Ferrari’s turbocharged 488GTB is a generational shift of much-loved 458 Italia
Forty years on from the unveiling of its first ever mid-rear-engined V8 model, the 308 GTB, the Prancing Horse opens a new chapter in its 8-cylinder history.
The turbocharged Ferrari 488 GTB - successor to the much-loved 458 Italia, provides track-level performance that can be enjoyed to the full even by non-professional drivers in everyday use.
Giving us a generational shift, its new eight-cylinder, mid-engine sports-car standard-bearer is an insane-revving, naturally aspirated V-8 retired in favor of a turbocharged unit. This follows Ferrari’s recent promise that all of its future engines will be turbocharged or hybridized.
The new engine is smaller than its predecessor, and its displacement of 488 cubic centimeters per cylinder gives the car its name: 488GTB. Multiplied by eight, that works out to 3902 cc for the new 90-degree V-8, which is mated to, as was the 458’s V-8, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Despite the 0.6-liter reduction in displacement, the new engine makes more power: 661 horsepower at 8000 rpm, versus 597 horsepower at 9000 rpm for the 458 Speciale. Torque, predictably, is greater as well, reaching 561 lb-ft at a low 3000 rpm, far eclipsing the 458 Speciale’s 398 lb-ft.
Like the screaming, naturally aspirated 458, the 488 uses an engine with a flat-plane crankshaft that should help it retain the “seductive soundtrack” that Ferrari promises.
Variable Torque Management helps get the power all the way to the rear wheels posthaste. Ferrari claims that the superquick seven-speed transmission will enable the engine to hit the rev limiter in fourth gear just six seconds after the car leaves from a stop.
The extra oomph shaves only fractions of a second from the official Fiorano lap time compared with the latest and greatest iteration of the 458, the Speciale A (which just debuted last fall). The 488GTB gets around Fiorano in 1:23.0, a half-second quicker than the Speciale A. The two cars both claim a 3.0-second zero-to-62-mph time. As speeds increase, however, the 488GTB shows its advantage, reaching 124 mph in 8.3 seconds, compared to its forebear’s 9.5.
Aside from the revolutionary change affecting the redheaded beauty under the plexiglass cover, the specs indicate that the 488GTB otherwise hews closely to the formula that has been so successful in the 458.
The shapely new body is 1.6 inches longer than the 458 Italia’s, 0.6 inch wider, and identical in height. Ferrari says the new car has less aerodynamic drag but creates 50 percent greater downforce (stated as 717 pounds at 155 mph). Large, body-side air intakes are split into two sections and are supposed to reference the original mid-engine, eight-cylinder Ferrari, the 308. Among the 488’s airflow-managing elements are an “Aero Pillar” on the front end, “vortex generators” underneath, and active flaps in the rear diffuser. A “blown spoiler” (trickle-down Formula 1 technology) funnels air in through a wide channel at the base of the rear window and out the back of the car, just above the license plate.
Ferrari’s quoted “dry weight” (at 3020 pounds) is 22 pounds lighter than it cites for the standard 458 Italia, with 53.5 percent pressing down on the rear wheels. (The forged 20-inch wheels themselves save 18 pounds.) For reference, the lightest 458 Italia we’ve weighed tipped our scales at 3325 pounds in road-ready trim.
Inside, there’s much that looks familiar, with the photos showing aggressively bolstered, Daytona-style seats, conventional knobs and switches (no touch screen here), and a complete absence of column stalks. The multifunction steering wheel includes buttons even for lights, wipers, and turn signals, in addition to the damper setting, engine start, and Ferrari’s manettino chassis-control switch. Viewed through the steering wheel is the large, central tachometer with digital gear indicator, and it’s flanked by configurable screens.
New seats and door panels are designed to make the interior more humane. A fresh key design mimics the shape of the engine’s intake plenums and permits passive entry and starting. Optional carbon-fiber trim can cover various parts of the interior (and the exterior aero fillips); also optional are a telemetry system like that in the LaFerrari and a 12-speaker, 1280-watt stereo.
One of the more intriguing bits of technology is Ferrari’s Side Slip Angle Control. It debuted on the 458 Speciale but this time around is “more precise yet less invasive” - which is how we generally like things. It harnesses the electronically controlled rear differential, the traction control system, and now the electronically controlled dampers to enable greater tail-out antics.
First, though, you’ve got to get your hands on one. There’s no word yet on pricing, but for reference, Ferrari currently asks around £160,000 for a 458, so figure something north of there. For those special customers deemed worthy, deliveries of the 488GTB start in Europe in July.