Ferrari drops the top, full specs on new 458 Spider [w/video]

Engineering a mid-engined exotic with a retractable hardtop is a bit tricky. Which is why it's never been done before – that is, until now. Feast your eyes on what Maranello's crafty engineers have wrought.

Earlier this morning, we showed you the first video of the coming Ferrari 458 Spider, but now we have a batch of images and more information to share with you. The convertible version of the 458 Italia fills the space left by the F430 Spider and the 360, 355 and 348 Spiders before it. But whereas those went with cloth roofs, the newest variation on the theme uses a folding – or more accurately, flipping – hard panel.

The mechanism is similar to the one on the Superamerica, but whereas that model's roof panel simply rests under the open sky on the rear deck, the 458 stows under the deck lid, protecting it from collecting dust or rain that would otherwise be deposited on the driver and passenger when deployed.

The function is simpler than most folding contraptions and resulting form is more pleasing to the eye as well, but the one disadvantage is that the 4.5-liter direct-injection V8 (with all its 562 prancing horses and trademark crackled red cam cover) is now hidden below decks instead of displayed as on the 458 Italia coupe. Which only goes to show that while you can come close to having your proverbial cake and eating it too, even this level of performance roadster has its trade-offs. This, though, strikes us as one we could live with. You know, if we really had to.

Follow the jump for the video and full press release, and be sure to scope out the initial batch of high-resolution images in the gallery as we gear up for the 458 Spider's debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show just a few weeks from now.

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The world's first mid-rear engined berlinetta equipped with a retractable hard top debuts at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Maranello, 23rd August 2011 – The new 458 Spider joins the 458 Italia, widening the range of Ferrari's mid-rear engined V8s and offering the same uncompromising technological solutions, handling and performance in a refined open-top configuration. It is equipped with a Ferrari patented, fully retractable hard top, a world first for a sports car with this lay-out.

The 458 Spider is powered by Ferrari's naturally-aspirated, direct-injection 4.5 litre V8 which was nominated as the 2011 International Engine of the Year for its engineering excellence in terms of driveability, performance, economy and refinement. The power is transferred to the road by Ferrari's class-leading dual-clutch F1 paddle-shift transmission through the sophisticated E-Diff, itself integrated with the F1-Trac traction control and high-performance ABS for maximum handling dynamics.

Certain features, such as its accelerator pedal mapping and the damping of the multilink suspension, have been calibrated to guarantee maximum sportiness and absolute driving pleasure with the top down, in line with Maranello's exclusive spider tradition. Even the engine soundtrack has been honed to ensure that the car's occupants are completely captivated by the drop-top driving experience.

Entirely in aluminium, the hard-top solution adopted for the 458 Spider offers a number of advantages over the traditional folding soft-top, including a reduction of 25 kg in weight and a deployment time of just 14 seconds. Fully integrated into the styling of the car, the hard-top was engineered to fit neatly ahead of the engine bay without compromising aerodynamics or the performance of the car. The small space needed to house the roof enables the designers to include a generous rear bench for luggage behind the seats.

The rear of the car is characterised by innovative forms with the buttresses designed to optimise the flow of air to the engine intakes and the clutch and gearbox oil radiators. For maximum comfort whilst driving top down the 458 Spider features a generously-sized adjustable electric wind stop. The design was perfected to slow and diffuse the air in the cockpit, enabling normal conversation to be held even at speeds over 200 km/h.

New technical solutions adopted for the chassis guarantee identical levels of structural rigidity with the roof up or down. The result is a car that is truly exciting to drive, blending extreme performance with the responsiveness that has always characterised Ferrari's open-top berlinettas.

458 Spider technical specifications
Length 4527 mm (178.2 in.)
Width 1937 mm (76.3 in.)
Height 1211 mm (47.7 in.)
Wheelbase 2650 mm (104.3 in.)
Dry weight 1430 kg (3153 lbs)*
Weight/power ratio 2.51 kg/CV (7.42 lbs/kW)
Weight distribution fr/r 42%/58%

Type 90° V8
Displacement 4499 cc (274.5 cu in.)
Maximum power 570 CV (425 kW)** @ 9000 rpm
Maximum torque 540 Nm (398 lbs/ft) @ 6000 rpm
Specific power output 127 CV/l
Compression ratio 12.5:1

Front 235/35 ZR20 8.5"
Rear 295/35 ZR20 10.5"

Maximum speed >320 km/h (>198 mph)
0-100 km/h <3.4 s

Fuel consumption + emissions
Fuel consumption*** 11.8 l/100 km
Emissions*** 275 g CO2/km

Dual-clutch, 7-speed F1

E-Diff3, F1-Trac, high-performance ABS

* With forged wheels and Racing seats
** Including 5 CV of ram effect
*** Combined cycle with HELE system (ECE+EUDC)

Ferrari 458 Italia Information

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