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Future models - Ferrari - 458 Spider

Frankfurt show: Ferrari set to air 458 Spider

World-first hard-top for mid-engine Ferrari 458 Spider to be unfolded at Frankfurt

Ferrari logo23 Aug 2011

By RON HAMMERTON

AUSTRALIAN buyers are already queuing for Ferrari’s latest drop-top, the 458 Spider – billed as the world’s first mid-engined supercar with a folding hard-top.

To be unveiled at next month’s Frankfurt motor show, the V8-powered Spider is scheduled to arrive in Australia and New Zealand towards the end of 2012 when it will join its 458 Italia coupe counterpart that went on sale in Australia last year.

Pricing, final specifications and production volumes have yet to be confirmed for Australia, but that has not deterred potential buyers from registering their interest with Ferrari importer European Automotive Imports (EAI).

EAI spokesman Edward Rowe said expressions of interest from potential buyers had reached double figures in Sydney alone, with many owners of the previous 430 Spider looking to step up to the latest topless V8 Ferrari ‘berlinetta’.

“As always with Ferraris, it will be a matter of allocation from the factory,” he said. “We always have a waiting list with any new Ferrari.”

The Prancing Horse brand today released five photographs of the Spider with the roof down, along with basic details of its newest addition that confirms the 25kg aluminium retractable hard-top will tuck away between the engine and the two-seat cockpit.

34 center imageThe company says the patented roof deploys in 14 seconds, and is so compact that it still leaves space behind the seats for some luggage.

The folding hard-top is not the first in the Ferrari range, with that honour going to the entry level front-engined California convertible that gained an electric-powered, boot-stowed roof when it arrived in Australian showrooms in mid-2009.

With the roof down, the 458 Spider driver can raise a “generously-sized” electric-powered wind blocker to cut turbulence in the cabin and, according to Ferrari, make conversation possible at more than 200km/h.

The rear deck of the car displays twin race-style aerodynamic pods behind the driver and passenger seats, which will make it interesting to see how they fit when the roof is raised, come Frankfurt.

The company says the “buttresses” are designed to optimise the flow of air to the engine intakes, as well as the clutch and gearbox oil radiators, which can be seen tucked under the rear lip spoiler.

Ferrari claims a 3.4-second acceleration time from zero to 100km/h – the same as the coupe version, despite a 50kg weight gain (in dry weight format), to 1430kg. Top speed is 320km/h, presumably with the top up.

The Spider is powered by the same high-revving natural-breathing 425kW 4.5-litre V8 as the coupe, achieving peak power at 9000rpm and 540Nm of torque at 6000rpm.

This direct-injection engine was new with the 458 when it was introduced last year, gaining the Italian sportscar-maker the ‘best performance engine’ gong in the recently announced International Engine of the Year awards.

The Spider also carries over the seven-speed dual-clutch ‘F1’ paddle-shift automated gearbox, although no gearings have been revealed.

Ferrari says some of the Spider’s features will be unique, singling out the accelerator pedal mapping and the multi-link suspension damping as examples of recalibrated controls to suit the Spider’s driving characteristics.

“Even the engine soundtrack has been honed to ensure that the car’s occupants are completely captivated by the drop-top driving experience,” Ferrari says in its media release from Marinello.

Ferrari says the 458 Spider’s chassis has new technical solutions that guarantee identical levels of structural rigidity with the roof up or down, although there was no comparison between the coupe and Spider in this regard.

The arrival of the Spider will bring to five the number of models offered by Ferrari in Australia.

Although pricing will not be confirmed until the middle of next year, potential buyers can expect the Spider to command a significant premium over the Italia.

In 2009, the 430 Spider – which had a folding soft-top – cost $38,800 more than the 430 coupe, reflecting a 9.0 per cent premium.

The 458 Italia that replaced the 430 last year is priced at $526,950 (plus on-roads).

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