The 488 Pista handles like a car that has had its ‘Ferrariness’ dialled up to 11. If modern Prancing Horses are, by and large, darting, pointy, reactive and direct in their handling, then the Pista explores the outer limits of possibility – and acceptability – on every single one of those points.
With fewer than two full turns between extremes of steering lock, the car feels like it’s up on its toes at all times and in all situations. There is just enough weight in the steering system to make its pace digestible, and a little contact patch feel. The rack isn’t as brilliant as the best produced by Porsche and McLaren in recent years but remains very consistent in its weighting even under extremes of load, which allows you to acclimatise to its directness quite quickly.
Although it’s very firm and lively, the 488 Pista isn’t generally a nervous-feeling car on the road. That only ever begins to change on the odd occasion: when uneven surfaces make the car bump steer a little, when it tramlines slightly over similar bumps under braking and when it slips slightly sideways under big applications of power as you cross cambers or painted road markings.
At greater pace on the road, and even more vividly on the track, the sheer agility, incisiveness and handling adjustability of the Pista’s chassis are nothing short of incredible. The car feels significantly overpowered in a way that the 458 Speciale never did. It is at its best when driven in ‘CT off’ mode just below ‘brain-out’ pace, in an indulgent style that lets you savour every deliciously precise, controllable slew of power-on oversteer (and there are always plenty to go around).
Drive it flat out, for outright lap time, and the Pista begins to feel a bit too mobile in its handling; like its penchant for perfect drifts is slowing it down slightly and it could do with greater high-speed stability. The car certainly doesn’t have that aura you find in a McLaren Senna which suggests you could lap it for days on end without finding the limit of its grip and speed.
Rather than testing your bravery and the muscle power in your neck and thighs, the Pista is a track car that appeals more to your senses than some, and that flatters your skill level and dials up the fun factor. In other words, it’s very good indeed.
The Pista is the kind of car to make any track driving session unforgettable. Pointy and alert in its every move, and super-responsive in almost everything it does, it feels nimble and balanced in a way to surpass its every rival.