Parkers overall rating: 4.8 out of 5 4.8
  • Twin-turbocharged 3.9-litre V8 develops 660bhp, or 100bhp more than 458 Spider
  • Torque a faintly ridiculous 760Nm, available from 3,000rpm until 8,000rpm
  • Roof up or down, 488 Spider completes 0-62mph in three seconds, 203mph top speed

Of course there’s only one engine involved in providing Ferrari 488 Spider performance, but what an engine it is. Purists may lament the arrival of turbocharged power to Ferrari’s V8 mid-engined sports cars, but we’d remind them that while it’s only 15g/km more efficient than the naturally aspirated 4.5-litre V8 in the 458 Spider, the 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 of the 488 also boasts another 100bhp. Plus, it’s got 40 percent more torque than the old non-turbo unit, with a staggering 760Nm of pulling power available all the way from 3,000rpm until 8,000rpm.

Sure this new engine doesn’t rev to 9,000rpm like the old one, but my word does it hit 8,000rpm quickly. So fast in fact that with the accelerator pinned to the bulkhead, the lights on the steering wheel will light up and head-butt you into the rev limiter before you have a chance to pull back for an up-shift of the dual-clutch gearbox.

That transmission now shifts 30 percent faster than before, and should you require a lower ratio will swap down the cogs 40 percent quicker than the ‘box in the 458. Which helps explain how the Ferrari 488 Spider will sprint from 0-62mph in three seconds flat. Should the conditions and laws allow it, the 488 Spider will reach double that (0-124mph) in just 8.7 seconds.

Top speed is a faintly ridiculous 203mph – though we can’t comment on how well your hairstyle will look after a spirited run al fresco at such speeds.

There’s been a lot said elsewhere about a disappointing soundtrack for this new engine, especially in early 488 GTB reports. But while this turbocharged engine doesn’t have the same metallic howl of the previous naturally aspirated engine, the V8 demonstrates a deep, bassy and purposeful growl that grows in urgency and volume towards the top of its rev range.

Plus, with the Spider you can either lower the roof completely, or drop the rear wind deflector (with the roof raised), to allow more of that manic exhaust and engine noise into the cabin. And the benefit is, when you’re not in the mood to assault passers-by with an aural barrage of V8 combustion the 488 Spider will cruise by in relative silence provided you’re on a constant throttle.

  • Updated suspension control systems means 488 Spider is both comfortable and focussed
  • Side Slip Control 2 stability system allows you to explore limits of car’s grip safely
  • Steering wheel-mounted Manettino allows you to select from five different driving modes

Previously we’ve been blown away by the handling abilities displayed by the Ferrari 458 Speciale, and it seems the firm’s engineers agree with us – the new Ferrari 488 Spider uses the same damper rates as the hardcore coupe. However thanks to changes in the software of the SCM 3 magnetorheological damping system, the drop-top responds in a more comfortable way.

That’s not to say it’s gone soft; far from it. What it does mean, is that while it demonstrates the pin-sharp handling we’ve come to expect from Ferrari’s sports cars, it also proves comfortable and supple over longer journeys. The 488 Spider is perfect for soaking up the rays, and the surface imperfections, on the promenade.

But the 488 Spider also comes alive on more challenging roads. That mid-rear engine location gives the new 488 Spider a 42:58 front:rear weight distribution, which means the Spider is delicately balanced and with its trademark light but sharp steering the nose feels particularly agile.

By default you’ll mostly drive the 488 Spider in Sport mode, but you can rotate the Manettino switch to Wet should the weather take a turn for the worse – in which case the stability system will be on full alert and the power delivery in its less violent setting. And for those who want to explore the car’s handling and performance abilities, Race (one up from Sport) allows for maximum attack before selecting CT Off (traction control) or ESC Off (traction and stability control are fully disengaged). The latter are best reserved for experienced drivers on track.