We drive the new Ferrari F8 Spider in Dubai – they may not sound nearly as good as before, but Maranello’s new-era supercars might still be the pick of the bunch…
This may sound like a moronic question, but is it possible to be disappointed by a Ferrari? Short answer: no, you moron. Long answer: no, with a few tiny “buts”. First, however, let’s understand how we came to be asking this in the first place.
While the rest of Maranello’s current factory output is pushing Ferrari’s design language firmly into the third decade of the 21st century, the F8 possesses perhaps the most obviously traceable lineage. Its evolutionary chart stretches back to the outgoing 488 and the 458 before that – for these purposes, the homo sapiens of the story. The former’s angry, race-ready Pista variant provides the family tree branch from whence a somewhat more alien life form has pupated and transmogrified, most visible via the signature plunging bonnet scoop.
So no, you’re not about to be completely stopped in your tracks, unable to understand what in the heck gave birth to the F8. It is, though, a good deal spikier and more rakish than the 488, with a hypermodern back end that will indeed make folks turn their heads as you pass, like that guy who’s about to get slapped in the face by his open-mouthed girlfriend in a million and one internet memes.
In Spider form – as opposed to the hard-top Tributo – those good looks are going to receive even more amorous attention once the lid is retracted. That feat, incidentally, can be achieved in 14 seconds at up to 45km/h.
The roof does inadvertently lead us to one those “buts”. It’s nitpicking, really, but when you’ve splurged north of a AED1,000,000 on a four-wheeled bane of your bank manager’s life, you might realistically hope for an exhaust note that isn’t just ever soooooo slightly lacking in real menace.
You want to ignore it, yet the very fact that you can press a button to open a mini rear window – which can be lowered to help you hear that mid-rear-mounted turbocharged engine growling, when the top is keeping the sun off your bonce – suggests Ferrari is admitting something it doesn’t want to to say aloud. This is the storied carmaker’s most powerful V8 ever in a “regular” production Ferrari. So could it, maybe, be a touch shoutier?
There are only two other elements that minutely irritate me during several days with the F8 Spider. A somewhat glitchy CarPlay interface can be disregarded with a cordial suggestion that, hey, I shouldn’t be such an Apple fanboy. Slightly more troubling in a million-dirham motor with predictably tricksy visibility issues are the 360-degree camera system and parking sensors – they prove a tad hit and miss when it comes to inspiring confidence that you will definitely avoid putting expensive dents in expensive pointy bits of expensive Ferrari. Gladly, such wallet damage is eschewed, but in urban environments such as Dubai, where inexplicable road features, kerbs and street furniture abound, for longer-term navigators, the term “borrowed time” springs to mind. Hand your F8 over to hotel valets at your knuckle-gnawing peril.
Alright, stop it, you’re probably screaming at your screen about now. Enough whinging. Belt up about your zoomed-in gripes. Tell us what the F8 does well. Hmm, try just about bloody everything else. It acquaints you with the horizon at paces that no sane person should attempt on public roads. It sticks round corners as if Isaac Newton himself decided that maybe his theories on gravity could do with a spit and polish. The proportions are almost black magic in their perfection. And with the top retracted, there aren’t many more exhilarating experiences on God’s green Earth than becoming your own private pilota on the open road.
It’s all rather plug and play versus the seat-soiling fun of the F40 et al, granted – or even measured by the metric of the menacing Pista. There is something to be said, however, for not ending your day embedded in a sand dune/shop window/other motorist after a sub-second lapse of concentration. Oh and turbo lag? Is that a thing that even exists as a concept? Not here…
The clever details on the F8 Spider are manifold: take, for example, the decision to make the front radiators rearward-angled, which significantly contributes to downforce and a 10 per improvement in the car’s overall efficiency against the 488 Spider. Neat, right? And at 20 kilograms lighter than its predecessor, the F8 Spider also weighs a mere 20kg more than the pared-down Pista Spider. No flab here, then.
It’s a chunk up on power, too, putting it firmly in the headlamp sights of some weighty rivals. Indulge us here, because comparing Ferraris with other marques has long been a largely fruitless exercise – if you want a Prancing Horse on your driveway, very little is going to convince you otherwise. But to pull a parallel out of the air, given the choice between the F8 Spider and McLaren’s lauded – and similarly horsepowered – 720S Spider, there feels like only one winner. And unless you are unhinged enough to reason that Surrey sounds much more glamorous than Modena, that victor hails from Italy, not Blighty.
Ferrari F8 Spider
3.9-litre V8, twin-turbocharged | seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, rear-wheel drive | 710 horsepower at 8,000rpm and 770Nm of torque from 3,250rpm | zero to 100km/h in 2.9 seconds and top speed of 340km/h | POA