17 February 2005

Ferrari has finished work on its roofless F430. The F430 Spider will make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show, barely six months after the hard-top F430, and goes sale in Britain this July priced at around £120,000. Its swift introduction makes sense for Ferrari. The Spider accounted for 55 per cent of 360 sales during the last two years of its life, and the F430 Spider is expected to be even more significant.

No indication of structural stiffness has been released, but since the standard F430’s aluminium spaceframe is much stiffer than the 360’s, the F430 Spider is expected to be more rigid than its forebear, and less compromised as a driver’s car. Weighing 1520kg, the Spider is 70kg heavier than the hard-top, due to a reinforced windscreen to protect occupants in the event of a rollover, internal strengthening of the doors to guard against side impacts and the electric motors which power the hood. The soft-top is stored between the cabin and the mid-mounted engine, in a compartment so small Ferrari has had to use a plastic rear window instead of the expected, but less flexible, glass. It uses the same mechanism found on the 360, and takes 20 seconds to open. A folding hard-top was rejected because it would add unnecessary weight and obscure the glass-covered engine bay, one of the car’s stand-out features.

The F430 Spider gets an identical powertrain to the coupé: a 483bhp 4308cc V8 powers the rear wheels via Ferrari’s selectable electronic differential. It dispatches the 0-62mph dash in 4.1sec and goes on to a top speed of 193mph – 0.2sec and 3mph more than the hard-top.

Our Verdict

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The Nissan Pathfinder is a tough large SUV, but no Discovery. It's spacious but unrefined

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