From £182,78910
A first drive of Ferrari's mid-engined V8 488 GTB in right-hand drive configuration confirms our suspicion that it's the new act to beat

Our Verdict

Ferrari 488 GTB

Can the turbocharged successor to the 458 raise the bar again?

  • First Drive

    2016 Ferrari 488 GTB review

    A first drive of Ferrari's mid-engined V8 488 GTB in right-hand drive configuration confirms our suspicion that it's the new act to beat
  • First Drive

    2015 Ferrari 488 GTB review

    Ferrari's replacement for the 458 Italia is here. It promises to be faster but, with a turbocharged engine, will it be as thrilling?
Nic Cackett
15 April 2016

What is it?

Ferrari's 488 GTB, the 458 Italia’s replacement, is here in right-hand-drive format at last. The last time we encountered it, it was taking first-place honours as Britain’s Best Driver’s Car of 2015; a feat it managed despite having its steering wheel jauntily angled to the port side.

Now, after what seems like forever (Ferrari has managed to launch the Spider in the meantime), the DVLA-approved, UK-registered coupe has finally landed.

Read our Ferrari 488 Spider review here

The 488 is Ferrari’s mid-engine heartbeat: more expensive than the soft-top, soft-bellied California, and a little cheaper than the V12-powered FF or F12. Broadly speaking, it gets the same twin-turbocharged V8 engine as the Cali-T, albeit with uprated internals, a longer stroke, and more power. Quite a bit more in fact, developing 661bhp at a higher 8000rpm limit.

Its rear-drive chassis is based on the 458, although it too has been substantially overhauled. The steering rack and dampers are from the Speciale, and it gets a new generation of that model’s innovative Side Slip Control. The brakes, meanwhile, are from the LaFerrari.

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.

Ferrari 488 GTB 3.9 T

Location Wales; On sale Now; Price £183,964; Engine V8, 3902cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol; Power 661bhp at 6200-8000rpm; Torque 561lb ft at 3000rpm; Gearbox seven-speed dual-clutch automatic; Kerb weight 1475kg; Top speed 205mph; 0-62mph 3.0sec; Economy 24.8mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 260g/km, 37%

Join the debate

Comments
18

15 April 2016
Does this mean it is better than the 675LT? Hard to believe....

GeToD

 

15 April 2016
GeToD wrote:

Does this mean it is better than the 675LT? Hard to believe....

No way it is better than a 675LT but certaily a bit better than a 650S at least subjuctively if not on sheer speed. Mclaren need to replace or at least update the 650S with some parts of the 675LT implemented in order to finally give Ferrari a good run for the money with a serial production car.

ofir

15 April 2016
Probably Autocar did mean that, yes, this is better than the Macca. Not only, according to Autocar is the Britain’s Best Driver’s Car this year. So it is "the new act to beat". Considering that British press has not always been kind to Ferrari for obvious reasons, I think it is quite a statement. In any case, being better than a much hyped car with not even an LSD it doesn't take that much.

15 April 2016
Probably Autocar did mean that, yes, this is better than the Macca. Not only, according to Autocar is the Britain’s Best Driver’s Car this year. So it is "the new act to beat". Considering that British press has not always been kind to Ferrari for obvious reasons, I think it is quite a statement. In any case, being better than a much hyped car with not even an LSD it doesn't take that much.

15 April 2016
Ridiculous to say that as time passes you forget that it sounds worse than it's predecessor. If it sounds worse, it sounds worse, and that I believe is an epic problem in a car like this. But then Autocar long ago abandoned fundamental criticism of the direction of travel. I don't recall it passionately suggesting that Porsche make the 911R to address the electronic invasion of the GT3. Why isn't it suggesting Ferrari do the same?

15 April 2016
Long live the come back of NA engine !

15 April 2016
Mind, 3sec. to 100 appears the new norm, requiring 600 hp. engines. That makes it quite tricky for so called hyper cars -- that then have to aim at something faster still.
3 sec. to 100 - must really be quite sufficient pressure on ones spine.

15 April 2016
Think i.m.o. that Ferrari are getting less attractive as each generation moves on with the smiley face at the front and weird side proportions.The mac is a far nicer car from looks and goes as well if not better ,used as an every day car not just brought out for Sunday mornings.

15 April 2016
Personally I would go for Porsche 911 Turbo S. It's difficult to impossible to explore the full abilities and performance of these cars anyway, they are waaaay overpowered for most roads, but 911 is more practical and less flashy.

No manual - no fun

15 April 2016
NoPasaran wrote:

Personally I would go for Porsche 911 Turbo S. It's difficult to impossible to explore the full abilities and performance of these cars anyway, they are waaaay overpowered for most roads, but 911 is more practical and less flashy.

Personally, I think you're 100% right.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK