Friday 23rd April 2004


FERRARI 360 SPIDER

Nauman Farooq had the pleasure of a 360 to test in Toronto

Ferrari 360 Spider Life can be so unfair at times. I had been stuck driving around in a Ferrari 360 Spider for the last week. Yes, I can imagine everyone rolling their eyes and saying, "you spoilt brat."

However, you see, half the time I was out in the car, it was either raining, or I was stuck in one of our Greater Toronto Area's numerous traffic jams. Sometimes both.

However, the other half of the time, the sun was shining brightly, and the roads were about as empty as Gary Coleman's fan mail box, and on those occasions, it was just splendid.

In Tune

Ferrari 360 Spider The 360 Spider has got to be one of the most desirable cars on the road, and not just because it is drop dead gorgeous. The fact that this is a Ferrari, penned by Pininfarina, and has an engine that seems to have the power of Zeus and the voice of Pavarotti, singing live, six inches behind your shoulder, makes this car so appealing.

Before I get carried away, let me give you a little history lesson on Ferrari's baby models. The car that started the current revolution of entry level Ferrari's dates back to the 308 GTB from 1975. From the 308 came the 328 in 1986. Then in 1990 came the first big change, the car was called the 348, which looked like a junior Testarossa. That led to one of the most popular Ferrari's of all time, the F355 in 1995. The 360 series benefits enormously from the engine development work of the F355, and the 360 Modena coupe was launched in 1999. The 360 Spider became the first Ferrari of the new millennium when it was launched at the 2000 Geneva Motor Show.

 

The 360 Spider has a 3.6 liter, V8 engine, with five-valves per cylinder. This easy breathing engine therefore pumps out 400 hp (at 8500rpm), and 275 lb/ft of torque (at 4750rpm). That is enough to propel this prancing horse from 0-100 km/h in 4.6 seconds, and onto a top speed of 290 km/h, when no one is looking.

Delivery

The numbers only tell half the story. It is the way this car delivers its power is what makes this car so special. The car I was driving came equipped with the optional F1 gearbox - so you can pretend to be Michael Schumacher - and it also had the optional Tubi exhaust (pure aural heaven!). Those are just some of the optional extras this car had. With all option tags marked, this exact car retails for CAN$329,000.

Ferrari 360 Spider Out on the road, you instantly feel like the King of the road. Everyone looks at you and gives you those admiring and envious glances. Every traffic light, every gas stop turns into a short conversation. Losing anyone that is being too much of a bother is never too hard. With the F1 paddle-shift gearbox (up on the right, down on the left), your next gear change is just a finger reach away. Care is needed with the 'box  since it is not a flat shift. You must remember to lift off the throttle slightly before reaching for the next gear. Selecting the sport mode also improves the quality of the shifts and firms up the ride even more.

Real World Performance

Ferrari 360 Spider With some clever foot and finger work, you can blast off into the distance as if the guy behind you had just come to a stop. As impressive this car is from a standstill launch, it is even more amazing on highway speeds. It just piles on the speed instantly, and can get you into indecent territory in the blink of an eye. However, whereas most cars feel light and unstable at high speeds, this one stays glued to the tarmac, thanks to its clever underbody diffusers, which sucks the car down. I do feel however that there is more downforce in the tail of the car than the nose. Still, this car is very comfortable to drive fast.

It really is comfortable too. The interior is spacious, very spacious actually. You have legroom, you have headroom, and the seats not only provide all the support you'll need, they are well padded too. So this is a comfortable car to be in (it even has two setting for the suspension, comfort or sport), and all the time I had spent in it, nothing ever fell off, or argued to work, so these days, Ferrari is even building them right.

This therefore seems to be a perfect car. In fact, I only have three things to complain about it. One, the traction control is a bit too intrusive, which makes for some jerky getaways in wet conditions and the electro-hydraulic clutch also fouls up in these situations. Two, as great as the engine sounds, it does get a bit too much after you spend a few hours in the car. Finally, my third and biggest complaint about it, I can't afford one.

Ferrari 360 Spider On the account of looks, performance, handling, comfort and desirability, it scores top marks. So, if you happen to win the lottery this week, don't even hesitate, try out one of these cars, and experience the Ferrari magic yourself. You won't be disappointed.

Links

Car supplied courtesy of ASG Exotic Car Rentals