Ferrari 458 Spider review

Our Rating: 
2012 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

Stunning Ferrari 458 Spider offers performance and handling of 458 Italia Coupe but adds wind in hair thrills

Awesome performance, stunning exhaust note, involving handling
Big price hike over coupe, long waiting list

The latest in a long line of exclusive convertible sports cars created by the legendary Italian manufacturer, the Ferrari 458 Spider is taking the fight to the Mercedes SLS Roadster and Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet. It uses the same high-revving 562bhp 4.5-litre V8 engine as the sensational 458 Italia, and hurtles from 0-62mph in just 3.4 seconds before reaching an incredible top speed of 198mph. The unique two-part aluminium roof folds in just 14 seconds, while to ensure buffeting is kept to a minimum the glass rear screen doubles as a windbreak.

Our choice: Ferrari 458 Spider

Engines, performance and drive


Getting behind the wheel of the Ferrari 458 Spider is a special experience. Extra body strengthening means it’s 50kg heavier than the coupe, but it feels every bit as fast and corners with the same agility and responsiveness. Grip levels are huge, there’s loads of feel through the controls and using the Manettino dial on the wheel you can tailor the throttle, gearshift and dampers. Only very rough surfaces upset the ride and cause a tiny shimmer of movement around the windscreen, but the overall dynamic compromise is all but non-existent. Plus, with the roof folded, thanks to retuned exhausts, the aural treats of the sensational V8 engine are even more glorious.

MPG, CO2 and running costs


The Ferrari 458 Spider is a very expensive car, but with an 18-month waiting list it’s clearly worth every penny to those lucky enough to order one. There’s a huge range of personalisation, and most customers specify several thousand pounds worth of bespoke options, although ceramic brakes, the dual-clutch transmission and adaptive dampers are standard. The ownership experience is good, too - Ferrari includes free servicing for seven years in the price of the car and it comes with a four-year warranty. Sure to reduce fuel bills is the optional HELE High Emotion Low Emission stop-start system, which drops CO2 emissions from 307g/km to 275g/km.

Interior, design and technology


Neatly designed around its folding aluminium lid, the Ferrari 458 Spider looks every bit as good as the Italia coupe. Bulges in the snug fitting roof blend into sharp buttresses, which then flow downward towards the delicately designed rear end. But it’s the attraction of open-air motoring that really makes this Ferrari such a tantalising prospect, and the 458 doesn’t take long to transform. The roof folds backwards in just 14 seconds, slotting underneath a panel that rises up ahead of the engine cover. About the only negative is that the roof mechanism robs the 458 of its wonderful see-through engine cover.

Practicality, comfort and boot space


A large percentage of Ferrari 458 Spider customers use their car every day - far more than the 458 Italia - so it’s no surprise that the Spider is just as practical as the coupe. There’s a small but deep boot in the nose, while behind the rear seats there’s a useful luggage shelf, that’s actually bigger than in the coupe. Ferrari sells custom-made luggage kits to fit both areas. A smartly laid out cabin and easy to operate stereo and heater controls help the day-to-day usability, and once you're used to the button-heavy wheel, all the major controls are fingertip close.

Reliability and Safety


The steering wheel-mounted Manettino dial has five different stability control settings allowing the car's behaviour to be tailored to road conditions and driver ability. Hi-tech ceramic brakes are standard fit and they deliver impressive stopping power, while the cabin benefits from a full complement of airbags. The buttresses behind the cabin are structural and act as roll over protection. A beefed up underfloor means that the roof isn’t structural, so the 458 Spider is as strong roof up or down. Build quality is very impressive, and a four-year warranty is a mark of Ferrari’s confidence in the 458’s reliability.

Last updated: 5 May, 2012