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Ferrari 488 Review

The stunning new Ferrari 488, a technical masterpiece that has retained it's Italian flair.  

The 488 GTB is a big deal for Ferrari. Not only because the 458 Italia and Speciale have been so successful but because it marks a change of philosophy.

Gone is the naturally aspirated 4.5-litre V8 and in its place is a downsized direct injection 3902cc twin-turbocharged flat plane crank V8. It’s more efficient but also massively more potent. Power is up from 562bhp in the Italia and 597bhp in the Speciale (both at 9000rpm) to 661bhp at 8000rpm, and torque jumps from 398lb ft at 6000rpm to as much as 560lb ft at 3000rpm. The 488 GTB costs from £183,974

Technical highlights

Ferrari know that adopting turbochargers is controversial and many of the engineers will quietly admit that if it wasn’t for CO2 pressures they’d never go down the forced induction route. However, to their credit they’ve left no stone unturned to create a very special engine indeed.

The twin IHI turbochargers are twin-scroll units and are mounted on ball-bearing shafts to reduce friction by 30-percent. The compressor wheels are TiAL, a lightweight titanium-aluminium alloy that ensures faster spool-up speed by 50-percent compared to Iconel and, according to Ferrari, ‘zero lag’. They rate the engine response time at 0.8-seconds measured at 2000rpm in 3rd gear.

Like the California T the 488 GTB uses different torque maps for gears 1-3 then 4,5,6 and 7 – only giving the maximum 560lb ft in 7th. This gives the feel of an engine building and building to the 8000rpm power peak just as a normally aspirated engine would. It also means the 488 can use shorter gearing (only around 5-percent longer than an Italia) than rivals and it enhances traction. Ferrari are at pains to explain how the noise and ‘emotion’ of this new drivetrain had to match up to Ferrari standards.

Of course there’s much more. The new Side Slip Control 2 is refined still further and now uses the magnetic dampers as well as the e-diff and ESC to help maintain the perfect cornering slip angle, the 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox is 30-percent quicker on upshifts and 40-percent quicker on downshifts than an Italia (and a match for the Speciale) and the Michelin Super Sports now offer almost Cup 2 levels of dry grip but much better wet weather performance.

The manettino with Wet, Sport, Race, CT Off and ESC Off modes remains. Aero has been another area of improvement, vastly increasing downforce whilst reducing drag… As a technical exercise it’s mind-blowing. 

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