Ferrari has produced some fantastically memorable open-top V8 sports cars since it peeled back the metalwork from the 308 GTB, but the outgoing 458 Spider was a thunderous best-yet effort. Its shadow has only lengthened since we learnt that its replacement would have to have turbochargers mated to a slightly smaller flat-plane crank 90-degree V.
Maranello’s concern, practically bullet pointed in powerpoint, is that Spider buyers may be even more sensitive to the stifling effects of turbines than the GTB’s audience. ‘Open-air hedonists’ Ferrari calls its devotees, and the 458’s engine note and rampant drama were clearly ticked top of their feedback forms.
Personally, I’m with them; I drove the Spider all too briefly two years ago, on a breathless summer evening which turned to night and then day again before I finally emerged from it a happy husk, dried out and baked through by the double-heated breeze and swirling 9000rpm undercurrent.
If the subjective chest-swelling aura of the new 3.9-litre V8 lump is in question, its objective productivity is not. The 458 was already hugely fast, and its output has been improved by 100bhp - a large number utterly eclipsed of course by the 560lb ft of peak twist gleaned by forced induction, and carefully metered out by a Variable Torque Management system depending on the gear ratio. The drivetrain, complete with its quicker shifting seven-speed double-clutch ’box, is a direct carryover from the GTB; the architecture around it, though, is not.