When Ferrari announced that the engine in the facelifted California was going to have a turbocharged engine, it was a sign of things to come. A world where the term ‘naturally aspirated’ would be reserved for Ferrari’s V12 Hypercars and Grand Tourers and what I suppose would be considered the ‘entry level’ Ferrari’s will be turbocharged. I mean don’t get me wrong, Ferrari know how do a turbo supercar – look at the F40 and 288 GTO for example. But it’s the end of an era for the naturally aspirated Ferrari V8. From the beautiful scream of the 360 Challenge Stradale to the instant power delivery of the 458 Italia it really did make me think, could Ferrari really do any better with forced induction?
The short answer is yes.
In 2015 at the Geneva International Motorshow, Ferrari unveiled the 488; Ferrari’s first mid engined twin-turbo Supercar since the F40. The 488 uses a 3.9L twin turbo engine which produces 670PS (661 BHP) and produces 561 lb/ft of torque. This propels the 488 from 0-62 in just 3 seconds and the 488 coupe will top out at 205mph with the Spider topping out 203mph.
Admittedly, when I first saw the 488 I didn’t like it… At all. The revised front fascia of the car obviously took design cues from the LaFerrari which paired with some aerodynamically efficient styling made the front look a bit odd. But a Ferrari isn’t all about looks, it’s about function too. When getting up close and personal with the 488 you realise what it’s about. You can see where the air flows from front to back, where the air is being taken in and out and it really gives you a different perspective on the design.
One significant change to the exterior of the car is the massive side intakes which is a design cue you can date back to the 308 GTB. Around the back you find more vents and a very clever active diffuser which acts as a DRS system similar to the ones you’d find in a F1 car.
Now I haven’t driven a Ferrari, so I cannot explain what it’s like to drive but I have had many conversations with owners and been fortunate enough to have ridden shotgun in a few of them over the years so I can only tell you what my experience is with these cars through a passengers perspective.
The interior on the 488 is improved but not too dissimilar to that you’ll find on the 458. It still uses the driver-focused, non nonsense, minimalist approach to the interior design which I appreciate because it lets the driver focus on the road and the passenger focus on the journey.
The sound… now I was most skeptical about the noise (or lack of) when thinking about the 488 but when jumping in and going out in it, those thoughts were put to bed. There’s very little (if any) induction noise and the valves on the 488 are a lot less indecisive compared to the constant opening and closing that you’ll find in the 458. A cruising speeds, with the roof down you can actually have a conversation with the person you’re sitting next to. The ride comfort is that similar to that of an everyday family car. It’s not harsh at all, it absorbs bumps really well and is just a pleasure to be in.
In 2009, when the Ferrari 458 was unveiled, it was the car that changed the ideology of what a Supercar was. It was more than just a step up from the F430, it changed the game completely. It had very clever aerodynamics, a stunning Pininfarina body and a 4.5L naturally aspirated V8 which got the car from 0-62 in 3.3 seconds. It was a revolution. So how does the 488 stack up? Is it a car that is going to be remembered like the 458? In my opinion, no. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a brilliant car and performance wise, a noticeable improvement on the 458. But it’s not revolutionary. In a world now where McLaren are releasing a new car every couple weeks and you have Lamborghini churning out the masses. Making an impact the way the 458 did is going to be extremely hard to replicate. Especially when there’s over a year’s waiting list on a 488. I think the 488 is a brilliant platform for Ferrari’s 488 Speciale/GTO (or whatever they’ll call it). I’d be intrigued to see what they do to make this car better!