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2010 Ferrari F430 Spider
Drop-top motoring doesn’t get any better than this
By Jeff Voth, Oct. 20, 2009
The magnificent charcoal black metallic 2010 Ferrari F430 Spider attacked the sharp right-hand corner in third gear, cresting the leeward side of Topanga State Park at full song. My neck muscles strained in anticipation of the next curve as the harmonic resonance of pistons and camshafts reverberated off the rock face in glorious accord.

FAST FACTS

1. Like the coupe, the F430 Spider is powered by a high-revving 4.3-liter V8 with 490-hp and 343 ft-lbs of torque.

2. The drop-to F430 is rated at 3.6 seconds to 60 mph and a top speed of 193 mph.

3. Spider models start at around $217,000.

A light touch of the F1-inspired paddle shifter and fourth gear engaged just prior to redline. The glass encased V8 engine barked an obedient response, building once again to a climactic crescendo as I held on for the ride of my life.

A quick left turn was followed by an even faster right and I had just enough time to check the mirror for any signs of flashing lights as I reached for fifth gear on the short uphill sprint to the top.

Reaching the summit, I briefly entertained the idea of selecting sixth gear, but all thoughts were quickly dashed as I pushed hard on the brakes and came to an immediate, blood-rushing-to-my-brain stop. It seems even in the mountainous back roads around Beverly Hills and Bel Air; nothing stops the fun of driving an exotic sports car faster than a good old California traffic jam.

PLENTY OF POSH AND SPICE UNDERFOOT

Driving the F430 Spider, even in self-absorbed California, is unlike anything I had experienced previously. Young men and women swoon at the sight, while other drivers give a slight nod of the head or a hardy thumbs-up as it passes.

Front row parking at even the most lavish hotels and restaurants is guaranteed, with valet’s jockeying for the right to drive the F430 Spider, if only for a few minutes.

At the heart of every Ferrari is the longstanding tradition of domination in Formula One racing. From Phil Hill to Gilles Villeneuve and most recently the incomparable Michael Schumacher, Ferrari and winning go hand in hand. What Ferrari learns on the track is sure to be incorporated into every new car they design and the F430 Spider is no exception.

The 2009 F430 Spider is propelled by a lightweight V8 engine that produces a lusty 490 horsepower at 8500 rpm. To engage the engine, the driver is required to press a large “Engine Start” button located on the left of the steering wheel. Pushing this button produces a smile inducing 343 ft-lbs of torque at 5250 rpm and an exhaust note to die for.

The 2009 Ferrari F430 Spider is capable of accelerating from 0-62 mph in a mere 4.1 seconds and achieves a top speed in excess of 193 mph.

F1 designed paddle shifters eliminate the need for the typical stick and clutch arrangement found in most high performance sports cars. Mounted behind the steering wheel on both the left and right sides of the column, they provide what is, in my opinion, the best option for manually shifting gears.

A coordinated flip of both paddles places the F430 Spider in neutral. Engaging the right lever moves the transmission into 1st gear, with each successive gear available by a simple flick of the finger.

Downshifts are achieved using the left paddle, while reverse can only be activated by coming to a complete stop, placing the F430 Spider in neutral and then pressing a button located on the center floor console.

On the rare occasion when automatic shifting is preferred, the F430 Spider easily accommodates with an override button.

F1-INSPIRED SUSPENSION AND STYLE

Ferrari’s unique electronic differential (E-diff), first introduced on the F430 in 2005, offers the ultimate in performance and dynamic control with the straightforward twist of a dial also located on the steering wheel. The cleverly designed “mannetino system,” governs vehicle dynamics through a series of seamless adjustments to suspension settings, transmission shift speed and the F430 Spider’s electronic stability control system.

The F430 Spider stands a mere 48.6-inches high. Riding on 225/35/19 tires in the front and 285/35/19 tires in back, it provides the illusion of being at full speed even when stopped at a red light.

Airflow around the Ferrari F430 Spider is carefully channeled by means of superior aerodynamics on both the upper and lower surfaces. The only downside is the need to carefully crawl up driveway inclines and speed bumps in order to avoid hearing the sacrilegious sounds of scraping metal resonating from underneath.

Inside, power seats on both sides offer excellent body support and large circular gauges provide instant feedback regardless of your speed. Climate control settings are easily adjusted and even the AM/FM/CD player is simple to use.

Dropping the ragtop to let the sun shine in takes a mere 25 seconds. Be prepared, however, to draw a crowd as the carefully choreographed movements of the canvas roof reveal a mechanical ballet worthy of admission.

Trunk space is minimal at best, but I was amazed to find we could actually place a medium sized suitcase along with a laptop computer bag completely inside and still close the lid without incident. Louis Vuitton would be proud.

THE VERDICT

Ferrari ownership is a rite of passage that generally starts with the purchase of a used car from the hallowed halls of Maranello, Italy. Wait times for new models can be up to 2 years long. Is it worth the time and energy necessary to get on the A list? Anyone standing in line currently thinks so.

Drool-inducing good looks and snob appeal aside, when all is said and done, the estimated $220,000 price is in many ways a bargain. Should my pockets ever grow deep enough to afford such a car, the magnificent sound of the Ferrari V8 and the intoxicating sensory overload provided by the celebrity silhouette of the 2009 Ferrari F430 Spider will be impossible to resist.

LOVE IT
  • Excellent power delivery
  • Incredible poise
  • Easy to drive fast
LEAVE IT
  • Fuel economy
  • Limited storage space
  • Stereo system confusing

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