RAC Cars News


Ferrari 488 Spider UK drive

By raccars Published


Ferrari’s stunning open-top super sports car drives as well as it looks. Incredibly well, then.

Ferrari 488 Spider

● Price: £204,391

● Engine: 3.9-litre V8 twin-turbo

● Power: 670hp

● Gearbox: Seven-speed automatic

● 0-62mph: 3.0 seconds

● Top speed: 203mph

● Fuel economy: 24.7mpg

● CO2: 260g/km

● On sale: Now

Three 2016 Ferrari 488 Spider facts

1: The 488 Spider replaces the Ferrari 458 Spider. The hard-top alternative is called the 488 GTB

2: The 488 Spider costs £20,427 more than the 488 GTB

3: This is the first time Ferrari has installed a turbocharged engine in its mid-engined sports car line. The V8 unit is both more powerful and more economical than the non-turbo V8 it replaces

What is it?

The Ferrari 488 Spider is the famous Italian firm’s latest mid-engined two-seater sports car convertible. Essentially, it’s the open-top version of the 488 GTB, and is the fastest Ferrari convertible there has ever been. Its turbocharged V8 engine produces a whopping 670hp, making it an incredibly potent machine.

At its heart is a blistering 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8. This brand-new powerplant is stupendously fast: 0-62mph takes three seconds dead, and it has enough oomph to make this Ferrari a genuine 200mph machine. It will rush from rest to 124mph in less than nine seconds.

It’s not only the car itself that’s fast. The roof is a retractable hard-top design, which lowers in just 14 seconds. The car is refined when it’s raised, and it is actually lighter than a regular canvass cabriolet roof. It endows the 488 Spider with coupe-like looks and security when it’s up.

Replacing the Ferrari 458 Spider, the 488 Spider has been extensively revised. Its chassis is a significant 23 per cent stiffer than its predecessor, which benefits handling with the roof down, and other detail improvements include the introduction of Apple CarPlay. Not that using your smartphone is the first thing on your mind when behind the wheel of a Ferrari…

Styling and interior

The 488 Spider is a beautiful car, particularly in the Blu Corsa colourscheme Ferrari used to launch the model (and which our test car was resplendent in). The finish is as perfect as you could imagine, the proportions are thrilling and unlike anything else on the road. A head-turner? Guaranteed.

You can spot the 488 Spider over its 458 Spider predecessor by the big air intakes in the rear wings. These are enormous to ensure the boosted engine is kept cool – they’re not just there for show. Likewise, the huge rear wheels, which have to transmit the Ferrari’s formidable power and deal with trivial details such as an accelerator response time of just 0.8 seconds. Almost instantaneously, in other words.

Inside, Ferrari’s simple and elegant style is finished in sumptuous leather and feels decidedly purposeful. The seats are firm, instruments numerous and the yellow Ferrari prancing horse in the centre of the steering wheel makes it feel wholly authentic. The steering wheel is, like an F1 car packed with switches, including the starter button and Ferrari Manettino suspension settings dial.

The rev counter is centrally positioned, multi-function screens either side let you monitor the car’s various parameters and the gearbox paddleshifters are large and set close to the steering wheel – so close, there’s no room for conventional column stalks. Instead, they’re controlled by buttons on the steering wheel as well.

Farrari Inside


The Ferrari 488 Spider is one of the fastest new cars you can buy. 0-62mph in 3.0 seconds says it all: the fact this is easily-repeatable courtesy of an advanced electronic launch control means it’s straightforward to sample the full effect of the 488 Spider’s amazing performance.

It’s wildly fast, the effect reinforced by its ultra-sharp response. You don’t have to rev it hard to get maximum surge, because the turbos mean there’s plenty of meat even at everyday revs. It’s this that helps make this one of the fastest Ferraris ever in the real world.

The engine is more refined at lower revs too. It doesn’t growl like previous models, so it’s easier to live with and less antisocial. Not that Ferrari has sanitised it, though. Let the revs rise over 5,000rpm and the most incredible howl emerges. It’s vocal and scintillating, as is the sheer immediacy of the power produced. As you reach the red line, a snap of the carbon fibre gearchange paddle engages the next gear in a flash and the surge continues unabated.

It’s very linear and much easier to drive than older Ferraris, but little less exciting. The raw bark of a non-turbo engine isn’t there, of course, but somehow the 488 Spider’s more mature range of performance is more in keeping with 21st century supercar motoring. One thing’s for sure: it’s utterly addictive.


It feels special, just sitting behind the wheel of the 488 Spider. You feel positioned far forward, with your feet almost between the front wheels, looking down upon a low nose that’s wide but easy to place in corners. It’s a sporting, dynamic setup that leaves you in no doubt you’re behind the wheel of a mid-engined supercar.

It’s not as intimidating as you might fear. The steering is packed with feel but isn’t darty or aggressive, and the ride is firm and poised but not aggressively harsh or crashy. Many owners go touring in their 488 Spiders, with a lucky passenger alongside them, and Ferrari’s been careful not to spoil this ability.

Through corners, though, it’s genuinely impressive. It turns in without hesitation, there’s a tremendous amount of grip and traction is fantastic. It’s an exciting driving experience, certainly, but it’s also a feel-good one, which you’re able to enjoy rather than cower in fear of.

The only slight gripe we had was evidence of a bit more body shimmer on the move when the roof was down compared to when it was up – suggesting the structure might not be quite as stiff as Ferrari would have us believe. That’s the price you pay for posing…

Price and value

The 488 Spider is a £200,000 car – before you add on any options. Which most owners do. Make it effectively a quarter-million-pound car, then. A lot of money… but still, somehow, good value. See, Ferraris these days don’t really depreciate, and the firm throws in a remarkable warranty and free servicing package, so effectively all you need to do is insure it, fuel it and fit new tyres where necessary.

Owning a Ferrari used to be a bit of a financial liability. Not anymore.

Fuel economy

Fuel economy not a concern of Ferrari owners? Maybe not, but it’s a worry for Ferrari itself – environmental pressures apply to all manufacturers these days, not just mainstream ones. Indeed, seeking better economy is the reason why Ferrari introduced this new turbo engine in the first place.

And it’s an effective introduction – instead of average economy being in the teens, this model returns a claimed figure of almost 25mpg. CO2 is equally impressive, dipping down to just 260g/km. Given how much power and potency the engine has, this is truly impressive stuff from the Italian brand.

Verdict: Ferrari 488 Spider

The Ferrari 488 Spider is the perfect open-top super sports car. It’s wildly fast and thrilling to drive, but also manageable and comfortable when you want to sit back and cruise. It looks great, is evocative to sit in and, most importantly of all, wears the fabled Ferrari badge well. What’s not to like?

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