Top Gear Awards 2011: cabrio of the year

Most of the Ferrari 458 Spider was not a surprise. We knew it’d be gloriously noisy, with that 4.5-litre V8 searing its way to 9,000rpm, slicing open aural nerves and dipping the ends in sonic salt. We knew it would be fast and dynamic, with a mid-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive, 568bhp and Ferrari voodoo sprinkled over the vital mechanical bones. We assumed that, shorn of its roof, it might well be a bit bloody intense. And we were right. It is all of those things.

But we weren’t prepared for being quite so enamoured with the assimilation – roof up or down – of the retractable hard-top. And we were joyfully surprised by the ability of the Spider to ape the Coupe’s dynamics, its complete understanding of what elevates a mid-engined supercar from the merely good to the definitively great. Not perfectly: it will shudder slightly over rough surfaces, and you lose the ability to peruse the seminal engine through a transparent cover. But these are small things when you realise this is the first time you should be considering the Spider variant over the Coupe. It really is that good. A no-compromise convertible? It’s real. It’s here. It’s the Ferrari 458 Spider.