It is an early November morning and I’m walking with an umbrella in hand to shield myself from the first wet snow of the winter season. In front of me a 12-tonnes truck pulls up with precious cargo for v-bulgaria. Inside the nondescript truck hides a Ferrari red prancing horse. Equipped with winter tires – thank god.
Thick snow flakes swerve down from the sky above as the truck driver unloads the Ferrari. Far from ideal conditions for a supercar with a 3.9 liter turbocharged V8 that produces 670hp and 760Nm – through the rear wheels. The driver hands me the key and wishes me ‘good luck’ with the red beauty. The key is surprisingly modern compared to the old-school LaFerrari key. The car has keyless go with a start / stop button on the steering wheel but no keyless entry.
Since we want to take a video and some photos when the snow clears I don’t waste time cruising around in wet mode but park the car in my garage. The double front spoiler has the benefit that the front overhang has more ground clearance than other cars in this segment allowing me to get in- and out of the garage without the need for a nose lift system. Having said that this is not the only practical thing I notice about the Ferrari straight away. The interior space is surprisingly well suited for tall people, I reckon people up to 2 meter in size sit comfortably with enough leg and head room.
Sitting at my desk waiting for the weather to clear I play some videos of the old naturally aspirated Ferrari 458 Italia in action. And wonder if the new engine will be able to provide anything that doesn’t make me miss that beautiful V8 sound of the predecessor.
A few hours later the clouds start to disappear and the streets dry out; this is the moment I have been waiting for. I rush down to the garage jump in the car and pick up our photographer Tobias. In wet mode the car is very comfortable and easy to drive, occasionally I pull one of the beautiful carbon fibre paddles mounted in a fixed position behind the wheel to change down a few gears. Making our way through rush hour traffic the car attracts quite a few looks and regularly people whip out their smartphone to snap a picture. It is clear – this is the archetypical supercar.
I reach the outskirts of town and the beginning of the famous unlimited German autobahn – my favorite test track in the world. I turn the famous Manettino from wet to sport to unlock a bit more of the cars potential. The light goes green and off we go – the engine fills the cabin with a full bodied V8 sound. Not quite as high pitched or loud as its predecessor but still unmistakably the sound of a Ferrari. The engine uses some clever technology holding some torque back in the lower gears to give a nice progressive acceleration feel.
At cruising speeds the car produces a great full bodied sound at 3,500 rpm – a great characteristic which allows you to thoroughly enjoy driving the Ferrari 488 GTB also below now-i’m-going-to-jail kind of speeds.
The first few hours behind the wheel I thoroughly enjoy the 488 and it exceeds my expectations in quite a few ways. But the real test is yet to come.
The next morning I wake up with shivers of sun light peeking through the curtains – yes today will be a good day. It is still cold but at least it is dry and sunny. On the program is a mix of autobahn and winding country roads. I top the car up with some premium fuel ready for a day of action.
On the first day I have only tested the wet and sports modes but there are three other modes you can select via the little switch: Race, Traction Control Off and Stability Control Off. The last two modes are primarily suited for the track and change a lot more than just the traction- or stability control – also the ABS per example. I find a nice winding bit of road that goes up- and down and left and right for almost ten kilometers with hardly any traffic. This is where the car feels really at home suspension and steering wise – it is agile and steering is very direct. Power wise there is way more than I need and that is a general problem that I have with many supercars these days: they provide so much power you can’t really enjoy it on most roads unless you want to lose your driver’s license or take risks you shouldn’t on a public road. Did I mention 0-100 km/h takes only 3.0 seconds flat and 0-200 km/h just 8.3 seconds?!
Race mode not only makes the shift times faster, it allows for a bit more drama – both in terms of acceleration (plenty of wheel spin in 1st gear) as in the corners (it allows a wider drift angle) as well as in terms of sound (open those flaps!).
On the autobahn the car sprints effortlessly from 80 or 100 km/h to well above 250 km/h. The gear changes are quick as lightning and only in 7th gear the pace of acceleration starts to slow a bit.
Design wise aerodynamics played a large role in defining the shape of the car. The front looks very elegant and simple but when you take a closer look you see all the details like the double front wing and the air outlets in the front bonnet that count for more downforce and reduction in drag. The rear has beautiful exposed rear LED lights with a carbon fibre part stretching inwards. The V8 engine lies gracefully underneath a glass cover. The only design parts I don’t really like are the doors with the weird bolt on door handles.
Inside carbon fibre and leather dominate – all instruments and controls are facing the driver. The air inlets are framed with carbon fibre and the seats are beautifully finished with red stitching. The infotainment system can be equipped with Apple CarPlay. The standard system works well although I find it a bit odd that the control knob on the right side is different from the one on the left side. Would have been more convenient if they would have been the same.
Overall the Ferrari 488 GTB is a very fast and versatile supercar – it combines killer performance with a surprisingly comfortable and spacious interior. The design looks cool and the interior is very refined. The new turbocharged engine doesn’t howl like its naturally aspirated predecessor but I’m a big fan of the turbo performance and different power delivery.