Ferrari has hidden an impressive level of technology in every area of the 458 and it has also made sure that you don’t feel the systems interfering between you and the car.
It all starts with the aluminum space frame of the vehicle, which uses new joining and heat-forming technologies to create bonds between standard aluminum and high-strength aluminum borrowed from aviation. While the open-top version of the F430 was 40 percent less rigid compared to the coupe, in the case of the 458 Spider the value has dropped to 30 percent. You don’t actually feel this when driving the car, except for the moments when you take it on broken roads.
The most impressive part of the Spider's structure is, of course, the folding aluminum roof. Ferrari brought the flipping principle of the 2005 575M Superamerica back on the table, but this time we have two pieces that require a more compact stowing compartment - about 100 liters. The two rotate backwards and fit nicely on top of the V8 engine in the middle. The roof, which uses Ferrari’s design but is built by Webasto, is 25 kg (55 lbs) lighter than the canvas one on the F430 Spider.
Removing the top has made the Spider only 50 kg (110 lbs) beefier that the 458 Italia, so the car tips the scales at 1,430 kg (3,153 lbs).
The vehicle is connected to the road via double wishbone configuration up front, while at the back we get a multi-link layout. The springs have been taken straight from the Coupe, but the magnetorheological dampers, the second generation used by Ferrari, are a tad softer for the Spider. The car’s 20-inch wheels are wrapped in 235/35 ZR20 (Pirelli) rubber up front and 295/35 ZR20 tires at the back.
The rims conceal a set of Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes that use 15.7-inch rotors for the front axle and 14.2-inch rotors for the rear one. These are controlled by a high performance ABS, while the system also uses a Pre-Fill function: whenever the driver takes his foot off the gas pedal, the pistons in the calipers are activated, thus reducing the response time.
It is now time to move on to the heart of the 458, a 4,499cc 90-degree naturally-aspirated V8 engine that delivers 570 hp at 9,000 rpm and 540 Nm (398 lb-ft) of torque at 6,000 rpm. The unit also dictates the name of the car: 4.5 liters spread across 8 cylinders. When air enters the 458's engine, it is channeled into the combustion chamber using an aluminum intake manifold with tracts that are short and as straight as possible. This has a variable geometry and offers, for example, 80 percent of the peak torque at 3,250 rpm. Three pneumatic throttle valves are placed in the central section, between the two plenums and the ECU offers four setups for these valves, depending on the revs. Together with the variable timing for both the intake and the outlet valves, the aforementioned features allows the V8 to be extremely flexible.
Once air enters the cylinders, it is mixed with gasoline that comes via a two-stage, direct-injection process that takes the pressure up to 200 bar.
The engineers worked to lower the piston compression height, as well as using thinner compression rings in order to cut the level of friction between the piston and liner. This is also the reason for which the piston skirt comes with a graphite coating. Ferrari reduced the internal frictions of the unit even further by gifting the dry-sump lubrication system of the powerplant with four scavenger pumps. There are dedicated oil recovery ducts outside the crankcase, with these allowing two of the pumps to pick up oil from the cylinder heads and front & rear of the engine. The remaining two pumps pick up oil from under the crank throws, using recovery ducts that generate a vacuum in the proximity of the crankshaft.
This means that the oil will never land on the rotating crankshaft in excess, so power won't be consumed to overcome friction. In addition to this, the engine oil pressure pump uses a variable geometry that takes up less power when the engine is spinning very fast.
Once the combustion process is complete, the gasses exit the vehicle using a lightweight exhaust system. To keep weight down, the pre-catalytic converter has been removed and the catalytic converter uses a flexible element to attach to the central section of the exhaust. - Thinner and thus lighter metal can be used as less vibrations are sent through the flexible element.
The Prancing Horse offers an official efficiency of 11.8 l/100 km (19.9 mpg) and the CO2 emissions sit at 275 g/km, but these values are achieved using the optional HELE (High Emotions, Low Emissions) system. This offers a fuel efficiency increase of up to 10 percent and includes a stop-start feature, on-demand operation for the air conditioning, fuel pump and various fans, as well as specific transmission software.
Speaking of the transmission, the 458 uses a 7-speed wet dual-clutch Getrag gearbox. This is the same unit found in the California, as well as in the Mercedes SLS. Compared to the California, the shift times have been reduced and there new gear ratios.
The 458's gearbox also integrates the E-Diff 3, an electronically-controlled wet-clutch limited slip differential. The F1-borrowed E-Diff uses a multi-disc clutch for each of the rear axles. These clutches are pressed by hydraulic actuators, which come with valves that are controlled by electronics. The amount of power sent to each wheel depends on the gas pedal position, steering angle, independent wheel rotation and yaw rate.
In the case of the E-Diff 3, the same ECU controls both the differential and the Bosch-supplied F1-Trac stability control system. This uses a new Power On algorithm that works with the F1-Trac logic: since the two join forces, the combined effect is greater than the sum of its parts. The system is also linked to the high-performance ABS.
The diff sends power to the rear wheels both when you're in Power Off mode, turning into a bend and in Power On mode, when you accelerate your way out of a corner. Since the E-Diff now works closer with the F1-Trac, it relies on the latter's calculations, such as grip estimates, even when F1-Trac is off - in the manettino CT Off and CST Off settings.
Ferrari tells us that the result is a longitudinal corner exit acceleration increase of 32 percent. This is backed by a Fiorao test track time of 1 minute 25 seconds, extremely close to the Enzo’s 1:24.90 time. The aforementioned time is the Coupe's one, with the Spider adding 0.5s to that.Continue reading
FERRARI 458 Spider technical data summary
Engine: 4499 cm3 cc V8 Petrol
Dimensions: 178.2 in OR 4526 mm length / 76.3 in OR 1938 mm width / 47.7 in OR 1212 mm height
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