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Ferrari F430 Spider


Ferrari F430 Spider

hey're funny things, Ferraris. The less bodywork they wear, the more exciting they tend to be. Chopping off the roof brings you even closer to the action - but will the latest hair-raising Spider lure fans further into its web?

This F430's predecessor - the 360 Spider - had a reputation as a sensitive car to drive on dry roads, and was even more tricky in the wet. Ferrari had to make its new model easier to handle to attract more buyers... and it has! Now, anybody with the right amount of cash in their wallet could pilot this thoroughbred without fear.

But first you have to get to grips with the Spider's raft of electronic gizmos. After familiarising yourself with the optional F1-style paddleshift gear-change, you then have to tell the car exactly what kind of mood you're in.

Depending on the conditions, the hi-tech driver aids can be adjusted using a switch, with settings for Ice, Low Grip, Sport and Race. Sport is generally ideal, and the assistance works unobtrusively. In Race mode, gearshifts leap from very quick to virtually instantaneous, with each change of ratio taking only 150 milliseconds. For track days, it is also possible


to turn off all the electronics, with the exception of the ABS and EBD.

Under the bonnet, the Spider comes with the same powerplant as its hard-top sibling. The 4.3-litre V8 delivers a mighty howl from its four exhausts, propelling the convertible from 0-60mph in 4.1 seconds. That's 0.2 seconds behind its coupé brother, but the Spider delivers race car thrust which sees its speed climb rapidly nevertheless. The clever roof opens or closes electrically in 20 seconds, and can be operated at up to 3mph. What's more, the lid is unique in that it leaves the V8 engine visible through a clear cover - a major attraction of the hard-top - although to save space there's no glass rear screen.

Even at high speeds, a wind deflector behind the cockpit minimises roof-down turbulence. With the hood up, there's plenty of headroom, and refinement is excellent with little air noise.

So the faultlessly built Spider is beautiful and offers a superb driving experience. It's no surprise that this car is set to account for around 55 per cent of F430 sales - although if you order one today, you'll be in a queue of 600, and won't get your soft-top until 2008.
Peter Dron
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