I had my 2012 coupe for about a year and now have driven a 13 Spider for a few weeks. So, what's the difference?
Well, the 13 spider has lost a little edge in the shift pattern from the 12's. The 12's will kick you in the pants hard when you drive it hard. The spider does a little but not nearly as much.
Does it make it less fun to drive?
No, not really.
What's interesting about the spider is the total experience is magnified with the top down. It's not just the "wind in the hair" stuff. It's that you don't feel so separated from the mechanical bits in the back like you do the coupe.
The coupe is just awesome. I'm not discounting it at all. But, the spider gives you pleasure sensations the coupe cannot. When you cut off the top and have the engine and gearbox right behind your ears, you can't help but feel more engaged with the heart of the car.
One of the things I like best about all 458's is this sort of dual personality they have. At slow speeds and in traffic, they are like any other car. They are easy to drive, don't mind stop and go, smooth, and quiet. But, when you drive it with gusto, they become a crazy animal that spits and pops and barks the moon. The spider has lost none of these qualities.
Some surprises: How quickly and quietly the top goes up and down. It's a work of art. You almost have to look at it to know it's moving because it's difficult to hear.
I added Racing seats this time and I'm in shock at how comfortable they are. They look so thin but they are amazing to sit in. I'm sold over Daytona's which I had in my last 2 cars. The bluetooth phone works great with the top down while driving. That surprised me completely. I added the back up camera this time and I like that also.
Some disappointments: I don't like that when the top goes down, the windows automatically go up. To me, it's dumb. And, the A/C is not strong enough for a
topless car. My 2001 Maserati spider has much, much better AC. And, the AC condenser fan whines too much on the 458.
Is it worth the 30 grand over the coupe? IMO, no question. I really can't see anything that is lost between the two in ability. If the coupe is faster, I sure can't tell. I have not seen any cowl shake (but then I haven't driven it over cobblestones either). And the driving experience is sort of on hyper drive. When you drive this car with aggression, it pays you back in a total sensation experience that's hard to imagine.
The car is crack. You just don't want to stop once you get inside.
To put it bluntly:
I love the coupe. I absolutely ADORE the spider.