FERRARI 488 GTB
LONG LIVE THE TURBOText and Photos: Reinis Babrovskis
Italy – the country that has brought us the finest art and architecture, Lucianno Pavarotti, Pizza, Vespa scooters, ridiculous hand gestures and the most beautiful cars on the Planet; the finest of them all the prancing horse of Maranello. Ferrari unveiled its 458 model’s replacement - the Ferrari 488 GTB in 2015 and shocked the world with its all-new turbo charged engine, leaving a lot of Ferrari fans astounded. What everybody didn’t realise at first was that this car could potentially be one of the best modern Ferraris to leave the Italian supercar factory floor. Masterpiece is the only word that comes to my mind when describing the 488GBT.
Ferrari has always been the pinnacle of supercars and no modern hypercars or electricity-breathing beasts will ever take that away from it. With a Ferrari one doesn’t just get a high performance sports car, it comes with a lot more. You suddenly are entered in this world of elite ownership’s club, mysterious “Ferrarimasons” if you like. You feel special and the car certainly makes you feel that way.
There will always be better, faster and more amazing cars out there but fear not, the Ferrari will never be overshadowed by any of them. Very few people will recognise a Pininfarina or Rimac or even more recognisable Lamborghini, Audi or McLaren; however, you rock up anywhere with a Ferrari and not one person will mistake this car for anything else – look, mum – there’s a Ferrari.
Sadly we’re now reached a time and place where cars are worth more than body organs and the limited production numbers of many sport vehicles result in their imprisonment. What I mean by that is that these thoroughbred animals get locked up in fancy garages never ever to be seen again; the owners are too afraid to drive them, for the risk of damage is far greater than the joy of driving them. And no matter how sad it may be, I fully understand them.
The Ferrari 488 GTB is a classic mid-engine 2-door berlinetta supercar built in the Ferrari Maranello factory between 2015 and 2019. The production of the 488 stopped in February 2019 when Ferrari announced its replacement the F8 Tributo. The Ferrari 488 received multiple “Car of the Year” awards in 2015 from world’s leading motoring journalists like Top Gear and Motor Trend.
The release of the 488 was rather a big deal if you ask me. Ferrari has always been pure, innocent supercars with a basic approach –simple yet effective aerodynamic design, luxurious presence and a big naturally aspirated engine. Downsizing the engine size and changing over to a forced induction was a bit of a shock for the brand’s devotees. Was it done to comply with the forever stricter EU’s regulations on emission control, or purely to extend the power output, only Ferrari will know the answer to that, but in reality, who cares – it was the best decision ever. Long live the turbo! And let’s be honest, not that it wasn’t done before; the best of the Ferraris ever made – the iconic F40 was turbo’ed and everybody loved it. And this is even quicker, so where is the issue I am asking?
The 458 Speciale was a sublime car and Ferrari knew it would be a hard car to replace; however, they managed to outdo themselves yet again with the 488. It was an unfaultable and amazing car straight out of the box. Highly praised for its looks, performance and handling capabilities it certainly is seen as one of the best modern supercars.
The 488GTB design remained faithful to the classic Ferrari lines and styling concept; in essence it was an improved 458, for Ferrari follows the strict evolution not revolution concept when designing its models. I believe the 488 GTB is visually more appealing and more rounded compared to the predecessor. The 488 GTB was designed in-house without the external involvement of the long life partners – Pininfarina. It was created by the Ferrari Styling centre under the watchful eye of the Italian architect and car designer Flavio Manzoni.
When trying to figure out what exactly makes it so beautiful one could argue for a long time, but I believe both front and rear lights are arguably the most beautiful parts of the 488 GTB.
Function over Form
Designed in the air tunnels 488 follows the less is more approach. It is evident that Ferrari believes in the simple and flawless aerodynamic principle without the need to add extra body parts. Quite opposite really – lose anything that is not needed, make the car work with the air and reduce the drag to achieve the maximum downforce.
The improved aero comes from the frontal double-level splitter, new under tray, blown rear spoiler and an enlarged active rear diffuser. The dual front large grille opening tunnels cold air directly into two large radiators, whilst the front splitter moves it towards the under tray. The bonnet also features two air channels helping to draw air into the front intakes.
The side profile remains very familiar and rather unchanged. A low-positioned aerodynamic door handle allows the air to flow over it and straight into the deep side air intake above the rear wheels. This cold air is fed towards the engine bay positioned behind the driver.
At the rear of the 488 it features a subtle blown rear spoiler and a diffuser for the maximum downforce. Unsurprisingly we also find more air vents to aid the cooling and airflow.
The combination of all these aero upgrades provides an overall 50% downforce improvement over the 458 and all that coming in at an impressive 325kg at 155mph. For all those that don’t do kilograms it is equivalent of 3 super big dudes sitting on top of your car.
I was absolutely in love with the interior of the 488GTB, undeniably this is where the Ferrari shines; you can spend weeks (and thousands) deciding on optional extras in a Ferrari: from colour of the seats to the stitching to go with it, carbon or more carbon and the options are endless. The large seats and yellow stitching in this 488GTB were the perfect choice to go with the mean looking exterior.
The overall look and design of the Interior as well as the driving position of the 488GTB was absolutely bang on the money; however, not everybody in the motoring industry agreed with it. A lot of motoring journalists complained about the crowded instrument pods and not so ergonomically friendly button layout. I disagree, it is equally majestic both inside and out; every single button and dial had been designed with the equal attention to detail as the exterior parts. Not often can one look at a button and say – yeah that is beautiful.
As always the Ferrari steering wheel looks magnificent and has an excellent feel to it. It may be a bit crowded though but if you ask me that gives you that race car authenticity. It takes just 2 turns to the full lock turn circle resulting in a razor sharp response. When dialled in the race mode the VDA (Vehicle Dynamic Assistance) in the dashboard will display everything you’ll need when driving the prancing horse hard, from tire temperatures to oil pressures and lap times.
The gearbox is actually nothing new, it is just an updated version of the unit found in the predecessor model and now features the Variable Torque Management also found in the Ferrari California T model. The flappy paddles are firm and each upshift and downshift feel engaging. The gearing is rather short in the first few gears, but allows the user to feel more involved. The power delivery is magnificent and is achieved with the independent map for each gear when it finally unleashes all 560lb at final gears at just 3000 rpm.
The turbo engine feels natural, responsive and without a turbo lag. It may just be one of the best turbo engines ever built. It is an engine that loves to rev and instantaneously makes you fall in love with it.
And now for the final figures : the 488GTB will reach 62mph from a standstill position in 3 seconds flat; however in additional 5.3 seconds it will be hitting the 124mph marker and it continue to go well beyond the 200 mph mark. Is it quick enough for you?
We are all aware that Ferraris are built by wizards and witches; they take tiny ponies, evil monsters and various metals and carbon fibre, throw them in a pot and poof –all the witchcraft happens and a Ferrari is born. Anybody who has experienced the thrill of driving one will agree – there are very few cars on the planet that will give you the same driving thrill as a Ferrari. The chassis is just perfect, the steering feel and brakes are magnificent and the ride is actually surprisingly soft when cruising around.
We live in a time now where cars as we know are becoming extinct – either being replaced by their electric counterparts, or being stored away in garages never to be seen again. This is the time to remind us why we got into sports cars and why we enjoyed them. Well before the days of hefty price tags and fear of driving them hard. Ferrari may be on the verge of building the last few proper petrol powered supercars so this will most certainly be a future icon can. If you are in position to afford one, get one, enjoy one and understand why Ferrari is the ultimate supercar.