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Dashboard, infotainment, sat-nav and passenger space

As driving environments go, not much has changed between the 458 Italia and the 488 GTB.

There’s still a choice of seats – light, manually adjustable and wilfully figure-hugging ones on our test car – which pitch you in a fine driving position behind the standard oddly shaped and, at least to some testers, overly complicated steering wheel.

It’s amazing how quickly you get used to things. I hated the grouped controls and the manettino on Ferrari steering wheels, but now I find it most intuitive

It not only features buttons to start and stop the engine and change between drive modes, which was fine for all concerned, but also for the indicators, wipers and main beam, which was an overload and lacking in intuitiveness as far as some were concerned.

None can argue, though, that it doesn’t free up space behind the wheel, where Ferrari sites two column-mounted gear selector paddles – right for up, left for down – which are the easiest to reach and use in the business.

If only the same could be said for the instrument binnacle ahead of them. We’ve no beef with the centrally mounted gear indicator and large, simple rev counter, whose needle runs into the 8000rpm limit with a speed that is quite startling (but we’ll come to that later).

We do, however, have issue with the two digital displays around it. They can present the speed readout, can have temperature or pressure dials pulled up, or show the navigation and entertainment, but they never seem to become intuitive to use.

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Overall perceived build and fit and finish are reasonable, but no better. A McLaren 650S’s switchgear has more solidity, but one suspects that Ferrari owners put this fairly low down the priority list, and the interior is appealingly designed with appropriate flamboyance.

The boot at the front is a generous size, too, while the glovebox, door cubbies and cupholders, one of which usually becomes a receptacle for the key, make the 488 as practical as you would hope it to be.

On paper, the two infotainment pods, one either side of the steering wheel, may have seemed like a good idea. Functions could be controlled by an outstretched hand — a natural extension of the switchgear immediately adjacent to your fingers.

But in the real world, the separate controls and screens bifurcate your attention like a fork in the road (when really it should be focused on forks in the road).

Even when you’ve learnt what lives where, there’s a tendency — not helped by the software or the fiddly selector — to zero in on that small corner of the dash.

In fairness, and relative to previous Ferrari exploits in infotainment, the whole system has come on in leaps and bounds.

The Bluetooth connection is sturdy, the sat-nav perfectly legible and the processor behind it all clearly equipped with far more grunt than ever before.

The standard stereo is serviceable, although there’s also the cost option of a 12-speaker JBL Professional system if the V8’s treble isn’t to your liking.

But there’s no swerving the fact that any mainstream media equivalent — particularly Porsche’s VW Group-sponsored set-up — exudes a more rounded quality.