With its roof down, you feel closer to the 458 Spider. The sound starts with a hint of induction noise, grows into a deep bellow, builds into a hard-edged shriek and signals the arrival of the 9,000rpm rev limit with an intense mechanical blare.
You don’t simply get into a 458 and go flat out. There’s a graphic illustration on a display screen that shows engine, brake and tyre temperature. Waiting for the lights to go to green only heightens the sense of anticipation.
Rush to the redline
When they finally light up, I test the waters with a nudge on the throttle. The rev-counter lunges up 1,000rpm. A bit more pressure and the engine responds by opening an exhaust flap, followed by an almost inertia-less journey to the redline on the speedometer. Seriously, this 4.5-litre, naturally aspirated direct-injection V8 is something else. The throttle response is so crisp, the engine is so lusty and power delivery is so linear, it made me wonder why I ever liked turbocharged motors.
The Spider is mechanically unchanged from the Italia – the engine still makes 562bhp, the car gets the same stability and traction control modes as the Italia and Ferrari has left the springs and anti-roll bar unchanged to preserve the terrific steering response, lateral grip and cornering ability of the coupé.
The aluminium roof and its clever folding mechanism adds 50kg and motors from open to shut in just 14 seconds. It is also packaged very efficiently and doesn’t compromise the 458’s aerodynamics with the roof up. There’s even a shelf behind the car’s seats for small luggage.
The downside is that you no longer get to see the engine through a glass cover. The Spider gets a painted metal engine cover with six air extractors.
Anyway, the engine’s time-warp abilities get me to the Italian town of Fornovo before I know it. A glance at the satnav shows a road that looks like a strand of spaghetti draped over a hill. I pull the right paddle and bound to the next corner at a terrifying rate of acceleration.
Lost, but enjoying it
On the way back to Maranello, I discover Autostrada A15 has about six long tunnels. And they’re pretty empty. It’s first, second and third gear redline through them when I realise I’m hopelessly lost and heading away from where I’m supposed to be.
A beep from the dashboard tells me I’m almost out of gas too – there is a price to be paid for all that 9,000rpm debauchery. So, at my self-inflicted seventh-gear, 100kph gait, I find the Spider a competent cruiser as well.
I find a gas station, fill up, hook up with another Spider driven by a fellow journalist and our little rip-snorting convoy demolishes the 165km back to Maranello in the fading evening light.
FERRARI 458 SPIDER
Price: Rs 2.91 crore (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Top speed: 318kph
Kerb weight: 1430kg
Engine: 8 cyls in vee, 4499cc, direct-injection, petrol
Installation: Mid, longitudinal, rear-wheel drive
Compression ratio: 12.5:1
Power: 562bhp at 9000rpm
Torque: 61kgm at 6000rpm
Gearbox: 7-speed, twin-clutch auto
Power to weight: 393bhp per tonne
Tyres: 235/35ZR20 (f) 295/35 ZR20 (r)
Fuel tank: 86 litres
In India, the Spider costs Rs 2.91 crore. It’s worth it. It’s a bit softer than the Coupe, so it’s better suited to our bumps. It allows you the security of a closed metal roof and that special joy of roofless motoring in a mid-engined Ferrari.