Ferrari 458 Spider
Retractable Hard Top
The 458 Spider is the world's first midrear- engined car to sport a retractable hard top. In fact, the car's entire concept of combining comfort, lightweight construction, functionality and performance, was built around that feature. The first advantage of a retractable hard top is that it significantly improves in-car comfort when closed, as it insulates occupants from both weather and noise.
The 458 Spider's unique hard top doesn't deform because of the pressure field that builds up at high speeds either. Cabin space and comfort are actually improved thanks to the roof's double curvature, an element made possible by its aluminium construction but impossible to achieve with a traditional canvas soft top. The retractable hard top's structure is incredibly light too, thanks to a simple yet ingenious mechanism. It actually weighs 40 kg less than a traditional hard top and 25 kg less than a fabric version. Its simplicity also ensures its speedy and graceful deployment as well as ensuring it is extremely compact and aerodynamically efficient. As the two sections of the roof rotate simultaneously, the 458 Spider's hard top takes just 14 seconds to deploy or retract.
It also tucks away neatly into a 100 litre space in front of the engine bay – a huge achievement given that the roofs on most retractable hard top cars usually take up 150-200 litres. However, this incredible compactness was vital to retaining the superb aerodynamics and styling of the rear of the car and also the engine's mid-rear position. Drop-top driving is an absolutely uniquely exhilarating experience. However, correct distribution of the airflow inside the cockpit is vital to ensuring occupants fully enjoy the top-down experience without any unpleasant turbulence. This is why Ferrari has installed an electric wind stop in the 458 Spider: once the hard top has completed folding away, the latter automatically raises to about a third of its maximum height, the optimal position established in wind tunnel testing on a 1:1 scale model. That position may, however, be adjusted by the driver both with the top up or down. It can be completely lowered so that occupants get the full benefit of the car's soundtrack even when the car is in coupé configuration.
Design-wise, these results are the product of having moved the cut-line for the start of the roof from the waist-line to the top of the B-pillar. This simplifies the shape of the roof, making it two-dimensional with the result that it can be divided into two sections which overlap during folding.
The 458 Spider is powered by the midrear 570 hp 4499 cc GDI V8 that was named International Engine of the Year 2011. It delivers absolutely exceptional performance and is the state of the art in terms of engine technology. One of the main differences between this installation and that of the coupé version lies in the location of the engine air intakes. These are no longer on the B-pillars of the car, as was the case with the 458 Italia, but have been moved back to the rear spoiler where the gearbox and clutch radiators are all situated. The new air intake position also meant that the inlet tracts had to be redesigned to guarantee drivers of the 458 Spider the same driving pleasure delivered by the naturally aspirated Ferrari V8 with the top down, and a specific mix of intake and exhaust sounds was honed to suit the car's openair remit. Intake and exhaust inputs were equalised at between 3,000 and 5,000 rpm with calibrations of 3-5 dB, thanks to specifically developed silencers.The soundtrack that occupants hear in the cabin is particularly exhilarating with the top up too, thanks to work done on the harmonics. By partially lowering the wind stop in this configuration, drivers will find themselves even more enthralled by the sound.
For a car with these performance characteristics, the 458 Spider is particularly efficient in terms of its fuel consumption and emissions (275g CO2/km). This was achieved through a whole series of modifications, including the introduction of the HELE (High Emotion Low Emissions) System which incorporates key components such as: Stop&Start, which cuts fuel consumption by around 10 percent in urban cycles; a low-pressure fuel pump; Pulse Width Modulation-controlled brushless fans (the brushes are replaced by permanent magnets which completely eliminate friction), resulting in an overall reduction in consumption of around 6 percent; and an electronic variable displacement air conditioning compressor.
This is the now-famous 7-speed plus reverse F1 dual-clutch gearbox that improves both performance and comfort. When the gears shift, the opening and closing phases of the two clutches overlap with the result that shifting time is slashed to practically zero with no torque interruption and the smoothness of an automatic transmission: the result is a benchmark for sportiness, performance and comfort.
The 458 Spider's sporty character is also enhanced by specific attention to the final gear ratio and first and seventh gears. The result is plenty of low-down torque, strong acceleration through the rev range and a seventh that is geared for reaching the car's maximum speed.
The 458 Spider's architecture was developed around the retractable hard top concept with the aim of delivering exceptional handling, safety and lightness. Its second generation aluminium chassis is made at the Polo Scaglietti facility in Modena, a centre of excellence in aluminium fabrication which not only benefits from Ferrari's own in-house skill-set but also associated universities and technical partners worldwide. Several different types of aluminium alloy are used to make the 458 Spider's chassis, each one with its own specific function: two alloys are used to produce thinner castings (30% thinner than the first generation); five high resistance alloys were used for the extrusions (yield strength is 80% higher than on previous alloys); three for the thin panelling (-25%); specific alloys were also used for the front and rear crash boxes to guarantee maximum energy absorption. Alongside these high-tech materials, Ferrari also uses the most advanced forming technologies (including Superplastic forming to make highly complex shapes less than 1 mm thick). Various different joining techniques were also adopted to reduce weight and to deliver a high standard of structural rigidity. Significant attention was also focused on minimising the number of components in the car (particularly in the case of the door structure), to improve both performance and safety. New solutions include more robust sills and the introduction of structural buttresses which considerably increase torsional rigidity and beam stiffness (both + 23 per cent compared to the Ferrari F430's figures). The latter also provide roll-over protection, a function normally the sole domain of two highly visible roll-bars. This solution guarantees an exceptional standard of safety and easily exceeds the most severe safety requirements in this regard.
The 458 Spider has double wishbones with L-arms at the front and a Multilink layout at the rear. The result is greater longitudinal flexibility which improves the car's ability to absorb bumps. This in turn reduces noise levels in the cockpit and boosts transverse rigidity, improving handling. Combined with specially developed tyres, these characteristics increase overall vertical rigidity (+35 percent with respect to the F430) for less body roll. They also guarantee a more direct steering ratio (-30 percent compared to the F430 - 11.9° compared to 16.9°) and thus require less steering input.
CONTROL SYSTEMSE-DIFF3, F1-Trac, High Performance ABS
The E-DIFF and F1-Trac control software are contained in a single Bosch ESP ECU, cutting communication time between them to an absolute minimum. Evolved control logics boost performance still further too.
- E-DIFF3: new Power ON strategies;
- E-DIFF3 / F1 Trac integration: further evolution;
- High Performance ABS: new strategies (high grip-specific) integrated with E-DIFF.
The E-DIFF3 is now even more seamlessly integrated with the F1-Trac and uses a series of its parameters (including grip estimation) both in positions in which F1- Trac is active (Sport – Race) and in which it is deactivated (CT-off and ESC-off).
This evolution means that torque distribution coming out of bends (Sport, Race, CT-off , ESC-off positions) is better than in previous models, resulting in improved traction, i.e. higher Longitudinal Acceleration values and better dynamic behaviour on the limit. This also means less steering wheel activity. The 458 Spider also delivers absolutely outstanding braking distances (100-0 km/h in 32.8 metres; 200-0 km/h in 128.5). These superb figures come as a result of the development and optimisation of control logics and systems in collaboration with Bosch, the evolution of the Ferrari Pre-Fill logic to minimise response times, specific ABS calibration for medium-high grip situations, and the integration of E-DIFF3 and ABS control logics to guarantee both more precise vehicle speed estimation in braking under ABS, resulting in better control of braking torque, and greater stability. The 458 Spider's tyres were also specially developed with a particular focus on grip to bring them in line its superb braking system.
Magnetorheological Suspension Control
SCM (Magnetorheological Suspension Control) suspension made its debut on the 599 GTB in 2006 and the 458 Spider is equipped with the evolved SCM2 version. It uses a viscous fluid which reacts instantaneously to an electronically controlled magnetic field generated inside the damper. The control software adjusts the intensity of the magnetic field every millisecond. The ECU (-50 percent input time) and the dampers themselves have both evolved since the previous generation. The new ECU guarantees improved:
- control system response (ECU SW): 1ms;
- maximum current generation time (ECU HW): <5ms vs <10ms;
- maximum damper force generation time (HW ECU + Damper): 8ms v 15 ms;
New damper with new piston rod bushing:
- Reduced internal friction (-35%): more precise small-bump control (vibration comfort).
The 458 Spider's Racing manettino puts the emphasis on sportier settings without ruling out opportunities for driving in lower grip situations. The manettino is used to configure parameters for the various electronic control systems.
The best manettino setting for dealing with low grip situations is WET. SPORT and RACE are recommended for day-today driving on roads in normal conditions, and provide either a more comfortable drive or a more exhilarating experience, respectively. Opting for CT-off (traction control deactivated) or ESC-off (both traction control and stability control deactivated) settings is only advised on high grip surfaces.
Suspension Decoupling Button
It is possible to decouple the 458 Spider's suspension damping logic from whatever electronic control configuration has been selected on the manettino. The damper decoupling button offers improved “filtering” of uneven road surfaces. This translates into improved performance and handling on uneven and broken surfaces (such as the Nürburgring or a badly asphalted road).
Suspension decoupling can be selected in all manettino positions with the exception of WET in which the most compliant damper setting is always engaged.
Brakes and tyres
Carbon-ceramic material brakes have been fitted as standard with every Ferrari model since January 2008. Aside from guaranteeing benchmark braking, carbon-ceramic material discs require minimal maintenance.
The 458 Spider's brakes are as follows:
- front carbon-ceramic disc (398 x 223 x 36 mm), aluminium 6-pot calipers;
- rear carbon-ceramic discs (360 x 233 x 32 mm), aluminium 4-pot calipers.
The performance benefits are inextricably linked to the integration of the car's dynamic control systems: consistently high performance, shortened braking distance and lighter weight. Stopping distances:
- 100 km/h–0 reduced to 32.8 m;
- 200 km/h–0 reduced to 128.5 m.
- standard alloy wheels, 20'' front and rear, with 235/35 ZR20” front tyres and 295/35 ZR20” at the rear.
- Tyres available: Michelin, Bridgestone and Pirelli.
In terms of aerodynamics the 458 Spider sets a new benchmark for convertible models. Taking inspiration from F1 single-seaters, Ferrari's engineers focused their design energies on aerodynamic efficiency, specifically on reducing drag and increasing downforce. The result is that the 458 Spider is about 12 percent more aerodynamically efficient than the F430 Spider. Its nose features two small aeroelastic winglets which generate downforce at the front of the car and, as speed rises, deform to reduce the section of the radiator inlets and cut drag. There are also two side diffusers on the car's underbody which are set back from the spoiler, and the trailing edges of the rear wheelarches feature a radius that helps guarantee efficient brake cooling, as is the case on the coupé. Major innovations specific to the Spider include the geometry of the double curvature roof, the buttresses, rear nolder, and the intake grilles on the engine cover. The longitudinal roof curvature allows the air flow to quickly re-attach behind the roof, increasing downforce and boosting the efficiency of the rear of the car as a whole, a critical factor for a spider: in fact, the 458 Spider is just as aerodynamically efficient as the 458 Italia. The transverse roof curvature together with the specific buttress design ensures that the air flow hugs the car's flanks and is efficiently channelled to the engine's rear air intakes and clutch and gearbox oil radiators. The rear spoiler also features a prominent nolder profile which improves the aerodynamic efficiency of the engine and radiator intakes. The engine cover grilles also have the function of sucking air in from the roof and buttresses, thus helping to cool the engine bay.