Dream Racing recently hosted me at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. For a look at the exotic car driving experience benchmark, check out my review here. During my time with Dream racing, I drove the latest and greatest from Maranello – the Ferrari 488 GTB.
Ferrari had a tall order to fill with the 488 GTB. Very tall. Its predecessor, the 458, was near perfect – high revving naturally aspirated V8 goodness with looks to kill and handling to boot. No doubt feeling pressure in the supercar horsepower battle, Ferrari had to up the ante with the 488 GTB. They did just that. Up 91 hp to 661 hp, the 488 GTB features a downsized 3.9L (from 4.5L) twin-turbo V8.
The 488 GTB’s number game is not quite McLaren 650S strong, but it’s strong nonetheless. Weighing in less than the 458 at 3,020 lbs. dry, 0-60 comes in at 3.0 seconds. The quarter mile takes 10.6 seconds. And the top speed is 205 mph. So what was there to worry about?
My fear with the 488 GTB was two-fold – sound and turbo lag. With sound playing such a key role in the driving experience, I was worried the two spinning snails would muffle the shriek of 661 prancing horses. This is a tough one. The sound is good, but, it’s not 458 good. It is quieter on startup, more discreet in lower RPMs, and doesn’t produce the same hellacious shriek that the 458 does at redline. Despite its meeker demeanor, the sound is still distinctly Ferrari flat-plane crank V8, and that’s a very good thing.
Turbo lag? There is none. Power is predictable and linear. The 488 GTB pushes you back into your seat at any speed, and the tachometer needle climbs faster to an 8,000 rpm redline than anything I’ve ever driven. I admittedly bounced off the rev limiter on a few occasions.
When it comes to the 488 GTB’s handling, Ferrari somehow managed to improve upon the perfection that was the 458. In typical Ferrari fashion, the steering is light yet offers great feedback – none of that heavy Lamborghini AWD nonsense. The front and rear feel planted with minimal understeer, and oversteer is kept in check.
The biggest difference I noticed with the 488 GTB compared to its predecessor was the level of grip. It is staggering. There is no obtrusive wing or gaudy canards. Yet point the nose, and it sticks. Hard. Study the 488 GTB’s aerodynamics, and it’s not difficult to see why – “aero pillars,” “double splitters,” and “base bleed aero.” Curious words that render blank stares among most are to thank, or so I’m told. All these things work to produce 325 kg of downforce at 250 km/h, a figure 50% greater than that of the 458. This all happens while reducing drag.
The 488 GTB is simply amazing – a prime example of the modern RWD supercar. It’s blisteringly quick and hugs the tarmac harder than a freshman does a toilet during welcome week. The improvements over the 458 are both worthy and tangible and need to be experienced to believe, especially after a romp in a 458.
Image Credit: Dream Racing, Ferrari