For years, you could count on Ferrari for a screaming naturally aspirated supercar. Now though, a fresh generation of turbocharged models is promised, one of the first of these being this car, the gorgeous 488 GTB. Is the beguiling Maranello recipe on offer here still the same? Or is it even better. Car & Driving's experts check out what's on offer.
While the 488 GTB is in many respects a giant leap forwards for Ferrari, it is in essence a heavily facelifted version of its predecessor, the 458 Italia, albeit with a whole new powerplant. Facing competition such as McLaren's 650S and Lamborghini's Huracan, it promises a sizable increase in performance with a decent drop in running costs too.
If you ask a petrolhead to think about a Ferrari's engine, they'll probably have the soundtrack of an operatic V12 playing in their head. Ask them to name their favourite Ferrari car however, and many will no doubt choose that Eighties icon the F40 - the last Prancing Horse model to carry a mid-mounted twin turbo V8.
While the F40 used turbos for performance, environmental concerns have these days forced Ferrari down the boosted route in search of efficiency, hence the 4.0-litre turbo V8 unit chosen for this 488 GTB. Sitting above the California T and below the F12, this model is aimed squarely at the junior supercar market that Ferrari has occupied with a mid-engined V8-powered design of some sort ever since 1975. The question is, can the 488 channel its inner F40 - or has Ferrari gone soft?
No-one ever complained the 458 Italia was a bit pedestrian yet Ferrari has still significantly increased motive power for this 488. The 670PS figure means that buyers get 100PS more than the base 458 model used to offer and torque is up by a staggering 160Ib ft. The urge now comes much lower in the rev range too; peak torque arrives at 3000rpm - which means you get it twice as quickly as you did in the old 458. That equates to 0-62mph in three seconds dead, with 124mph passing 5.3 seconds later. Top speed is over 205mph. To help those acceleration figures and give you a reason to rev the car to its 8000rpm peak, Ferrari caps the torque in the first six gears. Only in the seventh ratio of the updated dual clutch automated manual gearbox can you access all 560Ib ft of torque.
So straight line performance is faintly ridiculous - and handling should be improved too, thanks to a suspension system that uses lessons learnt in the hardcore 458 Speciale model and adds a sprinkle of extra technology. That torque cap means traction is astonishingly good, even without the 4WD you'd get in a rival Lamborghini Huracan or Audi R8 V10 Plus. A second generation 'Side Slip Control' also flatters even the most ham fisted of drivers, allowing them to perform smokey drifts without fear of falling off the race track. Downforce is up too, helping the 488 GTB lap Ferrari's famous Fiorano test track two whole seconds faster than the 458. Overall then, we think it's fair to say that the purists needn't have worried.
Ferrari may have used the bones of the 458 to create the 488 - the roof and glass area are unchanged - but you'd never confuse the two cars. Gone is the single wide lower intake up front, this replaced by a square central vent flanked by two much wider intakes that exit through the leading edge of the bonnet. The sides are more firmly pinched and gain a much larger intake, with a scallop in the door leading to them that is said to evoke the 308 GTB. Out back, there are now only two pipes instead of three and there's a more pronounced rear diffuser.
Step aboard and evolution is the name of the game again. The multifunction steering wheel with paddle shifters, the controls for the lights and Ferrari's 'Manettino' dial to control the chassis' electronics all remain as they were in the 458, as does the basic layout. There is a new and improved infotainment system though (a weak spot of the old car) as well as some detail changes designed to make this 488 more usable on a daily basis. Nothing groundbreaking in other words - but then why fix something that arguably isn't broken?
As you would expect with Ferrari, there's a lengthy list of extra-cost visual embellishments and plenty of bespoke trim and paint options, should you want something exclusive. If you're planning on using your 488 as more than just a toy, boot space is a pleasantly surprising 230-litres.
Unsurprisingly you'll need deep pockets to afford the 488 GTB, with the sole model coming in at nearly £185,000. Naturally, this is just the starting point, with options including a start/stop system, a smorgasbord of internal and external carbon fibre trim options, an uprated stereo, shift lights on the steering wheel, plus all manner of paint and leather choices. If Ferrari don't list the shade you're looking for, then they can colour match whatever you fancy for a chunk of extra cash. No mention is made of the price of these options on Ferrari's website; if you have to ask, you probably can't afford it.
Thankfully, standard equipment isn't too mean; you get leather seats, a seven speed semi-auto gearbox, a built in infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity and sat-nav, an 'E-Diff' electronic limited slip differential, 'active aerodynamics' and of course that 670PS V8. Safety is taken care of by ABS, the usual airbags, 'F1-Trac' traction control and side slip control.
One of the handy side effects of reducing carbon emissions is an improvement in economy. While the average buyer may not be too worried about the cost of a few gallons of super unleaded, we're sure they'll appreciate the reduction in wearisome stops for fuel. Driven very carefully, the 488 GTB can manage 24.8mpg, 3.6mpg up on the 458, while emitting 260g/km of carbon. These figures may not seem that impressive but given the performance available, they're nothing short of miraculous.
Also surprisingly sensible is the four year warranty that comes as standard, which can be extended by another year for a fee. Should you be planning to keep your Ferrari for a while, you can even opt for an extended powertrain warranty of up to twelve years.
While many may have panicked when Ferrari announced a turbocharged powerplant for the 458's replacement, we needn't have worried. Sure, this 488 GTB doesn't quite rev as high nor sound quite as spectacular as its predecessor but the truth is that otherwise, this is a better car in every other area. Performance is now stronger than ever, not to mention more accessible thanks to the tidal wave of torque. Plus, for what it's worth, the turbo engine is kinder to the environment.
If aural delights are at the top of your wish list, then this car has three impressive competitors in the shape of Lamborghini's Huracan, Mclaren's 650S and Audi's R8. Only a fool though, would discount this 488 merely on account of its relative lack of aural fireworks. After all, this Maranello model is supremely rapid, characterful and surprising efficient and usable. For all these reasons, many will feel that with the 488, Ferrari has reclaimed pole position in the junior supercar market.
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