The fastest spider in Ferrari’s long history

The Ferrari 488 Pista Spider has been around since August but only now, at the Paris Motor Show, did it make its European public debut. On this occasion, Ferrari presented a more detailed rundown of the Pista Spider’s bag of secrets and what sets it apart from the older and slower 488 Spider.

The Full Story

New Details Emerge for the 2019 Ferrari 488 Pista Spider Exterior
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Making a spider, or any other form of open-top car, isn’t an easy task.

You always have to fend off the rigidity losses that are created by the lack of a permanent roof by strengthening the chassis and you have to find ways to cut weight as, most definitely, the hardtop or soft top will add to the total balance. It’s, sometimes, a more ingenious craft than building the coupe.

We know that the power figure remains at 720 horsepower with 568 pound-feet of torque, which keeps the top speed at a mind-numbing 211 mph, matching the coupe. What we didn’t know up until now was how much tech sharing there was between the 488 Pista, the spiritual successor of the 458 Speciale Aperta, and Ferrari’s racing 488s from the Challenge series and from the World Endurance Championship. It’s all about racing solutions trickling down to the road car.

The 488 Pista Spider debuted at Pebble Beach this summer as the drop-top version of the 488 Pista Coupe launched back in March. Appearance-wise, the spider sports an almost identical look to the coupe with numerous dive planes, chiseled areas, air intakes, and purposeful front and rear bumpers that tell you this car will take no prisoners on the race track.

New Details Emerge for the 2019 Ferrari 488 Pista Spider Exterior
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The aggressive front end, with its active aerodynamic elements, is borrowed from the coupe and is an obvious departure from the original 488 Spider design.

In fact, the plunging nose with its massive air intake on the front hood that communicates with the diffuser (known as the S-duct) is a sign of major changes done underneath. The position of the radiators was changed and their rake has been inverted which means they are now inclined towards the back end to direct hot air to the underbody ahead of the front wheels. This improves the efficiency of the intercoolers while also reducing drag at the front.

The air intakes that used to be on the rear quarters have been moved and are now located at the back, a solution that Ferrari first employed on the 488 Challenge. The remodeled rear wing that regulates pressure areas around the inlets is another aid in terms of performance. Visibly, at the back, the two substantial exhaust pipes stick out just above the bold diffuser which tells a tale of many tweaks and improvements of the underbody for improved aerodynamic efficiency. There are also two more cut-outs in the read bumper, just below the taillights which help keep the brakes cool. In effect, what Ferrari has done was take the body kits of their championship-winning race cars and implement it in a more pedestrian, but still purposeful, way to their road car. This way, the 488 Pista Spider is 20% more efficient aerodynamically than the 488 Spider.

As with the Pista Coupe, the Spider was presented with a racing-inspired color scheme. The white base color is underlined by blue elements, such as the side skirts, the winglets and part of the splitter at the front, the diffuser and the rear cover, as well as a three blue stripes, with the thicker one in between, that run along the middle of the car.

New Details Emerge for the 2019 Ferrari 488 Pista Spider Interior
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The bold exterior is matched by an equally bold and exquisitely-detailed interior with chiseled bucket seats and everything we’ve come to expect inside a Ferrari.

But what’s more stunning is the performance.

The Pista Spider has 50-horsepower more than the 488 Spider making it the most powerful open-top Ferrari ever made. Its 720-horsepower is reached at 8,000 rpm while max torque is available at 3,000 rpm from that glorious 3.9-liter twin-turbocharged V-8. Knowing that the roof will add some 200 pounds to the overall weight, Ferrari looked for ways to shave it off.

The Inconel exhaust manifolds, a lighter crankshaft and flywheel, and titanium con-rods, all using F1-derived technologies add up to a total weight loss of about 40 pounds of engine-related weight. The engine also has thinner cylinder liners coupled with strengthened cylinder heads and pistons as well as a new camshaft profile.

More weight is lost by using carbon fiber for certain body parts such as the bumpers and the engine cover. This keeps the power-to-weight ratio identical to that of the coupe and assures that the spider accelerates to 62 mph in just 2.85 seconds.

New Details Emerge for the 2019 Ferrari 488 Pista Spider Exterior
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There is also wizardry going on in the suspension and damping department, as well as the intelligent systems that keep you on the road and make you feel like a better driver.

The Spider benefits from a lateral dynamics control system, Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer (FDE), that uses software to adjust the brake pressure at the calipers. The car also has the sixth generation of the Side Slip Control System (SSC). The Pista Spider rides on new Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires.

This is undoubtedly an impressive piece of kit, one that lapped the Fiorano track in under 1:22 seconds. Judging by the coupe and all of Ferrari’s previous road car releases in the past half a decade, the Pista Spider should be an utter joy to drive, not only down the French Riviera but also hard down a race track - if you can afford the $410,000+ price tag.

Further Reading

New Details Emerge for the 2019 Ferrari 488 Pista Spider Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Ferrari 488 Pista Spider.

2018 Ferrari 488 Pista
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Read our full review on the 2018 Ferrari 488 Pista.

2016 Ferrari 488 Spider High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Ferrari 488 Spider

2016 Ferrari 488 GTB Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2016 Ferrari 488 GTB.

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