This is the Ferrari F430’s swansong, the Scuderia Spider 16M. Just 499 will be produced to celebrate Ferrari’s 16 Formula One constructors’ championships, hence the 16M bit in the name. Its underpinnings are familiar from the Ferrari Scuderia coupé we first drove in 2007, but the roof’s come down and the price has gone up – by around £30k to £198,524.
Ferrari certainly knows how to make money!
It does. At £171k, the Scuderia coupe was £36k more expensive than the F430 coupe, yet the 16M is £55k more expensive than the F430 Spider. However, every 16M is already sold. Seems that in a tough economic climate, the limited edition route has been a clever way of upping profit margins and ensuring strong demand.
Hasn’t Ferrari just released a V8 convertible?
Yes, we drove the California last year, but the Scuderia is a very different beast. The engine’s behind the driver for a start, the roof is fabric (not folding metal) and it’s much, much more hardcore. The basics are essentially the same as the Scuderia coupe, so the 4.3-litre V8 is lightly tweaked for another 20bhp and 4lb ft; the aero is fettled; the interior revamped; the bumpers and sideskirts now produced from lightweight RTM; and there are titanium springs and lighter weight ZF dampers.
So, while the Spider is inevitably heavier than the coupe (by 90kg), it is a handy 80kg lighter than the F430 drop-top it’s based on. Standard equipment also includes carbon ceramic brakes and a better version of the F1-derived six-speed clutchless manual that are offered as options on the F430.
So it’s a bit raucous, then?
Yes and no. Part of the brilliance of either Scuderia is the way they marry hardcore thrills with daily driver usability. The suspension is adjustable, but for road use you need no more than the softest setting – it’s compliant, never crashy, and yet you couldn’t wish for more body control. The interior, too, manages to be both race-car special (lightweight seats, no carpets, simple carbon door cards) without feeling at all uncomfortable or spare.
Does the roof ruin it?
No. Okay, so it looks a little awkward roof-up, but roof-down the 16M simply looks like it was designed that way from the off. To lower the roof, simply press and hold one button for around 25 seconds, and it folds away neatly beneath a pair of slinky roadster pods. Roof-up, it’s refined; roof down, occupants feel connected to the elements without being battered by them.
But the best thing about losing the roof is the noise. My god this car is loud: a flat, bassy blare at idle climaxing in the next best thing to an F1 car at peak revs.
Niggles? You can’t lower the roof on the move and you have to keep the button pressed for the full 25 seconds it takes for it to lower. Honestly, you'll get RSI.
Surely the Scuderia coupé handles better?
Without a back-to-back comparison it was impossible to tell for sure, but the Spider felt as composed and well balanced as the coupé – user-friendly, but lairy-on-demand too. There’s a little understeer if you push too hard too early in a tight corner, but get the nose tucked in, then feed in the power and the tail will come into play.
That lopping the roof off the Scuderia hasn’t ruined the driving experience of this track-honed machine is pretty impressive. But the fact that it’s actually intensified it thanks to the extra noise and the buzz of fresh-air motoring – with no loss of poise – is simply astonishing.
The Scuderia 16M really is a brilliant car.
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