I know what you’re thinking: lucky bugger. And I am! You see, when I arrived at the race track, humming aloud in the pit lane were two bright red Ferrari 458s - one of them the 458 Italia, the other its drop-top brother, the 458 Spider.
Now if that isn’t enough to make your knees quiver, the fact that Ferrari flew in driving instructors to show us the real capabilities of these cars should do the trick.
My first drive was in the 458 Spider. The world’s first mid-rear-engine berlinetta, it’s equipped with the same monstrous naturally aspirated V8 engine and houses the same uncompromising technology as its famous sibling.
The handling and performance are a match made in heaven as the two work in harmony to deliver an unmatched drive.
The direct-injection 4.5-litre powertrain boasts 425kW of power and some 540Nm of torque. The power is transferred to the road by Ferrari’s class-leading dual-clutch F1 paddle-shift transmission through the sophisticated E-Diff, which itself is integrated with the F1-Trac traction control and high-performance ABS.
There are a whole lot of crazy horses breathing beneath this Italian beauty and the result is that it can gallop to 100km/h in 3.4 seconds. It’s the best way to get a facelift and it doesn’t stop there, because this roofless stallion can continue running to a top speed of 325km/h.
Made entirely of aluminium, the top will fold in 14 seconds and is engineered to fit neatly ahead of the engine bay without compromising aerodynamics or performance.
Driving such a beauty is no doubt on the top of any petrolhead’s list and thankfully it doesn’t disappoint. No matter how dark the skies, the hardtop has to come down so you experience the symphony that the 458 Spider performs.
Heading out onto the track, the roars get louder the higher up the rev counter you go and while it rapidly gains speed, the vast amount of safety nannies helps to truly enjoy driving the way it’s meant to be. It’s fast and at times furious, but should you get out of line, it isn’t shy to put you back on track.
It’s a seamlessly smooth drive and is exactly what is right with the world as it combines beauty and power - much like the 458 Italia, but the Spider just lets in that little bit more freedom.
Pricing for the Ferrari 458 Spider starts at R3 950 000 and includes a 7-year maintenance plan.