LAST week it was Porsche’s new 911, this week Ferrari’s new 458 Spider has been outed ahead of its official unveiling. While Ferrari won’t formally release pictures of the new car until tonight, several websites are already running official press images of the car.
The Spider version of the 458 Italia will be unveiled to the public at September’s Frankfurt motor show, where it will swap the soft fabric roof of the drop-top F430 it replaces with a fancier folding hardtop.
The leaked images confirm that the new roof has forced Ferrari to do away with the clear engine cover it has used since the 360 drop-top was launched in 2000.
The 458 Spider is Ferrari’s second model to feature a retractable metal roof, joining the California released in 2009.
The California will remain the more affordable of the drop-top duo, relatively speaking, with its $459,650 price tag.
The 430 Spider carried a $40,000 premium over the 430 coupe, though the 458’s more complex and therefore more expensive roof system is likely to widen the price gap. With the 458 coupe costing $526,950, the Spider could be pitched closer to $600,000 when it lands on our shores in 2012.
Ferrari would have been faced with a greater challenger to engineer a folding metal roof for the 458 because its 425kW V8 – shared with the coupe – is positioned behind the driver.
The California’s V8 is placed under the bonnet in a front-engined layout.
The additional weight of the metal roof would inevitably have some effect on performance for a car, though it’s unlikely to be considered slow when the coupe version can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 3.4 seconds.
Company insiders suggest Ferrari has moved to a folding hardtop because a fabric roof is susceptible to cold weather – becoming too brittle – in Ferrari’s key regions of the US (particularly the north-east) and China, where temperatures can drop to as low as minus 30 degrees Celcius.
Ferrari has previously confirmed that it will replicate the three-model F430 range by introducing another Scuderia variant that will give the 458 even more power and racetrack-focused handling.
Replacements for the 599 and Enzo hypercar are expected in 2012 before an updated California arrives in 2013.
See here for more details on the Ferrari’s next generation Enzo.
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