Ferrari 488 Spider review

Category: Sports car

The Ferrari 488 Spider is a convertible supercar that’s more compromised than the 488 GTB on which it’s based, but just as special in its own way

Ferrari 488 Spider
  • Ferrari 488 Spider
  • Ferrari 488 Spider
  • Ferrari 488 Spider
  • Ferrari 488 Spider
  • Ferrari 488 Spider
  • Ferrari 488 Spider
  • Ferrari 488 Spider
  • Ferrari 488 Spider
  • Ferrari 488 Spider
  • Ferrari 488 Spider
  • Ferrari 488 Spider
  • Ferrari 488 Spider
  • Ferrari 488 Spider
  • Ferrari 488 Spider
  • Ferrari 488 Spider
  • Ferrari 488 Spider


What Car? says...

When Ferrari replaced the 458 Italia with the 488 GTB, the decision to switch from a naturally aspirated engine to a turbocharged unit to improve both performance and fuel economy was a controversial one.

Not because people were hoping for a car that was slower and dirtier, you understand, but because the 458 was almost universally regarded as one of the best Ferraris ever and it was feared such a significant change would lead to a car that was less exciting.

In most respects those fears proved unfounded, even though the 488 didn't meet with universal approval. But now we have this open-top version, the Ferrari 488 Spider, which has the potential to both address the problems and create new ones.

Like the GTB, it has a 3.9-litre twin-turbo engine that's connected to a seven-speed paddle-shift gearbox and sends 660bhp to the rear wheels. And while the Spider is slightly heavier because Ferrari has had to add stome structural stiffening to make up for the loss of the fixed roof, this is still a car that can blast from 0-62mph in 3.0sec and reach 202mph.

Read on over the next few pages to find out how the Ferrari 488 Spider compares to the GTB and rivals such as the McLaren 650S Spider.


The Ferrari 488 Spider is a convertible supercar that’s more compromised than the 488 GTB on which it’s based, but just as special in its own way.

  • Stunning performance
  • Involving handling
  • Great driving position
  • Confusing control layout
  • Not as sharp as the coupé

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

One of the few criticisms aimed at the Spider's coupé sister, the 488 GTB, is that it doesn’t sound as good as the 458 Italia it replaced. Well, that isn't such an issue here.

It's partly down to the fact you can drop the roof or lower the rear screen so there’s less of a barrier between you and the engine. However, our test car was fitted with an optional titanium exhaust, too, which makes the 488 Spider sounds like a V8 Ferrari should, even when the roof is up. The engine fires into life with a suitably dramatic bark, and it howls addictively when you put your foot down.

At the same time, the 488 Spider mimics the GTB in the way it builds speed; acceleration is ferocious yet progressive. There’s virtually no delay between you depressing the accelerator and the car responding, and while the engine pulls strongly from low revs, it also loves to be pushed to the redline – something that's rarely the case with a turbocharged engine.

Ferrari’s Side Slip Angle Control system is standard, subtly intervening to help the car turn into bends and then helping you stay in control once it has. The result is a car that flatters the driver, capable of making Kim Kardashian feel like Kimi Räikkönen, although the steering won’t be to all tastes; it’s incredibly quick to respond, even by supercar standards, which can be quite draining when you’re in less of a hurry.

Ferrari 488 image
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In addition, the loss of the fixed roof has resulted in the 488 Spider feeling less stiff than the GTB, with larger bumps and potholes sending shudders through the steering wheel. As a result you can’t always place it with the precision that you can the GTB, or indeed a McLaren 650S Spider.

Overall, though, the Ferrari 488 Spider is still a thrilling car to drive, plus it rides bumps a lot better than you’d expect and keeps wind buffeting to a minimum when the roof is down but the side windows up. It’s surprisingly easy to live with for such a focused machine.


The interior layout, fit and finish

Many of the controls – lights, wipers, indicators, suspension adjustment, starter button and traction control switch – are located on the steering wheel itself, echoing the style, if not the content, of a Formula One car. Unfortunately, this arrangement isn’t particularly user-friendly for road driving and takes a bit of getting used to.

Similarly, the two digital screens, which flank a large analogue rev counter, are far from intuitive. They can display everything from your speed to the navigation and stereo info, but you have to switch between their various menus using fiddly buttons and knobs.

On the other hand, the separate air-conditioning controls, which are positioned in the centre of the dashboard, could hardly be simpler to use.

The basic driving position feels just about perfect, while visibility is good for a low and wide mid-engined car.

Ferrari offers a choice of seats, with the lightweight, manually adjustable items in our test car holding you tightly in place through corners and proving surprisingly comfortable even after a long stint behind the wheel.

Perceived quality still leaves a little to be desired, though; the interior of a McLaren 650S feels more substantial, as does a Porsche 911’s.

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Of course, there are only two seats in the Ferrari 488 Spider, but there’s enough head and leg room for a couple of adults well over six feet tall, and they won’t be clashing elbows.

Oddment storage is decent, too; Ferrari has provided a glovebox, cupholders and a handy central tray, while a shelf behind the seats gives you somewhere to stow a handbag or laptop case.

True, there’s no luggage space behind the cabin, because that space is entirely taken up by the turbocharged 3.9-litre engine, but the well in the nose of the car is capable of swallowing a couple of overnight bags.

The retractable metal roof is fully electric, folding away in 14 seconds and at speeds of up to 30mph.

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

The Ferrari 488 Spider costs a little over £200,000 – £20k more than the GTB coupé on which it’s based – and it’s easy to push that price closer to £300,000 once you’ve added a few choice options.

It’s clearly only for the fabulously wealthy, then; people who will also find it easy enough to afford the huge insurance, servicing and fuel bills.

That said, key rivals such as the Lamborghini Huracán Spyder and McLaren 650S Spider are similarly expensive to buy and run.

The list of standard equipment includes satellite navigation, cruise control, rear parking sensors, an alarm and a tracker.

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