Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ferrari 458 Speciale A is Italy's most dangerous spider


A stands for aperta, which, if you know your Italian (or your old Ferrari specials), translates as open. No prizes for guessing it's the long rumoured Speciale spider, then, and despite having no fancy hybrid tech or dihedral doors, it looks set to steal a chunk of the Paris headlines.

It follows the same, simple recipe as the Scuderia 16M it effectively supersedes, taking the Speciale coupe – arguably the greatest supercar of the last decade – and lopping off its roof. Unlike the 16M, though, it doesn't have a fabric roof, instead employing the same folding hard-top setup as the regular 458 Spider, which adds 50kg to the coupe's curb weight. The Speciale A tips the scales at 1445kg.

Underneath the skin, the Speciale's mesmerising mash-up of screaming naturally aspirated power and mind-bogglingly clever electronics remains intact. That means a 4.5-litre V8 with 597 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque: enough for 0-62mph in 3.0 seconds, which is unchanged from the tin-top Speciale, despite the weight penalty. It also boasts an identical lap time to the coupe around the circuit in Ferrari's back garden (known more glamorously as Fiorano).

Complementing one of the more glorious engines on sale is a snappy seven-speed twin-clutch paddleshift gearbox and a host of driver-flattering acronyms, the most interesting being SSC (side slip angle control) which assists the driver in carving artful black lines around corners. The stability control can all be turned off, of course.

Being based on Ferrari's most extreme V8 berlinetta, the Speciale A is naturally its fastest, most aerodynamic spider, too.

Prices haven't yet been divulged, but with the 458 Spider commanding a £20,000 premium over its base car, we'd wager an entry point just shy of £230,000 for the Speciale A. That's a largely irrelevant of course, as it doesn't take an awful lot of options list surfing to crank Ferrari prices up considerably. You can probably save yourself a bit of cash by avoiding the lurid blue carbon in the shots above, though...

The 458 Speciale looks set to be the last naturally aspirated V8 road car to roll out of Maranello, with the 458's replacement – which could arrive as early as next year – set to gain a pair of turbos, like this year's California T. With the ability to fold its roof and take in every one of its screaming decibels, the A could be the ideal way to sign things off.

You'll have to be quick if you want to titillate your eardrums, though – unlike the coupe, this one's limited. Just 499 will be sold, making it as scarce as the LaFerrari.

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