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Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

Two things impress about the 488 GTB’s performance: both its ferocity and the nature of its delivery.

To get a turbocharged 3.9-litre engine to go fast is one thing, and it’s a task at which Ferrari has duly succeeded. But Ferrari’s greater achievement is to make the 488 GTB the finest turbocharged petrol engine in production. Several manufacturers have moved from natural aspiration to turbos recently, some with better results than others.

Unlike a normally aspirated Ferrari, the 488’s tail can be pushed wide even at low revs in third gear

Porsche’s turbocharged sixes (and, particularly, fours) genuinely feel the poorer relations of their forebears. AMG has fared rather better, partly by dialling the exhaust note up to 20.

But the 488’s engine is remarkable for how little lag there is and how convincingly speed builds towards the top end, as it rattles into the 8000rpm limiter when it feels like it’s barely out of the mid-range.

To achieve this, from low revs in lower gears, Ferrari limits the V8’s torque. Its engineers say that to release it all would result in a characterless bark and a delivery that wouldn’t reward you for using more revs.

Nonetheless, what you get is a car that will go from 30-50mph in fifth in 2.2sec, which is precisely the same time as it takes to go from 100-120mph. Its urge is that broad.

Yet, because you’re aware that aerodynamic drag and other acceleration-limiting factors rise with speed, this really feels like an engine that gets better as you drive it harder.

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By coincidence, we figured a BMW M2 straight after the 488 GTB. Its engine felt breathless towards the top end, as if the last 1000rpm weren’t worth dealing with – not uncommon with turbocharged units.

But the 488, by way of contrast, knocks into its limiter like it has another 1000rpm still to go.

Meantime, there is so little lag that it’s mostly unappreciable – and it may even make the chassis more playful – while the old Ferrari flat-plane howl is around 80% retained.

For perhaps the first time, then, so much is added by gaining turbochargers that it more than equals what has been taken away.

And the efficiency they’re there for? It depends. Drive calmly and you’ll see 20mpg. Drive on a track and you’ll more than halve that.