It’s a Pista with a very neat convertible hardtop. So it’s the same kind of batsh*t mental, just with an extra fresh-air option.
Engine no longer a showpiece, slight weight gain, should embrace its turbo-ness a little more. But not much to complain about.
What is it?
A convertible Ferrari Pista. Which means it’s the drop-top version of the Pista Coupe, itself a limited-run, track-biased über-488 - ‘Pista’ literally translating as ‘track’. Or ‘dancefloor’ depending on who you talk to, but that’s another story entirely. Anyway, it’s an origami-roof version of Top Gear’s ‘Supercar of the Year 2018’, and therefore the custodian of a great deal of weighty expectation, because no one really wants the Pista’s sterling efforts chamfered soft by a weaker, poseur-oriented sibling. That’s if you could accuse Ferrari’s fastest-ever, most-powerful and best-power-to-weighted convertible as not having enough bite to go with the racy aesthetic.
Mind you, this one’s not a surprise, and the basics of the non-Pista Ferrari 488 Spider we know to be excellent: a neat little Z-fold, two-panel hardtop that electrically stows behind the seats (roosting over the engine) in about 14 seconds, up to speeds of 35mph. It still feels pretty cosy in there, mind - more like a lift-out roof panel than a full-on convertible - but there’s nothing wrong with the way it operates.
Again, just like the standard 488 Spider, it looks excellent roof up or down, and darker-coloured cars hide the roof split lines better than light - and it doesn’t really lose any of the Pista’s ‘whoa’ factor when it turns up. Especially in yellow with a blue stripe.
Saying that, spec all the lightweight options including full carbonfibre wheels and the Spider weighs around 50kg more than the ‘standard’ Pista, which is anything but standard, and itself up to 90kg lighter than a normal 488 GTB. All the other metrics are the same - so it’s got the same downforce and aero properties roof up, the same trick bits and carbonfibre extremities.
Similar story with the engine, which is the same as the Coupe - a race-derived twin-turbo 3.9-litre V8 with 710bhp and 568lb ft, served up through a double-clutch ‘box and a selection of horrendously complicated differentials-slash-electronic programmes, capable of launching the car from 0-62mph in 2.85 seconds and on to a top speed of well over 200mph. I have no doubt it will hit these numbers. And just for reference, the Spider is indeed slower to 62mph than the Coupe, but if you can differentiate the 0.1 second difference when the Pista Spider launches and your face twangs back past your ears, you’re a more sensitive human than me. Basically it does everything a Pista does, but you always have the option of slinging back the roof and expanding your view/aural appreciation.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
More theatrical than either a McLaren 720S Spider or GT2/3 RS, more outright fun than a Lamborghini Performante Spyder, the Ferrari Pista Spider sits in a little niche of its own. Ok, so the whole slightly arrogant Ferrari pitch is a bit offputting at times, but you just can’t argue with the execution of the vehicle itself. I’m not a Ferrari devotee, but a blast in a Pista Spider on a sunny day on a good road will remind you what’s good about life. It will satisfy a racer and a poser in equal measure, delight pretty much everyone. The Spider loses very little dynamically when compared to the Pista Coupe, and gains quite a lot in terms of immersion in the wider experience. Convertibles - especially these neat little folding hardtops - don’t feel very compromised. If you don’t believe me, find a track, drop the top and launch to 124mph in eight seconds dead, and drop through the gears into a tight set of corners. You’ll be a convert in ten.