The 488 GTB is the manufacturer’s first series production car to get active aerodynamics, and there’s a revised version of Ferrari’s spectacular seven-speed dual clutch gearbox as standard.
Prices start at £183,964 in the UK, where cruise control, rear parking sensors, the USB port, and the anti-theft satellite tracker are thrown in as standard.
Nevertheless, as with anything else in its class, that price won’t feature on the bottom of many order forms. Our press car, thanks in part to plenty of additional carbon fibre, a £7k paintjob and £5k “Goldrake” seats, has a pricetag of £248,860.
What's it like?
Even with the steering wheel mounted over the correct footwell, the 488 requires a few minutes of recalibration. Not because it is hugely fast (although it absolutely is) but because the Speciale rack is exceptionally quick and the suspension ostensibly very busy. Drive the car back to back with pretty much anything else on a particularly rumpled B road, and the palpable dynamic chatter through the seatbacks and steering column can make it seem coltish and a little anxious.
This first impression though can be discounted, because by the time you’ve got used to the fingertip sensitivity of the 488’s arcade-game steering, the car is so far under your skin it's almost intravenous. The starting point is its change of direction, which is absolutely electric – and not just because the overtly snappy helm decrees it, but because the chassis is spellbindingly brilliant at channeling all the incisiveness onto the deck. Crucially, this occurs not with the thick-necked, grip-obsessed stability of its rivals, but with a progressive intuition that gauges body roll, weight transfer and rate of response to near perfection.
Little surprise then that this aptitude requires some acclimatisation, given how forthrightly it shuns the usual tacked-down sterility. The 488 doesn’t want to tear up the tarmac, it wants flit and float supplely over it, tethered by sympathetic tuning, a clever diff, and low mass. While there’s much to admire in the front end’s scalpel-bladed certainty or the yaw-happy lateral grip, it’s actually the suspension’s talent for turning a tickle of your wrists into a split-second dip of its wing that really exhilarates. It does this by using half a degree of lean to tap you into the car’s cornering attitude as assuredly as the left pedal elaborates on the brakes.
You could quantify the net result as simply more speed carried, but really it’s deep joy in the sensation of driving fast, which on all but the worst English roads piles up in the cabin fervently. That’s before we even get to the fizzing, gravel-toned V8. Last year, closer to living memory of its predecessor, we rated it very highly without necessarily raving. Now, with forced induction well on its way down the far slope of its multi-cylinder tipping point, the 488's motor easily ranks as one of the best turbocharged engines you can buy. It’s not just the vast landslide of escalating torque that pops up just about everywhere. Nor even the unhesitating way it delivers it. It’s the meaningful retention of that essential flat-plane crank character, and Ferrari’s unswerving perseverance with where exactly the redline ought to be, that inches it toward serious renown.
Should I buy one?
Emphatically, yes. While there are supercars which ride a little more comfortably or steer a little more consistently, none drive with the sheer vitality of the 488. True, the interior feels a tad low rent in places compared to rivals from McLaren or Porsche, and the car is arguably less sensational from every angle than its predecessor (or even its predecessor’s predecessor), but the new chassis and powertrain are fused to magnificent effect. The late correct placement of the steering wheel then merely confirms last year’s findings: the 488 is the act to beat.