Ferrari’s 488 Pista is a 488 GTB with more power, less weight and a firmer chassis. It’s the most driver-focussed Ferrari V8, as a name that means track in Italian hints.
The bloodline started with the 360 Challenge Stradale of 2003. Based on the 360 Modena, the Challenge Stradale paid attention during the 360’s racing exploits, then transferred the knowledge to a road-legal track toy.
Since then the concept has evolved, the name changed for each of three subsequent models, but all take Ferrari’s brilliant mid-engined V8 models and dial up the excitement: witness 430 Scuderia (2007), 458 Speciale (2013) and now 488 Pista.
Technology transfer from motorsport remains core, the Pista borrowing both from the one-make 488 Challenge racecar and the 488 GTE from the World Endurance Championship. Ferrari claims it’s never crammed so much racing know-how into a road car.
The Pista weighs 90kg less than a GTB, partly thanks to carbonfibre bumpers and bonnet and a more minimalistic interior. Even the glovebox disappears to save weight, and you’ll find aluminium floor plates, carbonfibre race seats and door casings, extensive use of Alcantara too
But the Pista cabin is no mobile torture chamber: the seats are comfortable, and there’s climate control and sat-nav, even if the latter is a little fiddly. The options list continues the lightweight motorsport theme: choose 20-inch carbonfibre alloys that are 20 per cent lighter than standard, plus carbon-fibre embellishments for the engine bay and bodywork, maybe a titanium exhaust. There’s even a special ‘Piloti Ferrari’ specification. The catch? Only those who race in Ferrari motorsport programmes are eligible.
Along with putting the GTB on a diet, the Pista adds 20 per cent more downforce, 10 per cent stiffer springs and stickier Michelin Cup 2s. These upgrades alone create a considerably sharper drive – tighter body control, a slightly chunkier feel to the super-rapid steering and crisper-turn in are all evident.
But the biggest upgrade is to the twin-turbocharged V8. Over 50% of parts are said to be new, many of them considerably lighter, and powers jumps to 710bhp and 568lb ft – bounds of 49bhp and 7lb ft over the not-slow GTB.
This is a fabulous engine. Ferociously rapid and instantly responsive, it is shot through with an exotic richness few can match. That dual-clutch gear shifts engage like you’re pulling a trigger only adds to the sensation of gushing performance.
Perhaps most surprising is how elastic the Pista’s performance feels – it’s as happy hitting the high notes on track as it cruising smoothly and flexibly around town.
With three legendary predecessors and the already exceptional 488 GTB, the bar was set dauntingly high for the 488 Pista. It more than delivers.
Crucially, the Pista delivers when you drive as hard as you dare on track: the performance is scintillating, the chassis a delectable balance of sky-high front-end grip and playful oversteer, and the brakes are frankly astonishing. Impressively, that character translates to the road, proving engaging even if you’re leaving a large chunk of 710bhp on the table rather than smeared down the tarmac.
When you’re just ambling, the Pista also feels a more rounded proposition than the 458 Speciale, a car that fizzed constantly with excitement and was impressively usable, but could become tiresome with over-exposure. The Pista manages to bottle a similarly invigorating driver experience, and yet feels even more supple and smooth.
Of its predecessors, the Pista is perhaps most comparable to the 430 Scuderia. It’s everything you love about the 488 GTB, just with a load more attitude. Who wouldn’t want some of that?
Price of our car: £282,621 (including £29,856 of options)