Hot new contender for the Supercar Run at FoS this year? It’s a tantalising prospect for sure – the 458-replacing 488 GTB unveiled today takes the Italian mid-engined berlinetta to new – turbocharged – heights.
It’s got 100 more horsepower than the 458 Italia and gets from 0-125mph in 8.3secs. It also features active aerodynamics that reduce drag while at the same time boosting downforce – Ferrari says by 50 percent over the 458.
The 488 GTB does all this with a nod back in time 40 years to the launch of the 308 GTB – those sculptural flanks with giant air scallops are said to have been inspired by the 1975 Pininfarina-designed classic. Hmm, not quite sure about that, but the splitters within the intakes do make a distinctive feature.
Overall the design is clearly an evolution of the 458. What’s under the engine cover, however, is more of a revolution.
Ferrari and turbocharging have been bedfellows going back decades, and forced induction has been the power behind some of the greatest ever models: 288 GTO and F40 among them. There’s no doubting though that the GTB has been synonymous with a normally-aspirated engine. The switch to turbo power will be controversial for some.
Power may be up but cubes are down. The 488 GTB gets a new 3902cc V8, half a litre less than the 458 lump.
The twin-turbo unit is rated at 661bhp at 8000rpm – when, asserts Ferrari, it will sound as good as a Ferrari should with a ‘new soundtrack that is full, clear and totally distinctive.’ We can’t wait to get an earful.
Torque is 760Nm (561lb ft) which is, again, a sizeable increase over the 458 Italia. Plus, all that twisting action peaks at just 3000rpm, exactly half the revs needed for max torque in the 458. That’s a turbo for you… The seven-speed ‘box features a variable torque management system to keep things smooth.
With the more slippery shape, all-round performance is up. The 1370kg machine is credited with 0-62mph in 3.0secs and 0-125mph 8.3secs with a top speed of 205mph. Extra electronic systems are claimed to make the drive more responsive than ever while the revised aerodynamics, which include vortex generators in the underbody, are behind that major gain in downforce.
In the supercar battle with McLaren the 488 GTB amounts to a potent and very timely riposte. On paper there’s barely a fag paper between the 488 and Woking’s 675 Longtail, also to have its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month.
What chance seeing them both against the clock at the Festival of Speed in June?
Watch this space – traditionally Ferrari model changeovers happen during the factory’s summer shutdown in August, and at this stage the first customer right-hookers won’t be here ’til the end of the year at the earliest.
But we can hope. One thing for sure, this latest round of Ferrari vs McLaren will be as compelling as any – as exciting as the impending battle between them on the Grand Prix circuit!