Captivating experience

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 February, 2012, 12:00am


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The new Ferrari and Maserati showroom in Repulse Bay brings Italian luxury cars to the doorstep of the Southside rich, and at a prominent tourist spot frequented by mainland visitors.

Its highlight is the Ferrari 458 Spider, the world's first sports car to have a fully retractable aluminium hard-top.

Launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the 458 Spider (HK$4.398 million) has a naturally-aspirated, direct-injection 4.5-litre V8, a nominee for the 2011 International Engine of the Year award for its smoothness, economy and oomph.

Its seven-speed, dual-clutch F1 paddle-shift transmission works through a sophisticated E-Diff, and the car's stability and handling is improved by F1-Trac traction control and high-performance anti-lock braking systems, the marque says. The Spider promises 100km/h in 3.4 seconds and a maximum speed of 320km/h, Italian Motors says.

The supercar also has class-leading fuel consumption and emissions levels, thanks to Ferrari's High Emotion Low Emission system, which promises 11.8 litres per 100km, and carbon-dioxide emissions of 275g/km. The 458 Spider's aluminium roof weighs 25kg less than folding versions, stows in 14 seconds in front of the engine bay and in minimal space to allow the design of a luggage bench behind the seats.

Innovative buttresses at the rear of the car are 'designed to optimise the flow of air to the engine intakes and the clutch and gearbox oil radiators', Ferrari says.

When the Spider's hood is down, an adjustable electric wind stop slows and diffuses the air in the cockpit, 'enabling normal conversation to be held even at speeds over 200km/h', the Italian marque says.

The Spider's all-aluminium chassis shares the coupe versions new alloys and castings and conforms to 2020 safety legislation.

Its accelerator pedal mapping and multilink suspension damping, 'have been calibrated to guarantee maximum sportiness and absolute driving pleasure with the top down, in line with Maranello's exclusive spider tradition', Ferrari says.

'Even the engine soundtrack has been honed to ensure that the car's occupants are completely captivated by the drop-top driving experience.'