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The Ferrari F8 Spider packs outrageous performance, deft handling and sheer drama within a surprisingly approachable and delightful open-top package.

21 Dec 2020


711bhp all thrown at the rear wheels. I don't care how good of a driver you think you are, that's undeniably intimidating.

And behind the wheel of the new Ferrari F8 Spider, the brand's latest mid-rear-engine drop-top V8 offering, I can't pretend that I'm not a tad worried. I just experienced some wheel spin in third gear. Oh boy, this is going to be quite a day.

Function into form

The F8 Spider is a striking car that's sure to attract envious stares
The design of the F8 Tributo, and thus the Spider as well, is clearly born out of function rather than purely sculptural aesthetics. It's striking, aggressive, and unmistakably a Ferrari, but I wouldn't call it pretty (that would be the 458, without question).

Aerodynamics play a huge part. That's why you have the S-Duct at the front, the large rear spoiler, sculpted strakes on the side elements of the engine cover, and all manner of air vents across the vehicle. It's quite a busy overall design.

A revised interior means that cabin operation is slightly less tedious than before
The interior is, well, bare. What else are you expecting from a sports car?

Two screens on either side of the central tachometer in the dashboard serve as your infotainment cum navigation cum information hub. Moving through different menus is not quite as seamless as in something like a Bimmer or Audi, but at the same time, it's definitely an improvement from Ferraris of the past. It's…usable.

Power from the hand of God

Where every Ferrari truly earns its keep is the way it delivers on the road. And my god, does this F8 Spider deliver.

The remarkable 3.9-litre V8 engine churns out outrageous power, but it is the linear way that power is delivered that is truly special
Power comes from the fabled, multi-award winning 3.9-litre turbocharged V8 engine, which is easily the most malleable, spine-tingling and soulful V8 out there. It really does feel like a naturally aspirated unit - power delivery is shockingly linear, with not a hint of turbo lag at all.

And, the engine pulls like all hell. From 2,000rpm to the 8,000rpm red line, it just keeps pulling on and on. And oh yeah, did I mention that it's outputting 711bhp and 770m of torque?? Those are ludicrous figures. Ferrari quotes a 2.9 second 0-100km/h time. I launched the car once and managed 3.3 seconds. Even as I stepped hard on the brakes after reaching an unpublishable speed, the car felt like it barely even stretched its legs. I will admit to being slightly too scared to try a second time.

Gear shifts are despatched aggressively and instantaneously
The sheer muscular capability of the F8 Spider is outrageous. Even in fifth or sixth gear, a healthy dose of throttle will see the car rocket into the distance. Second or third? Give it the beans and you're over the speed limit in a heart beat.

Handling? I wish I could tell you about the car's sublime handling and mid-corner balance, but the reality is that on public roads you can only barely scratch the surface of what the car is capable of. You really need a race track to fully appreciate the spectacular engineering that goes into this beast. Side Slip Control? Yeah, I'm not brave enough to try that on public roads.

What I can tell you is that the car feels alive. The steering is sharp and responsive, the car feels agile and precise. It has all the makings of a fantastic and involving sports car, and on a track it's likely to be spectacular.

Mortal machine

Especially with Bumpy Road mode engaged, the F8 Spider is surprisingly tenable even over harsh bumps
But can you actually drive it normally on normal roads?

Well, once you take some time to get used to the vehicle (and overcome your anxiety about possibly totalling a million dollar car), the F8 Spider proves to be surprisingly usable and accessible.

Yes, there are head scratching design choices in the cabin, such as the odd location of the engine start/stop and central locking buttons (on the roof, next to the cabin lights), or the steering-mounted indicator controls. The wing mirrors stick out significantly, and makes the car feel slightly wider than it actually is.

The RHT can be opened and closed in 14 seconds, and while driving at up to 45km/h
And of course, you need to manage the 711 horses behind your head just raring to go. But when you do, it's surprisingly practical to drive. Visibility is shockingly good for a full-blown sports car. The ride is actually quite forgiving, especially if you engage the Bumpy Road suspension mode - certainly easier to live with than most other cars in its class. And even driven at just 20%, you can still go spectacularly quick.

Straight to the heart

Yes, the Spider may not have quite the same torsional rigidity of the coupe. Yes, this means that it may not have quite the handling precision of the coupe. Does that matter? Well, if you are planning on regularly tracking your Ferrari and chasing lap times then, yes, that would matter.

With launch control engaged, even the most ham-fisted drivers can achieve shocking 0-100km/h timings
However, I suspect that for most Ferrari buyers (who would never track their cars), this F8 Spider is actually the 'better' choice. The retractable hard-top (RHT) means that you can enjoy fresh air, and at the same time give onlookers the opportunity to see you in your full Ferrari-owning glory. And driving around with the roof down, you can't help but feel a little exceptional.

The F8 Spider is a gloriously engineered car, built around a spectacularly engaging and inspiring engine. Does it need 711bhp? Of course not, no car needs 700bhp. But hell, even if this car had half the power, it would still feel fantastic. The chassis, the engine response, the sheer drama of it all - it's undeniably special.

Distilled down, the joy and wonder of the Ferrari F8 Spider is its ability to tug at your heartstrings like few other cars can
It's easy to get caught up in the complexities and numbers of a car like this, or in the drama and eminence of being seen in a Ferrari. And of course, the intimidation factor is real. But strip all that away, and what you're left with is a truly engaging, remarkable and endlessly exciting driving experience. That, distilled, is what a Ferrari is all about - the ability to tug at your heartstrings in a way that precious few other cars can.

This F8 Spider? Yeah, it's most certainly captured my heart. Get behind the wheel of one, and its allure will surely speak to your heart as well.

Car Information

spacer
Ferrari F8 Spider 3.9 V8 (A)
Rate it

Price

: $1,098,000

Engine Type

:

V8 Twin-Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

3902cc

Horsepower

:

530kW (711 bhp) / 7000 rpm

Torque

:

770 Nm / 3250 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) F1 DCT

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

2.9sec

Top Speed

:

340km/h

Fuel consumption

:

7.8 km/L

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