Having just returned from a trip to Maranello with a load of other exotics, I thought I would spend 10 mins talking about my 430 Spider, which did the trip brilliantly.
I have recently bought a CS and have written on various forums what an awesome car that is. However, the 430, especially in Spider form, has its own place.
I put Pagid Greys on for the trip since I knew we would be driving plenty of high speed back roads, including dipping, climbing, corkscrewing and tightening bends with varying road surfaces. I wanted to prevent fade and had read that the stock pads on steel discs might not prove up to the job. The Pagids were outstanding and felt very close to the ceramics on the CS, with no hint of fade for road driving.
I also have Capristo manifolds, which were a hoot in the tunnels and the extra torque came in handy driving with MP4s, 458s, Ford GTs, 16Ms etc. If you can drive aggressively but still in control, the 430 Spider can keep up with 458s etc - even when they're also driven well. On the track it would no doubt be different, but for ultra fast roads the 430 is fantastic and really works with you.
The long distances involved (2,500 miles) could well have proved unbearable in a CS, especially for my wife (who still hasn't forgiven me for replacing a DBS with a CS). The 430 is a brilliant balance between driving dynamics and long distance touring. Quiet enough when you want to (use the mannetino to quieten down the noise and ride on autoroutes) and raucous when required. When driving quickly these cars feel and move over the road with a level of intuition that allows you control, but is helping out at every opportunity - good traction out of bends, good torque which helps on roads you're unfamiliar with, and a level of feel through the wheel, floor and seat that encourages the best out of you.
I would consider myself a very good road driver, quite fast on a track, but by no means a professional - about the average for this forum, I suspect. Certainly bad enough to be untidy on occasions, when I was glad to be in a car like the 430. For some of the driving we did, a friend driving a new XKR said that the car was too soft and the roads provided some hairy moments. No such drama for the 430. (That aside, it has to be said, the XKR is a brilliant machine in many other ways).
In race mode, the turn in at the front is distinctly improved, however, the increased stiffness sometimes made sport mode the preferred choice on broken surfaces. Scuds separate the suspension stiffness from the manetino modes, which I think is a good idea.
Over the Alps (we took the Simplon pass to lake Maggiore from Chamonix) the safer TC mode of 'sport' also seemed the smart thing to do. Mainly because you get no second chances with a 200ft drop 3 feet away.
The suspension is brilliantly judged as a compromise for touring, although to describe the 430 as a GT is not really right. It is much more hardcore than a DB9 for instance. For a keen driver, it is probably the best type of GT. Feeling the rear of the car move under throttle and the balance again shifting under braking - really great fun, and much better than other recognised GTs that I've driven.
One issue was grounding at the front. On downhill, corkscrew type bends the outside front grounded frequently. I suspect this is something to live with because with a CS in the garage, I'm not up for lowering the 430. The ride/handling balance is too good to ruin and gives me something different to the CS. I know that there are a lot of different opinions about this issue, but for 2,500 miles around Europe I was pretty happy with the stock situation.
Fuel economy was ok, although a friend's 720bhp Ford GT was the most economical car of all!! (by about 20% - amazing). Better even than the XKR or a Porsche Panamera Turbo. The 458 used about a litre less per fill up than the 430s. There was no difference between a 430 coupe and spider.
F1 comes into its own on a trip like this. Having both hands on the wheel and being able to grab a down change when the road surprises you gives a feeling of control that was highly valuable. For me it detracts nothing form the driving experience and in fact adds to it. I'm well used heel and toe changes and have had numerous Imprezas, M3s and Porsches in manual, but the F1 suits the mid engine Ferrari and I think I prefer it that way. Each to his own on that one because I have friends who would strongly disagree and I completely understand.
Maranello is a great place to visit, especially for the history. However, the real gem is above Maranello - the hills contain some of the most amazing roads I have ever driven. Worth the trip alone.
The journey back was mostly on the autoroute due to time constraints. Glad to be in the 430 then, I can tell you!
Overall, a great trip, well recommended, and if anyone wants to know where we stayed, most of which was expensive but great, let me know.