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.

Simon Davis

Simon Davis

Road tester
Having read just how quick and direct the Pista’s steering rack is, it was a relief to find directional changes don’t feel overly nervous or intimidating on the road. They’re still darn fast, but intuitive and confidence inspiring, too

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.

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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.

The flipside of that pervasive nimbleness? Well, the car didn’t really threaten to beat our dry handling track lap record, which speaks to the fact that there isn’t the very last word on high-speed stability or aerodynamic downforce here.

Driving the car quickly means dialling down the stability and traction control systems into ‘CT off’ mode, and adopting a style in which the car feels habitually on the brink of oversteer – with its outside rear wheel always spinning slightly beyond the limit of traction – and constantly being ready with smooth and precise degrees of opposite lock. It’s always exciting, but it does sometimes feel as though you’re overdriving the car rather than getting into the perfect groove with it.

COMFORT AND ISOLATION

Ferrari reckons that more than half of Pista owners will use their cars on the track. The firm will tell you that the everyday usability of the car matters a great deal – but you suspect it wouldn’t have figured highly enough to have been allowed to erode the highly strung, thrill-a-minute character of this car one iota. And neither should it have.

And, sure enough, the Pista is entirely usable in any case. That wailing V8 settles to a reasonably civil hum at lower crank speeds, particularly when you’re using Sport mode on the manettino, and although the wheels and suspension allow plenty of unfiltered road roar to make its way into the cabin, the effect isn’t too bad on smoother surfaces.

Drive the Pista fairly gently and you could tour in it, and hold a conversation with your passenger without shouting. Drive it more as Ferrari intended and you’ll need earplugs to prevent your ears ringing after a busy couple of hours – although, even at pace, the noise level isn’t exactly bothersome.

The car’s B-road ride is certainly more busily reactive than in the average supercar and can still seem terse and even a little bit wooden if you’re really pressing on, although it improves with the dampers set to ‘bumpy road’ mode.

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