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2016's Top Ten Tech Cars: Ferrari 488 Spider
Photo: Ferrari

Video: Ferrari

Price: US $275,000

Hustling Ferrari’s latest fantasy through Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, we take all of 3 seconds to salute the end of an era and to hold on tight as another begins. That’s how much time it takes the glorious 488 Spider to reach 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour). Closing a book on seven decades of howling, superhigh-revving, naturally aspirated engines, every new Ferrari will now be turbocharged, a hybrid, or both. And while Ferrari’s new turbos can’t hit the operatic, 9,000-rpm tenor notes of its predecessors (not yet, anyway), it’s game over in every other regard.

Although the midmounted V-8 displaces 0.6 liters less than the departed 458 model, it pumps out a shocking 20 percent more power. And the 760 newton meters (561 foot-pounds) of torque surpasses the old 458 by fully 40 percent. The result shatters the record for power per liter for any production-car V-8 even as fuel consumption drops by 14 percent.

That unbeatable one-two punch of power and efficiency is why such stalwarts as Ford, Mercedes, and Porsche have gotten the memo: Join the turbo revolution, or die. In 8.7 seconds, or less time than a Toyota Prius takes to reach 100 km/h, the Ferrari is doing 200 km/h (124 mph).

With warp-speed acceleration achieved, Ferrari looked to tackle another, more elusive supercar goal: making the Ferrari easy to drive. The Side Slip Control 2 system assesses a driver’s skill level in real time, applying its Formula One–bred stability and traction systems to maximize speed in any situation. Twitch a finger on the carbon-fiber steering wheel and the Ferrari reacts in 0.06 second. Flick the column-mounted paddles and the seven-speed F1 automated gearbox downshifts 40 percent faster than before and upshifts 30 percent more rapidly.

The style is bellissimo, naturally, but the beauty springs from pure aero function. The signature is the new “blown spoiler,” a discreet cove atop the rear deck that funnels air to pin the Ferrari to the pavement, with no need for a rear spoiler that would add aero drag and spoil the lines.

After slicing up the countryside like a haunch of prosciutto, we find final affirmation on a looping ascent to Forte di San Leo, a soaring promontory and medieval fortress. The sash-wearing mayor and townspeople pour out to greet our Ferraris, snapping enough photos to fill a family album. Yes, driving a 488 Spider in Italy is almost like cruising in the Popemobile. But while the pope can’t make you infallible, this car just might.

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