Here it is; the highly anticipated replacement for the 458 Italia. It was exactly what we thought it’d be; faster, prettier, and turbochargier. Yes gone is the naturally aspirated V8 of the 458 and in is a heavily tuned version of the twin-turbo 3.9-litre V8 from the California T. Sure it’s a step forward but it’d also mean the end of the naturally aspirated V8. Yes this is the first turbocharged mid-engined of the successors of the Dino and 308 GTB. It also means that now between the the four car lineup in Ferrari’s current stable (California T, 488 GTB, FF, and F12), share two engines between them. Previously each Ferrari model had a bespoke engine. The Cali and 488 share the F154 V8 while the FF and F12 are both powered by the F140 V12.
This new car, despite its 3900cc engine, is called the 488 GTB. The GTB harks back to the old 308 and 328 GTBs. The ‘488’ part of its name is typically Ferrari nerdy. It refers to the capacity in cubic centimetres of each of its eight cylinders. In the 488 the 3.9-litre engine produces 660bhp/493kW and 760NM of torque. Let that settle in for a second. 660bhp/493kW. That’s more than what the Enzo had, let alone more than rivals from McLaren and Lamborghini. It has more torque than the F12 Berlinetta for crying out loud! All those impressive numbers are enough to get the 488 from 0-100 km/h in 3 seconds dead and on to a top speed of 330 km/h. It’s said it can lap the Fiorano test track 2 seconds quicker than the Italia and half a second quicker than the Speciale. Oh and it uses less fuel than the car it replaces too. Win win.
Ferrari have also reworked the 7-speed dual clutch Getrag gearbox and there’s something called Variable Torque Management. Apparently it’s meant to “unleash” all the torque equally across the rev range, even if the driver mashes the throttle. Should be since max power is at 8000rpm. There’s also a second generation Side Slip Angle Control (SSC2) which allows the driver to powerslide without having a crash.
Then, ah, then we get to the way it looks. Of course styling is subjective and full disclosure I’ve always been a fan of the 458. To me that was the best looking car Ferrari had made since I was born. It was my favourite Ferrari. The key word there is ‘was’. The design of the 488, turbo engine and all, is a fantastic evolution of an already perfect car. Ferrari haven’t messed with the design too much. Instead they’ve fined tuned it. It’s a pattern that goes back to the beginning of the small, mid-engine Ferraris. Every second car has been an evolution. Remember the 308/328, the 348/355, and more recently the 360/430. Think of them as like the iPhone. The 488 is pretty much an iPhone 6S to the 458’s iPhone 6.
Anyway, the results speak for themselves. It may not be a massive change from the 458 but why try and change something already perfect. What Ferrari’s in-house designers have done is combine the best aspects of the 458 and the LaFerrari. In terms of styling there are worse cars to be inspired by. The LaFerrari influence is evident. From the headlights to the new front bumper it looks sharper and appropriately modern. My favourite part of the car are the new side air intakes. I’d have this car just for those intakes alone. The rear is much the same as the 458, bar some minor details here and there. Unfortunately the 458 Italia’s triple-exhausts are gone, replaced by a twin-exhaust set up like that on a 458 Speciale and a central reverse lamp like the F12’s. Regardless I still think this is one gorgeous looking car.
The naturally aspirated V8 maybe gone but with 660bhp we can’t complain too much. Times are changing and we have to accept cars can’t be the way they used to be. I’d rather live in a world where supercars such as these are around and are adapting than one where they’re as relevant as a gramophone. On the other hand, the desirability of the 458 has probably just gone through the roof. Purists, collectors, and those wanting a piece of a naturally aspirated history will be scooping them up. Let’s not be too harsh on the 488 though. With those stunning looks it’s easy to forgive and forget.