When it first burst onto the scene back in 2009, the 458 Italia with its combination of stunning looks, impeccable performance and race-derived technology left its rivals in the dust. However, with the arrival of cars like the McLaren 650S and Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 in recent years, the 458 has become like a sharp knife that’s lost its edge.
Ferrari [NYSE:RACE] was never going to let that situation last for long, so behold the 458’s successor (technically it's a mid-cycle update): the all-new 488 GTB. The latest mid-engine Ferrari dons the automaker’s GTB badge, which is short for Gran Turismo Berlinetta and last used on the 599 GTB. The badge was also used on the 308 GTB launched 40 years ago, which marked the first time Ferrari used a V-8 for a mid-engine car. Well, it was the first time if you don't count the Dino-badged 304 GT4 launched in 1973, which eventually got Ferrari badges in '76.
But getting back to the 488 GTB, as predicted the car sports a twin-turbocharged V-8 engine, a completely new unit not shared by any other model from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles [NYSE:FCAU], including Ferrari’s other turbocharged car, the California T.
The engine displaces 3.9 liters and produces a peak output of 660 horsepower at 8,000 rpm and 560 pound-feet of torque at 3,000 rpm. By comparison, the 458’s naturally-aspirated 4.5-liter V-8 produces 597 hp at a loftier 9,000 rpm and just 398 lb-ft of torque at 6,000 rpm in its final iteration found in the 458 Speciale. Thus, the difference the turbochargers make in the 488 GTB should be immediately apparent for anyone fortunate enough to drive both cars, with strong acceleration likely coming throughout the rev range and in most gears.
Ferrari 488 GTBEnlarge Photo
Looking at the numbers, the 488 GTB will accelerate to 62 mph from rest in 3.0 seconds and hit a top speed in excess of 205 mph. Similar claims are made for the hardcore 458 Speciale, but the 488 GTB will lap Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in a time of 1:23, which is 0.5 of a second quicker than the 458 Speciale—an impressive feat for a short track like Fiorano.
Beyond the new engine, the 488 GTB benefits from some impressive chassis technology developed using know-how gleaned by Ferrari technicians over the last decade through the XX program. Starting with the gearbox, still a seven-speed dual-clutch unit, Ferrari has added a Variable Torque Management system that controls the level of torque so that it is sent to the wheels smoothly and powerfully right across the rev range.
The car’s aerodynamic performance is also far superior to previous Ferrari models, allowing the 488 GTB to produce as much as 50 percent more downforce than the 458 as well as reduced drag. Key components include a double front spoiler, special side intakes, a flat underbody with vortex generators, and some active elements at the rear.
Ferrari 488 GTBEnlarge Photo
To further aid handling, Ferrari has added numerous electronic driving aids. These include an updated version of the side slip angle control system that debuted on the 458 Speciale. The new version, Side Slip Control 2, or SSC2 for short, is said to be more precise and less invasive, providing greater longitudinal acceleration out of corners. This works together with existing systems like the F1-Trac traction and stability control, the E-Diff limited-slip differential, and active dampers.
The interior of the 488 GTB is also different to that found in the 458. Classic Ferrari elements remain, such as the separation between the dashboard and tunnel, the multi-function steering wheel, the control switch bridge and plush bucket seats. The shape of the air vents, however, are new as are some of the controls located around the dash. Keyless start is also offered.
The weight of the car, dry, is 3,020 lbs.
The new Ferrari 488 GTB makes its world debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, which gets underway March 3. To see what else will be at the Swiss show, head to our dedicated hub.