The GTB, you’ll hardly need reminding, was one of last year’s high points: a five star car, the winner of handling day – and incontrovertible proof that the limitations of turbocharging were not going to prevent Ferrari from turning out yet another mid-engined masterpiece.
Realistically, with the allure of a stiff breeze and a better view of the sunset assured, the Spider need only replicate a few essential lines of the 488’s unimpeachable genetic code to be a triumph – and it does so, immediately and memorably.
True enough, proximity to the latest V8 is not quite as momentous as it was in the 458 Spider, where to hear the old 4.5-litre unit at 9000rpm was to hear the Almighty bellow at you through a rolled-up newspaper. Yet the sound of its replacement is compelling nonetheless, the twin-scroll turbochargers spooling slavishly ahead of a titanium exhaust-valve production of flat-plane crank falsetto.
Even more so now than before, it is impossible to separate exposure to the noise (even with the roof up you can drop the back window) from the experience of the accompanying speed. With the surrounding airflow incorporated into the V8’s prolific delivery, the 488’s instant pace now seems all the more colossal – and it’s that energy bonanza which most obviously distinguishes the model from its predecessor.
Fortunately, as in the GTB, the electric responsiveness and sheer urgency delivered by the blowers doesn’t overwhelm either the effervescence of the control weights or the light-on-its-feet dynamism of the chassis. Rather than feeling like it’s screwing more and more torque blithely onto the road, the Spider still feels crisp, incredibly direct and exuberantly agile in a way not common to every supercar.
The only shortfall in its engagement with your critical faculties is perhaps a foreseeable one. The shortfall in rigidity hinted at in Italy is only made more plain by transference to the UK, and is recognisable almost from the get-go in the subtle quiver of structural duress. The more forgiving nature of the Spider’s suspension settings and superb wheel control generally keep it from being unsettling (you tune it out as you tune the car’s immense talent in) – but canter into the wrong set of deep and irregular bumps and you’ll feel the 488’s platform physically protest through the steering column and scuttle. It is a general vice rather than a chronic problem, yet it does ensure that the Spider’s comfort levels remain well shy of the nonchalance delivered by McLaren’s carbon tub.
Where the model doesn’t stutter is in the reproduction of the 488’s supreme (and wonderfully approachable) playfulness. With the Manettino dial in CT off mode, Ferrari’s Side Slip Control-enabled e-diff lets the rear axle run out of traction so progressively that it’s possible to take giant liberties with all the available torque and not necessarily feel like you’re betting the farm on the outcome.