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2017 Ferrari 488 Spider

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2017 Ferrari 488 Spider Expert Review

By Keith Buglewicz

If the first order of business for a $250,000 supercar is to rock your world, the 2017 Ferrari 488 GTB and Spider have their priorities straight. The seductive exterior, sculpted for maximum downforce at high speeds, makes a racy promise fulfilled by its dynamic abilities. To describe full-throttle acceleration as "fast" is as inadequate as describing the GTB's world-class handling as "sporty." The standard adaptive suspension blends extraordinary handling and a surprisingly decent ride in the way only modern technology can, and the reality-bending thrust is thanks to a monstrously powerful twin-turbocharged V8 and 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Sure, you could pick a Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4 or McLaren 650S, but if your childhood bedroom featured a Ferrari poster, there is no substitute for a 488 GTB.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you have the means, why wouldn't you buy a 2017 Ferrari 488? Whether you prefer the GTB coupe or drop-top Spider, this incredibly fast eyeball magnet screams its Italian heritage from every angle, while communicating your personal success to even the most casual observers.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you're even considering a Ferrari, you've obviously already told logic and reason to take a flying leap. There's nothing pragmatic about buying this car. Rather than alternatives, if you have Ferrari money, you can also flesh out your garage with your Lamborghini and McLaren money as well.

What's New for 2017

The Ferrari 488 was all-new last year...kinda, as it is in many ways a thoroughly revamped version of its predecessor, the 458 Italia. However, this year there are no changes for the 488.

Driving the 488 Spider
Driving Impressions

The only way to truly explore the incredible potential of the Ferrari 488 is on a racetrack, because if you press the accelerator for more than just a few seconds,...

... you've already shattered speed laws to tiny bits. Mash the throttle at any speed, in any gear, and summon a time warp. Yet power is nothing without control, and just to the left of that gas pedal is the brake pedal, which activates carbon-ceramic brakes that shed speed with seatbelt-straining effectiveness, provided you’ve warmed them up. There's no curve that can throw the Ferrari 488 off its pace, as it clings tenaciously to tarmac. The only thing that's more amazing than this Ferrari's dynamic capabilities is how easy and fun it is to drive. Even better, an adaptive suspension and smooth-shifting dual-clutch transmission make the 488 GTB an oddly capable commuter…though there’s nothing sadder than a Ferrari stuck in traffic.

INFOTAINMENT SYSTEM
To describe the infotainment system on the 488 GTB, you'd be underwhelmed: It's to the right of the tachometer, and features a small screen, a knob and just a few buttons. Yet despite the meager description, the system makes controlling audio, navigation and phone functions both quick and intuitive.

MULTI-FUNCTION STEERING WHEEL
Ferrari took a cue from its Formula 1 race cars with its steering wheel, incorporating numerous functions on its spokes, including windshield wipers, engine start, high beams, turn signals and the all-important Manettino drive-mode controller. Despite the complexity, it isn't long before the Ferrari 488 is as intuitive as a Camry.

2017 Ferrari 488 Spider Details
Interior

The Ferrari 488 GTB defies expectations from the moment you sit down, literally, as the tastefully restrained interior requires none of the gymnastics necessary in many other supercars. It's also roomier than you might expect. With the driver's seat adjusted to its rearmost position, an average-sized adult can barely reach the steering wheel and pedals; this is a supercar for tall drivers. As a mid-engine car the trunk is up front, but it offers ample luggage space. If you need even more room, there's a handy parcel shelf behind the seats. In total the 488’s interior is pleasing, functional and unexpectedly livable.

Exterior
2017 Ferrari 488 Spider photo

The 2017 Ferrari 488 is the epitome of modern Ferrari styling. There's the classic mid-engine proportions, all wrapped in a shape that's simultaneously inspiring and completely functional. And by functional, we mean it: At 155 mph the GTB’s meticulously engineered bodywork, scoops, vents and underbody panels combine to generate more than 700 pounds of road-holding aerodynamic downforce, and nothing could be more reassuring when traveling that quickly. While the coupe’s seductive charms are undeniable some buyers prefer unfettered access to wind, sun and adoring onlookers. For them the convertible 488 Spider is the superior choice.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2017 Ferrari 488 comes with all the performance hardware you could want. There's the fabulous drivetrain of course, backed by massive and highly capable carbon-ceramic brakes. Befitting a modern car, there's an infotainment system, here mounted in the gauge cluster, plus an advanced array of electronic aids that enhance handling and performance without sacrificing driver involvement. There's keyless engine start, but you'll have to press the key fob to unlock the doors. Oddly, a rearview camera isn't standard, a notable oversight given the marginal rearward visibility synonymous with mid-engine cars.

Optional Equipment

The Ferrari 488 operates in a price-is-no-object world, so expect options to add up quickly. There's a vast palette of interior themes, exterior paint choices and custom stitching, making the 488 endlessly customizable. For aesthetic impact and, presumably, weight savings, a range of carbon-fiber trim pieces is available, though the prices get comical fast: On our test car, the carbon-fiber bits added more than $70,000. That's pricey, but then again, the interior and exterior did look super-cool. However, the only necessary add-ons are the front and rear parking cameras. At $6,000 they're not cheap, until you crack your $9,600 carbon-fiber rear diffusor.

Under the Hood

The Ferrari 488 GTB and Spider come with only one engine, and it is gloriously showcased beneath the rear glass. Flanked by two turbochargers, the 3.9-liter V8 transmits its heroic 661 horsepower to the rear wheels through a brilliantly quick 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Ferrari crafted the engine control for unique power delivery in each of those seven gears, saving maximum torque for the highest gear, each responding with the immediacy of a naturally aspirated engine. The result is ever more relentless acceleration as you shift upward through the gears. Augmenting that accelerative thrill is the sound of the V8 itself, a melodious song born from a flat-plane crank, equal-length headers, and the endless scrutiny of Ferrari’s engineering staff.

3.9-liter twin-turbocharged V8
661 horsepower @ 8,000 rpm
561 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 mpg (16/22 mpg with stop/start option)

Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.

The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the Ferrari 488 GTB is $256,550, including the $3,750 destination charge, placing it alongside the Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4 or McLaren 650S. The Spider starts at $284,630. That's just to start; anybody buying a 488 will dip into Ferrari’s deep well of options, and if you jump into that well without impunity you'll easily add $100,000 to the asking price. There are more value-priced alternatives, such as the Audi R8, Porsche 911 Turbo and Acura NSX, all of which offer arresting style and performance for around $90,000 less than the 488 GTB. Then again, none of those cars is a Ferrari. Resale data for exotics like the Ferrari 488 is limited, but it's not hard to imagine that exclusivity helps preserve the 488’s value over time. Go ahead; check out KBB.Com Fair Purchase Price to see what the Ferrari is going for in your area!

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