sound from the exhaust system right up next to the cabin. This new F8 Spider is all about pure driving performance. Whereas the V12 engine of the 812 GTS provides a searing, high-revving experience, the V8 turbo of the F8 Spider delivers a real, immediate kick: extreme acceleration without turbo lag. In other words, it's all about maximum performance from the very moment you press the accelerator. It has the crisp response you'd expect of a non-turbo engine but it also has deeply impressive turbo-fed torque right across the rev range.

In terms of the retractable hard top, the development team at Ferrari faced no real issues with aero-acoustic comfort, nor with the mechanism of the roof, since both of these important aspects had already been well proven in the outgoing 488 Spider, from which the system is derived. "We reached such a high level of excellence and execution with this roof that it could be happily used in the F8 Spider, carefully adapted to suit its new home”, says Chief Technical Officer, Michael Leiters.

The electrically-operated retractable hard top is one of the fastest-acting on the open-top market, needing a mere 14 seconds to deploy itself. It can be operated at a travelling speed of up to 45kmh. And when the roof is open, passengers are cleverly protected from buffeting, by an adjustable wind stop. The F8 Spider is a little heavier than the F8 Tributo, by some 70kg, but this does not have an affect upon performance in any significant way.

The model's top speed, for instance, is identical, so the experience at the helm is equally rewarding whichever version you drive. Compared to the F8 Tributo, the Spider version has even more opportunities for those clients who are keen on customisation, particularly when it comes to carbon-fibre parts.

For instance, it has a carbon-fibre engine cover and tonneau cover, providing yet another good reason why the F8 Spider looks destined to have a unique place in the Ferrari line-up.