It's faster and more powerful than an Enzo, but that's not the only reason the Ferrari 488 Spider has serious bite Singapore - The 488 is the new turbo Ferrari ain't it... Yep. Earlier this year known tifosi Leow Ju-Len tested the turbo-V8 Ferrari 488 GTB in Maranello and pronounced it ‘expletive-ing expletive-ly good’. But of course he’d say that even if a Lamborghini enthusiast held a knife to his neck.
This is the convertible version we're testing here in Singapore. It turns out that having ‘just’ chicken rice, terrible thunderstorms, horrendous road conditions and traffic jams make not one iota of difference when it comes to proving how good the 488 Spider is.
A turbo means boring soundtrack, crazy torque and more power! Normally, yes. But this is a Ferrari - so let's examine all of these things in turn. First off, yes, lots of power. There's 670hp, more than a Ferrari Enzo (650hp), a crazy 90hp more than the old 458 Spider. It has the highest hp/litre of any Ferrari to date - 172hp/litre. To put this into context, the new Ferrari turbo V8 makes 200bhp more than the BMW M5’s V8 engine while displacing half a litre less (492cc to be exact - 4,395cc versus 3,902cc).
But it sounds boring and doesn't rev, right? Ehhh not really, no. Ferrari said it paid a lot of attention to how the new V8 sounds, with everything from exhaust to sympathetic vibration tuning, and while it still can’t match the scream of the old V8, it’s probably the best-sounding turbo V8 we’ve tested to date. It’s more obviously boomy now, but it’s a lot better than the Porsche Cayman’s transition to forced-induction technology as it really does sing, howl, pop and road like a real Maranello V8 should.
If you’re hungry for revs, you won’t be disappointed either. The V8 makes maximum power at 8,000rpm, which is also its red-line. Compare this to the M5’s engine again which tops out at 7,000rpm, considered high already for a performance turbo, or 7,100rpm for the naturally-aspirated V8 of the Lexus RC F.
But can it tame the wind, like Donald Trump's hair? Ferrari says it’s only 50kg heavier than the coupe (the top is itself 10kg lighter than the 458 Spider’s), while torsional rigidity is claimed to be the same, as are the performance figures. Like its predecessor, the convertible is a folding aluminium hard-top, and it takes 14 seconds to retract/deploy, at speeds of up to 45km/h. But it's also paid lots of attention to aero - F1-esque shapes all around and even an 'illegal' blown spoiiler - and looks beautiful in the process.
So it's the kind of car that'll drag you into the stratosphere, oblivious to your passenger's screams of terrror, no doubt... Actually it's quite civilised. In Sport mode it’s truly no harder to drive than a Toyota. Perhaps even easier if you’re talking about an SUV. There’s little to no noise when creeping along, the dual-clutch box behaves slicker than a Volkswagen’s and the fuelling is spot on too - no hesitation, jerking or lumping about.
There’s E-Diff (electronic rear differential and torque vectoring), F1-Trac (traction control), overall ESP, magnetorheological suspension (SCM-E), Slip Slide Control (SSC, makes you a perfect drifter). But when you’re driving the Spider and no moment do you say to yourself ‘oh here’s XXX system kicking in and saving my butt’, at least on normal roads and leaving the ESP OFF button alone.
In Race mode, and on a set of winding roads, it’s the beautifully-calibrated steering, the controllable torque and the thunderous soundtrack that occupy the front of your consciousness, the sum of the car’s parts add up to something quite more, and the feeling that you’re driving something that’s really quite special even in this day and age.
Ferrari 488 Spider
Engine 3,902cc, 32V, V8, twin-turbo
Power 670bhp at 8000rpm
Torque 760Nm at 6750rpm
Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch
Top Speed 325km/h
0-100kmh 3.0 seconds
Fuel efficiency 11.4L/100km
Price $1,150,000 without COE
Also Consider: McLaren 650 Spyder, Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet
PLG_AUTHORINFOBOX_FRONTEND_AUTHOR: Derryn Wong
Derryn Wong is currently editor-in-chief of CarBuyer and he enjoys probing all aspects of the motoring industry, ranging from bizarre holes in the upholstery to the engineered insanity of the COE system. No, not those kinds of holes.