Scuderia, the South African Ferrari distributors, chose to launch the new Ferrari F8 Spider to coincide with a makeover for its dealership in Bryanston Johannesburg in early March 2020. The event coincided with welcoming the new, open-topped version of the F8 Tributo launched at the same venue last year, called the F8 Spider.
There are some Spider details specific to the new open-topped car, although to refer to it as such discounts the fact that as it employs a hardtop. However, when the top is in place, this car bestows all the significant benefits of the coupe (or Berlinetta) structure as used on the F8 Tributo.
The launch of the new Spider was a "virtually static" affair. When the Scuderia team gave the go-ahead, Scuderia's Experience Manager Caleb Schroeter lit up the turbocharged 3.9-litre V8 of the new car, and the excitement levels rose accordingly.
They remained at fever-pitch as he drove the car slowly to a turnstile at the centre of the newly-re-jigged showroom, stopped the car, and then proceeded to lower the roof.
'Unique firing order'
In deference to the newness of the vehicle and the fact the engine was cold, he resisted the urge to blip the throttle and send the revs soaring. But even just off idle, there is an urgency to that Ferrari V8 with its unique firing order that sounds like nothing else out there.
It takes just 14 seconds to lower or raise the roof, and it is something you can do up to a speed of 45km/h. The hardtop is constructed in two panels, which are quickly and compactly folded away above the engine and behind the cockpit. A glass panel is retained in place behind the driver and passenger seats, but this can be lowered too. All the better to listen to that unique Ferrari soundtrack on a warm summer's evening!
A short drive, which totalled about 25 meters, was a demonstration of the power of Ferrari as a brand, rather than the power of this specific sports car. To get a handle on that, you'd have to take it somewhere you could safely unleash 530kW and 770Nm of torque through the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and those fat 305/30 ZR 20 tyres at the rear.
Yes, the F8 Spider is still a rear-wheel-drive machine, and this is part of its appeal, as taming the beast requires a degree of concentration and involvement that is paramount.
If you hook the F8 Spider up correctly off the line, it will accelerate to 100km/h in 2.9 seconds and to 200km/h in 8.2sec. The top speed is 340km/h and no doubt every single person at the launch was imagining doing just that if the opportunity should ever arise in the future.
2020 Ferrari F8 Spider. Image: QuickPic
A classic look
There are several minor visual tweaks that the F8 Spider enjoys in comparison to its "Berlinetta" stablemate, the Tributo. Ferrari mentions these without being too specific, but a noticeable stylistic and aerodynamic difference is the presence of twin buttresses behind the cockpit, giving the Spider its classic competition-sports car look.
Another difference is the engine cover, which is solid metal on the Spider. At the same time, the F8 Tributo has a transparent engine cover made of Lexan, which enables you to see the twin Turbo V8 without having to remove the lid!
Ferrari or rather, its distributor here, Scuderia, had an excellent sales month in January when it sold 17 new cars, which is quite possibly an all-time record in this country. I remember times when Ferraris would sell at the rate of about five to 10 a year in South Africa!
As a matter of interest, the new Ferrari F8 Spider sells for R6.1-million.
I asked Caleb Schroeter what his little 25-metre drive was like as he walked by our group to grab a cup of espresso. He looked at me thoughtfully and then a small smile played across its face. "It was great", he said, and funnily enough, I believed him. That moment encapsulated the spirit that prevails at Scuderia South Africa during this time. When even a drive across a showroom floor is something to be savoured.
2020 Ferrari F8 Spider. Image: QuickPic