It is 9.30 sharp when I walk through the gates of the Ferrari factory in an eerily quiet Maranello. In one of the two parking spots in front of the iconic factory building a Giallo Modena yellow Ferrari F8 Spider is waiting for me. Following one of the quickest and easiest test car handovers in years I’m out through the gate as fast as I came in.
The Ferrari F8 Spider is the successor to the 488 Spider launched in late 2015. The 3.9 liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine internally known as F154CD delivers the same output as the 2018 488 Pista Spider. While delivering 720hp and 770Nm of torque the F8 Spider can sprint from 0-100 km/h in 2.9 seconds, 0-200 km/h in 8.2 seconds and continue to accelerate until the top speed of 340 km/h. Weighing in at just 1,400 kilograms the F8 has a power-to-weight ratio of less than 2 kg per hp. It is the most powerful and possibly last non-hybrid Ferrari V8 produced to date.
Despite my test drive taking place at the beginning of November the sky is blue and the outside temperature already passed 15 degrees this morning. So it is time to drop the folding hardtop by pressing the button in the center console. In around 14 seconds the roof drops down and this can be done up to speeds of 45 km/h. One of my favorite features of this kind of roof is the small rear window you can open while the roof is up; it keeps the wind noise out but let’s all the beautiful tunes of the mid-engined V8 in.
Design-wise the new F8 Tributo and F8 Spider continue in the footsteps of the stunning and incredibly sexy Pista. The S-Duct dominates the front of the car and the new side intakes and slimmer, longer LED lights give the front a wider and more aggressive appearance. The large air intakes are moved slightly further back to improve the airflow to the engine. The sideskirts taper outwards towards the rear wheel. It is a part of the car you will want to clean after every drive as they seem to catch a lot of dirt coming from the front wheels and seemingly the only part where form and function don’t go hand in hand.
For the first time since the F430 quad tail lights returned. Photos don’t do justice to the level of depth these LED lights provide in real life. The lower part of the rear is very similar to the Pista with a wide diffuser and two large exhaust pipes. Being a spider the engine is hidden mostly below the foldable hard top.
The quality of the design continues beyond what you can see on first glimpse. Under the front bonnet beautifully sculptured carbon covers the inside around the actual trunk. It is details like this that set Ferrari apart from the competition.
The inside of the F8 Spider is dominated by leather and carbon fibre. The carbon fibre racing seats are a perfect fit. And although the convertible has slightly less space than the F8 Tributo there is enough space to sit comfortably even for taller people. Being 1,90m tall myself I struggle to sit well in many mid-engined sports cars but in the F8 Spider I had no issues at all. This also thanks to the extremely low and elegant center console that provides both excellent leg space as well as a general sense of space.
Ferrari’s have always been extremely driver oriented and the F8 Spider makes no exception. All vital controls are located directly on the steering wheel; including indicators (takes some getting used too), big beam, engine start / stop, dampers, voice control and phone, wipers and last but not least the Manettino which allows quick and uncomplicated change of drive programs from Wet and Sport to Race, TC off and finally ESP off.
Unlike most other new cars the only touch screen is solely for the passenger. The driver can control everything by the touch of a button and I wish more manufacturers would follow this example. Key driver information is displayed only on two displays on either side of the rev counter.
Time to find out what it is like to drive the F8 Spider. Normally I head South from Maranello straight into the mountains but this time I want to go East and find some new locations. The first part of the journey takes me via the truck heavy SP467 with its dense traffic and destroyed road surface. Not ideal for a 720hp V8 supercar but with the soft damper setting the F8 copes well.
Leaving the main road and the traffic behind me as I head into the hills I can let the engine howl a bit more. The V8 packs an incredible punch and presses me firmly into my seat as I sprint from bend to bend on the first empty mountain road. The audible drama is not quite as it used to be but this is mainly due to the EU and their emissions (OPF) and sound restrictions that Ferrari has to comply with.
What is remarkable is the balance and predictability; the throttle, braking and steering are all equally easy to dose and give you a perfect sense of control. This makes that the Ferrari F8 Spider doesn’t feel like a 720hp supercar, and all the glitches that normally come with it, when you are cruising in town or in traffic but as soon as you find that perfect bit of road or hit the track it morphs into a breathtaking razor sharp machine within a split second.
By chance we find a mountain road with sunlight peeking through the trees for our photographer Philipp Rupprecht to work his magic on the Ferrari F8 Spider.
On the second part of my journey the roads straighten and are much smoother, yet the F8 is so incredibly fast that it is hard to enjoy the full potential on any public road. From an engineering perspective we live in incredible times that you have to take a mid-engined convertible on track to utilize it to its maximum. Nonetheless I can think of few things more enjoyable than driving through the Italian hills with a prancing horse while the wind rushes through my hair.
A day with a Ferrari is always too short. If it wasn’t just for the experience itself, it is for the wonderful things that just happen when you travel through Italy in such a car. A restaurant owner obliging you to park on the no-parking space directly in front of his locale, to kids smiling from ear to ear when they see the car.
After returning the Ferrari F8 Spider at the same place where I picked it up this morning it is time to reflect. The F8 Spider is incredibly close to automotive perfection. Stunning design paired with a driver-oriented cockpit without touch screens which is a relief for true drivers. The available performance is more than sufficient in all situations except maybe at a hypercar trackday. All of my comments sound like whining at the highest level, only the lack of volume in the soundtrack is something that impacts the otherwise perfect score.