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TG Awards 2011: our cabrio of the year

Most of the Ferrari 458 Spider was not a surprise. We knew it’d be gloriously noisy, with that 4.5-litre V8 searing its way to 9,000rpm, slicing open aural nerves and dipping the ends in sonic salt. We knew it would be fast and dynamic, with a mid-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive, 568bhp and Ferrari voodoo sprinkled over the vital mechanical bones. We assumed that, shorn of its roof, it might well be a bit bloody intense. And we were right. It is all of those things.

Top Gear drives the Ferrari 458 Spider

But we weren’t prepared for being quite so enamoured with the assimilation - roof up or down - of the retractable hard-top. And we were joyfully surprised by the ability of the Spider to ape the Coupe’s dynamics, its complete understanding of what elevates a mid-engined supercar from the merely good to the definitively great. Not perfectly: it will shudder slightly over rough surfaces, and you lose the ability to peruse the seminal engine through a transparent cover. But these are small things when you realise this is the first time you should be considering the Spider variant over the Coupe. It really is that good. A no-compromise convertible? It’s real. It’s here. It’s the Ferrari 458 Spider.

Read this and much much more in our huge new Awards issue of TopGear magazine, on sale now

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