What is it?
Ferrari says the Scuderia Spider 16M is the highest performance Spider that it’s ever made. Like the fixed-head F430 Scuderia, this car also incorporates what Ferrari calls ‘F1-derived’ technology. This is also a limited edition (499 units) production run. The ‘16M moniker’ refers to Ferrari’s 16 F1 Constructors World Championships, the latest of which was achieved in 2008.
Although the 16M is derived from its fixed-head predecessor, Ferrari has taken the Scuderia concept even further. Despite the additional body strengthening, the 16M is 80kg lighter, tipping the scales at an admirable (for a car of this size and sophistication) 1340kg. Much of this has been achieved by a major overhaul of the double wishbone suspension as well as new dampers and a new steering box. It even gets titanium springs and wheel bolts, a measure of the 16M’s extreme engineering brief. Further weight was shaved back by using new materials for the bumpers, diffuser and aerodynamic undertray.
It’s powered by the same 503bhp version of Ferrari’s 4.3-litre V8 found in the fixed-head, but has undergone an extra tweak in the form of redesigned pistons which also allow for a higher compression ratio. 80 per cent of the engine’s torque (which peaks at 473lb ft at 5250rpm) is now on tap from 3000rpm. The engine drives the F1-SuperFast2 six-speed transmission, which can execute shifts in a claimed 60 milliseconds via the steering wheel paddles, an effective auto setting for the transmission works well in combination with occasional manual selection.
Helping keep the 16M on the road is the F1-Trac traction control system and the E-Diff intelligent differential. The driver can select five basic ‘characters’ for the 16M via the Manettino. The driver can scroll through the settings, from wet conditions, through good-road holding and track-driving. The car’s electronic safety net can be progressively disabled, with the CT setting allowing oversteer at maximum power and CST taking away everything but the E-Diff’s efforts. The basic damping set-up is also switchable for slightly better comfort.
What’s it like?
The 16M is capable of being surprisingly civilised and surprisingly aggressive. With the fabric roof down ( an admirably simple and compact design) and travelling at up to 85mph, (above which the in-cabin buffeting is bit too much) the 16M is engaging, if a little boisterous, but entirely useable over many hours. You won’t step out shaken and stirred.
However, when given its head, the 16M is a very loud, hardcore experience. Under hard acceleration, resonators in the intake manifold switch over to deliver the most extraordinary, howling, moaning engine noise. Full bore acceleration is also brutal and brutally effective (60mph can come up in just 3.7secs). There’s not much that could keep up with a 16M driven by a very committed driver. The carbon ceramic brakes fitted to the 16M (with six-pot pistons at the front) are superb, and significantly more positive and more powerful than the standard F430 Scuderia set-up.
The driver is in for a treat. The carbon-shell seats are first rate, and the fat wheel (which is trimmed in suede, leather and carbon fibre) is perfectly judged. Contact points are very important in a car like this. Oddly enough, the right-hand drive 16M might have a more comfortable driving position because the driver’s left leg can be extended right down into the footwell. On the left hooker, the left foot rest is on the inner wheel arch. Extensive use of carbon fibre trim (the whole door trims and peppered around the interior) also works well. There’s also some beautiful engineering detail, with the door pull and release worthy of carful examination.
Should I buy one?
Ultimately, the 16M and the 430 Scuderia are quite different machines. The 16M is a more committed, brutally effective machine, with a more aggressive engine response and better brakes. But while it makes impressively smooth progress on good roads, it’s disturbed by the potholes and broken surfaces typical in the UK. While I’d happily use this car day-to-day in, say, France or Switzerland, in the UK it would more of handful and rather better as a pure track day car.
The 430 Scuderia, with its stiffer body, has slightly more accurate steering, a better ride on UK roads and the engine is not as manic in its delivery. Overall, as a day-to-day car, it suits the UK roads better than the 16M. But there’s no doubt that as open-top continental tourer, the 16M is an exceptional machine.