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Event : 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

2012 Ferrari 458 Spider - Frankfurt Auto Show

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2011 Ferrari 458 Italia

author photo by Jeffrey Archer

Ferrari has finally revealed an open-air version of its 458 Italia supercar at the Frankfurt Auto Show. The 458 Spider is the world's first mid-engined vehicle to feature a retractable hardtop.

Featuring the same 570-horsepower 4.5-liter V8 as its hardtop counterpart - and the Italia's lightning-quick dual-clutch F1 transmission - the 458 Spider manages to retain most of the coupe's well-proportioned, flowing lines despite losing its top. Major exterior changes are limited to directly behind the 458 Spider's seats, where roll bars and a hood replace the coupe's signature glass engine cover.

Despite its stunning looks and high-revving V8, the 458 Spider's best trick might be its top. Since the 458's engine is located directly behind its passenger compartment, Ferrari faced difficulty finding room for a retractable hardtop. The automaker's ingenious solution is a fully automatic top that rotates 180 degrees in just 14 seconds to lay flat directly above the engine.

While Ferrari used a similar design for its limited-production 575M Superamerica in 2005, here a body-colored panel, extending exotic lines from the roadster's seatbacks into its aggressive rear bodywork, hides the 458 Spider's open top. While this approach to a mid-engined convertible is both simple and elegant, it does have one flaw: onlookers can no longer appreciate the sports car's finely-tuned V8 through glass panels, a celebrated feature of the 458 Spider's soft top predecessors.

But that's a small price to pay to enjoy the 458 Spider's other merits. In addition to the joys of driving with no roof, the 458 Spider can also accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than 3.4 seconds, has nearly 400 pound-feet of torque and a top speed of just under 200 miles per hour.

While Ferrari hasn't set pricing for its 458 Spider, we'd expect it to be considerably more expensive than the coupe, which starts at around $225,000, when it goes on sale this spring.

See more coverage of the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show.

JEFFREY ARCHER is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.
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2012 Ferrari 458 Spider - Frankfurt Auto Show