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by David Zalstein

The Ferrari 458 Spider has had its public debut at the 2012 Melbourne Grand Prix with the Italian manufacturer confirming a $590,000 price tag for the open-top version of the 458 Italia.

The new soft-top lead a parade of 64 Ferraris, with Ferrari Formula One Team Test Driver Marc Gene at the helm, celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Ferrari’s arrival to Australia.

The Ferrari 458 Spider’s folding lid is not your conventional soft-top/hard-top and is entirely aluminium. The Ferrari patented design has taken them a decade to develop and Ferrari says it’s the first ever folding metal roof to be available on a rear mid engine car.

The 458 Spider’s ‘hard-top solution’ sees a 25kg reduction in weight over traditional folding soft-tops and a deployment time of just 14 seconds. New technical tweaks to the chassis are said to give identical levels of structural rigidity with the roof up or down, suggesting the 458 Spider’s performance and handling won’t be compromised despite its open top design.

Another unique feature is that the rear window doubles as the car’s ‘wind stop’ allowing the roof to be lowered in a wider range conditions and eliminating the need for a dedicated ‘wind stop’ as used in most cars. Ferrari claims the new design “will slow and diffuse the air in the cockpit, enabling normal conversation to be held even at speeds over 200km/h”.

The 458 Spider is powered by the same 425kW 4.5-litre direct-injection V8 that sits in the full-time hardtop 458 Italia with Ferrari’s dual-clutch F1 paddle-shift transmission, its E-Diff electronic differential, F1-Trac traction control and high-performance anti-lock brakes.

Ferrari has received plenty of interest in the convertible, meaning the first 18 months of production are already spoken for and the first 458 Spiders will arrive in Australia in the middle of 2012.




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