Ferrari’s new 488 GTB is one of the most hotly anticipated new models to come out of Maranello. That’s saying something, considering the fanfare that usually accompanies the launch of a new prancing horse. But how does it compare to its predecessor – the 458 Italia?
Launched in 2009, the 458 Italia sent jaws dropping almost as quickly as it could accelerate but, with more emissions regulations on the horizon, its razor-sharp 4.5-litre naturally aspirated V8 would quickly fell foul of these rules. So enter the 488 GTB, equipped with one of the first of a new line of turbocharged Ferrari engines.
The fundamental layout of the new 488 GTB hasn’t changed that much from the 458 Italia so you still get those classic mid-engined proportions. The flexible vanes in the front grille of the 458 have gone in favour of a more gaping intake with a fixed splitter and the five-spoke alloys have been swapped for five-twin-spoke units.
The lighting units have been subtly redesigned and the bonnet now houses two big air vents to improve airflow over the car. The sculpting down the sides of the car has been sharpened on the 488 and the vents in the 458’s rear side windows have moved to the rear haunches and are much larger to feed the two hungry turbos.
At the back, a large rear windscreen shows off the traditionally red valve covers of Ferrari engines in both cars. The rear lights have been restyled on the 488 for a more 3D effect, as have the grilles next to them. The rear diffuser is now larger and houses two big exhausts rather than the 458’s three centre-exit ones.
A cursory glance at the interiors of both cars might suggest very little has changed. But look closer, and you’ll find Ferrari has meticulously refreshed plenty inside the 488. All the switchgear, except that on the steering wheel and for the climate control, has been restyled and the centre console has been somewhat simplified.
Newly shaped vents flank the instrument binnacle which itself gets redesigned graphics for the infotainment and performance data screens. The redline is also 1,000rpm lower in the 488 – a symptom of the two turbos sitting either side of the engine.
The 488 GTB is unlikely to represent a massive change in driving characteristics compared to a 458 – both are powerful, mid-engined and tuned by Maranello’s finest to handle brilliantly.
The 488 will get the second-generation version of Ferrari’s Side Slip Control system that was first featured on the 458 Speciale. The system uses an array of sensors to determine the driving conditions and then controls the rear dampers, differential and power output to ensure that you’re still going the right way, even when sliding sideways.
Unquestionably the biggest change for the 488 GTB is the new engine that resides under its sculpted bodywork. Gone is the 562hp, high-revving, naturally aspirated V8 and in its place sits the new 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8 similar to the one used in the California T.
The pair of turbos now force 661hp from the engine, which means the sprint from rest to 62mph drops by 0.4 seconds to three seconds dead. The 561lb ft of torque – a massive 41 per cent increase over the 458 – is sent through a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox, via Ferrari’s electronic differential, to the rear wheels.
Can’t wait for the 488?
You’ve only got to wait until the Geneva Motor Show in March for more details of the 488 but, before then, why not take a look at our preview of the new turbo Ferrari and our reviews of the cars it has to beat – the McLaren 650S and the Lamborghini Huracán.