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Ferrari 458 Spider to cost $590,000

Deliveries of Ferrari 458 Spider folding hard-top to commence mid-year from $590k

Ferrari logo14 Mar 2012

FERRARI’S Australian importer has announced a $590,000 starting price for the 458 Spider, ahead of the commencement of local deliveries in the middle of this year.

Billed as the world’s first mid-engined supercar with a folding hard-top roof, the Spider is a successor to the open-roofed F430 and will command a premium of $63,050 over the 458 Italia coupe ($526,950) upon which it is based.

Australian orders are coming thick and fast – approximately the first 18 months of allocation are already spoken for, according to the Italian marque’s Australian importer European Automotive Imports (EAI).

Full local details were revealed today at a private showing of the car ahead of its public debut at this weekend’s Australian F1 Grand Prix, where it will lead a parade of Ferraris both old and new as the Italian brand celebrates its 60th anniversary in Australia.

The headline act is a patented lightweight aluminium roof that is claimed to weigh 25kg less than a similar fabric soft-top and folds into a small compartment mounted ahead of the engine bay.

34 center imageSaid to be almost a decade in development – we saw preliminary computer-generated design imagery dating back to 2004 – the roof can fully open or close in a rapid 14 seconds and tucks away neatly enough to not impinge on the car’s aerodynamics.

When folded, the roof takes up just 100 litres of space – a fraction of the space taken up by similar folding hard-tops – thanks to its clever two-piece design, while a rear bench behind the two front seats can even house a golf bag.

The two-piece roof design incorporates fixed twin rear buttresses, which act as roll-bars and bookend the electrically operated glass wind blocker that is said to keep the cabin quiet enough to allow normal conversation levels with the top down at 200km/h.

The drop-top design gives rise to slightly different rear styling from the Italia too, including smaller and squarer rear and side windows and a more aggressive engine cover replete with cooling grilles and a redesigned intake.

The rear wind stop can also be lowered with the roof up, giving the driver a better chance to absorb the sound of the screaming 4.5-litre V8 engine shared with the Italia.

The direct-injected fire-breather produces maximum power of 419kW at a sky-high 9000rpm, along with peak torque of 540Nm at 6000rpm, and includes the fuel-saving HELE technologies first introduced here on the California as standard.

This system combines an idle-stop system with ‘intelligent’ control of the engine fans, fuel pump and air-conditioning compressor, plus a more adaptive version of the seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual paddle-shift transmission.

Ferrari claims fuel consumption of 11.8 litres per 100km and carbon emissions of 275 grams per kilometre.

The top speed of 320km/h and zero to 100km/h sprint time of 3.4 seconds are identical to the fixed-roof Italia, while the Spider’s dry weight of 1430kg is only 50kg heavier.

The Spider also gets revised accelerator pedal mapping and damping for its multi-link suspension, while the tweaked engine intake and exhaust system gives the open-topped variant its own exclusive engine note.

Ferrari says the all-aluminium chassis offers identical levels of structural rigidity with the roof up or down. The design includes five alloys for extruded components, three for panels and two for castings, plus reinforced sills and the aforementioned buttresses, and complies with all new car safety norms until 2020.

The 458 tops its F430 Spider predecessor in every technical department, offering more power (+50kW) and torque (+75Nm), less weight (-20kg), greater better body rigidity and aerodynamics, a higher top speed (+10km/h), quicker throttle response and a shorter stopping distance (-2.3m).

EAI projects the Spider will account for around half of total 458 sales, with the other half being the fixed-roof Italia. Around 60 per cent of Spider customers will be repeat Ferrari buyers.

Interestingly, research suggests Spider drivers actually use their car more on a daily basis than Italia owners do.

EAI general manager Kevin Wall predicts between 120 and 140 total Ferrari sales in Australia in 2012, the majority of which will be 458s, along with around 50 Californias and a dozen FF flagships.

Last year saw 134 Ferraris find homes in Australia, representing a significant slice of the total global production of around 7000 cars.

Despite the growth of premium vehicles in developing markets – particularly in Asia – the brand said that tempered projections in the economically challenged European zone would see it retain the balance between demand and its desire to retain exclusive.

The Geneva show earlier this month saw the public reveal for the 599-replacing F12 Berlinetta, which will become the Ferrari flagship when it hits our shores from early 2013.

EAI public relations manager Edward Rowe could not confirm specific order details, but told GoAuto there have already been a number of “expressions of interest” in the 544kW V12 supercar from well-heeled Australians.

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