2022 Ferrari F8 Spider
Is the new Ferrari F8 Spider the perfect summertime supercar, and can it take the fight to the mighty McLaren 720S?
The first car I ever fell in love with was a Ferrari. My passion for cars was evident from an early age, something that was no doubt influenced by my father who always had something interesting in the garage. But when I was 14, I somehow managed to convince him to part with money in exchange for a Ferrari 360 Spider, and in that moment, every teenage dream was realised. It was a beautiful example. Finished in Tour De France Blue with Beige leather Daytona seats, and equipped with the classic open-gated manual gearbox. The car was supplied by Meridien Modena, Lyndhurst, with just 800 miles on the clock and I instantly fell for it. I remember the day it was delivered, the long drives, short tunnel blasts and questionable overtakes, and I also remember the day he sold it. Just three months later. To me, Dad purchasing a Ferrari was the best idea he’d ever had, and to this day, I still believe it was. To the old man however, it was anything but.
“The F8 is a complete hoot, not because of the speed, but how well balanced the chassis is”
He was embarrassed by how noisy it was, he loathed always having to move off in second gear because first was jerky, and he hated how often he scraped the underside of the car. So, the miserable sod got rid of it and emotionally scarred a 14-year-old boy in the process. I still haven’t forgiven him. Fast forward another fifteen years and I find myself behind the wheel of that Ferrari 360’s great, great grandson, the F8 Spider. The first thing that strikes me is how habitable it is. Modern technology is such that the supercars of today are now infinitely more refined than they were in the early 2000s. They no longer wake the neighbours, the gearboxes shift for you, and they’re easier to navigate over speed bumps. Some people bemoan the endless march towards usability, but the truth is, supercars are better to live with than they were fifteen to twenty years ago which is important when you consider how expensive they’ve become.
But let’s get straight to the point. Usability has not come at the expense of driver enjoyment. The F8 is a complete hoot, not because of the speed, but how well balanced the chassis is. There are five driving modes to select on the manettino – wet, sport, race, CT OFF, and ESC OFF. Sport is the default driving mode, race sharpens everything up, CT OFF takes race a step further and allows you some slip by backing off the traction control, and ESC OFF takes away the safety net of the driver aids. If you’re a confident peddler, the latter mode is where the F8 really shines. Attempting to slide a 710bhp Ferrari sounds like a big ask that could end badly, but in truth, I haven’t driven a car this well balanced since I stepped out a BMW M2 Competition. The way the rear breaks away, the ability to pick your angle, and the margin for error the F8 offers is magical. There’s a finesse and predictability to it that a rear-wheel drive Lamborghini Huracán doesn’t possess, and it can cut the kind of shapes on demand that a McLaren 720S can’t. It is laugh-out-loud hilarious and utterly beguiling.
The chassis is not without its faults though. Where McLaren has been using a super rigid carbon fibre monocoque since the MP4-12C, Ferrari is using the same aluminium structure that’s been around since the 458. In isolation it’s still a great chassis and to say the F8 feels wobbly would be an exaggeration, but it does give away some dynamic ability compared to a 720S and when you encounter a nasty road undulation you do feel some additional vibrations make their way in to the cabin. Given our test car was a Spider, there’s no doubt that the removal of the roof exasperates the issue, and sure enough, a recent blast round Goodwood Motor Circuit in an F8 Tributo went some way to proving that. Importantly however, what it relinquishes in outright dynamic ability, it makes up for in fun factor, and the F8 is capable of a level of hoonery that should not be possible in a car with this much performance.
Despite the brilliance of the chassis, it’s the engine that’s been racking up the awards in recent years. Purists scoffed when the 488 went turbocharged, but Ferrari’s approach to forced induction is such that their 3.9 litre V8 motor feels naturally aspirated. The technical data speaks for itself. It makes 710bhp at a lofty 8,000rpm and 567lb ft at 3,250rpm. This is by far the most responsive turbocharged car I’ve driven, even compared to a Portofino with which it shares its engine. Throttle response is instant, there’s no turbo lag, and the delivery is wonderfully linear. No torque spikes or breathlessness as you approach the limiter, just neat power delivery and a rampant top end with all the horses available at the red line. And wow, is it fast. It doesn’t slingshot you down the road in the same way a 720S does, but it’s still every bit as rapid in a straight line to the point where deploying it all on the public road isn’t advisable. It’s the type of performance that outstrips your ability to think in real time, the car always seemingly ahead of your power to concentrate. If you want to unleash the speed then just be damn sure you know what’s half a mile down the road. In case you’re wondering, it covers zero to 62mph in 2.9 seconds, 0-124mph in 8.2 seconds, and it will top out at 211mph. If were going to pick faults, the only one would concern the noise, or lack thereof. It’s certainly a tuneful engine but it’s not as loud as the V8s of old, even with the redesigned Inconel exhaust manifolds which are 5dB louder than a 488’s.
Distributing all that power is a 7-speed dual-clutch F1 transmission. Quite simply, the gearbox is in a class of one. The changes have race car levels of snap. It takes longer to pull one of the beautiful, carbon fibre paddles than it does for the gear to fire home, and because the paddles are mounted to the steering column, you’re never left guessing which order up and down is when applying lock. The steering is also razer-sharp but pin-point accurate which makes placing the car on the road easy, and also helps with gathering the rear end up when you decide to turn all the driver aids off. In the F8, the EPAS system feels as though it’s been recalibrated to offer some additional weight compared to other models in the Ferrari range, but to say it offers detailed feedback would be untrue. After a few miles you learn to build a rhythm with it, and the car never feels anything other than light on its feet. The nose tucks in to corners and you can feel the mass rotating around you, which again is the mark of well-balanced chassis. The body control is also kept in check, but it does roll about a bit more than a 720S Spider. Having said that, if dynamic superiority is of the utmost importance to you, then you should probably be opting for a Tributo over a Spider. Overall, though, the drop-top F8 is a beautifully judged road car and when the sun’s out, there are few cars on the planet you would rather be driving.
When you’re not exploring the performance envelope, the F8 is pleasingly refined at normal road speeds. Key to this is the famous bumpy road button on the steering wheel which slackens off the suspension irrespective of which driving mode you’re in. It lends the car a suppleness, an ease of use that’s not normally associated with supercars of this calibre, and when you’re attacking a country road, the additional give in the suspension offers you the confidence to push on. With the roof off, the extra 93 million miles of headroom means you benefit from fantastic all-round visibility, as well as direct access to the V8 soundtrack. On the one hand it’s a driver’s car, but on the other it’s usable for long trips and leisurely Sunday drives, if that’s your kind of thing.
The habitability doesn’t stop at how well engineered the package is. The cabin is also a beautiful place to spend time. I won’t drone on about how Ferrari interiors suffer from poor ergonomics because it’s now par for the course, however, something you can’t fault is the sheer quality of it. With a starting price of £225,897 – our test car was optioned to £327,153 – you would hope that you’re getting the finest materials included in your purchase, and fortunately, that’s what Ferrari offer. The Nero leather with yellow stitching complimented the Giallo Modena paint perfectly. There was Alcantara for the lower dash and door handles, and titanium for the air vents. The unlacquered carbon fibre was smooth to the touch and a welcome departure from the glossy finishes found elsewhere. On first acquaintance, you would be forgiven for fearing the seats will leave you with chronic back ache, given how firm they are, but in reality, they’re supportive long distance companions. I spent much of my weekend in the car and not once did the seat cause me any discomfort.
The infotainment takes some time to learn given you can access various menus using the main 10.1-inch touchscreen display, but also operate the same functions from the two screens that flank the central rev counter. Once you learn its idiosyncrasies, you’ll be fine, but it does require some spare time and a cup of coffee to figure out. Trying to educate yourself on the move isn’t something you want to be doing. That aside, the system is attractively designed with neat graphics, and the central rev counter with the prancing horse logo is a special thing to observe. The interior in general is a special place to be, and if you’re someone who likes to be seen in a car, then a yellow F8 Spider is as much of a statement as any vehicle.
Given the amount of time we’ve spent with the McLaren 720S, it’s easy to drive the F8 and make meaningful comparisons. Ultimately, however, a group test including a Lamborghini Huracán Evo would be needed to draw any conclusions as to which car is best. In isolation though, the Ferrari F8 Spider is an incredibly special machine. It provokes an emotional response, and not just because of sweet teenage memories, but because it dazzles and charms its way in to your heart with its care free demeanour and sense of fun. Sure, you can take an F8 to a track and lay down some serious lap times, but as far as road going supercars are concerned, it is a beautifully judged and utterly wonderful car to drive.
“Quite simply, the gearbox is in a class of one. The changes have race car levels of snap”
The interior in the Ferrari F8 is made with the finest materials
Spot the yellow prancing horse. The black and yellow interior complemented the exterior paint perfectly, especially with the roof down.
We’re hard on the brakes in to this corner. The F8 Spider is set up beautifully for our UK country roads
Technical Specifications / REDLINE RATING 9/10
- Engine 3,902cc twin-turbo V8
- Max Power 710bhp @ 8,000rpm
- Max Torque 567lb ft @ 3,250rpm
- 0-62mph 2.9 secs
- Max Speed 211mph
- Weight 1,400kg
- Price £225,897
Even when it’s cloudy, the Ferrari F8 Spider is sure to brighten your day. The roof can also be put up while on the move, which helps