Ferrari opens up on the 488 Spider, a 661 horsepower drop-top

FRANKFURT -- It's a story that's been told time and time again, yet with each telling it gets more and more exciting. It goes something like this: Ferrari unveils a new generation of V-8 supercar, then maybe a year later comes the convertible version. In the early days, there were compromises to be made -- extra weight from the folding roof and compromised handling from the flexier chassis and so forth. But with each generation those compromises are minimized. In this new 488 Spider, the decision between hard-top and drop-top will be more difficult than ever.

Like the 458 before, the 488 Spider eschews a traditional fabric convertible top, instead going with a retractable hard unit that splits into two pieces before tucking itself neatly and dutifully into the trunk. That retraction or erection takes just 14 seconds, the same as the 458 Spider that came before, and even while the car is in motion -- though Ferrari isn't saying how fast you can be going while doing it.

Ferrari also isn't saying how much of a weight penalty buyers of the new Spider will pay versus the normal GTB, but the outgoing 458 Spider gained about 100 pounds over its hard-top predecessor. Look for a similar figure with the 488.

Power still comes from that new, twin-turbo V-8, a whopping 661 horses worth at 8,000 rpm. That's up 100 from the old 458, enough to sprint from zero to 60 in less than 3 seconds, while a new exhaust will ensure the Spider has a distinctive sound compared to the coupe. The Spider also gets all the GTB's aerodynamic tweaks, including an advanced diffuser and a sculpted under-tray designed to keep the thing planted to the road without any unnecessary wings and fins.

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The top drops on the 488 Spider in just 14 seconds. Ferrari

Ferrari has not announced a price premium for the Spider over the 488 GTB, nor any immediate availability, but if you want to be anywhere near the top of the waiting list, you'd best call your local Ferrari dealership soon.