2016 Ferrari 488 GTB first drive review: mid-engine magic Page 2


By the time the Eclipse finally pulls off to the side, I'm more comfortable in this $353,838 piece of automotive art. Now it's time to open it up on the straights and charge into the corners to experience Ferrari at its best. First, I mash the throttle on a stretch of open road. The engine's low growl becomes an Italian concerto of freely revving, horizontally opposed pistons that is only slightly muted by the whistling turbos, and, holy mother of all that is good and pure, this thing moves!

Ferrari pegs the 0-to-60-mph time at 3.0 seconds and boasts about how immediately the engine responds. Ferrari isn't kidding. The steering wheel LEDs run quickly through their sequences, pulling the big carbon fiber paddles brings about right-now shifts, the turbos act like they've already spooled up, and the car takes off like a bat out of Maranello. I quickly reach extra-legal speeds, let off the throttle, and the 3.9-liter V-8 huffs off its final bit of excess intake pressure then goes back to docile suburban duty.

Upon arriving in Big Sur, I turn the car around and head back north with the aim of tackling the twists and turns of Carmel Valley Road. It takes a while to get there, and I'm amazed at how relaxed this car when driving it like a commuter. Supercars have a reputation for being high-strung and overly stiff. This car, along with others like the Audi R8 and McLaren 650S, is changing that stigma.

2016 Ferrari 488 GTB

2016 Ferrari 488 GTB

Enlarge Photo
2016 Ferrari 488 GTB

2016 Ferrari 488 GTB

Enlarge Photo
2016 Ferrari 488 GTB

2016 Ferrari 488 GTB

Enlarge Photo

Once I get to Carmel Valley Road, however, it becomes apparent that this thoroughbred isn't entirely tame. Tight, twisty, and rough, this road is a challenge for sports cars and drivers alike. As I dive into the corners, the 488 GTB bites into them with ease. The steering and the bumps are my challenges, though. The steering is so quick and so responsive that I have trouble keeping the car on the right path as I return the steering wheel to neutral when exiting corners. Overshoot it just a bit and 488 dutifully goes off in that ill-advised direction. There is no slop here—in either the steering or the suspension.

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Despite the fairly forgiving ride, this road is just too bumpy for comfort in the 488. I feel as I'm being tossed around inside the car and that keeps me from going as hard as I might in a smoother riding car like a Porsche 718 Boxster or a VW GTI. Thankfully, there is enough compliance here to keep the tires on the pavement when I encounter a bump mid-corner. However, if Carmel Valley Road were glass smooth, I'd be in automotive heaven driving this car through these esses.

After a few minutes in the twisties, I realize it's time to return the car to Casa Ferrari.

My time in this car, sadly, is done. I have learned a few things in my 90 miles behind the wheel, though. Drive the 488 GTB in a relaxed manner and it responds in kind, though with a sex appeal that is seldom seen on American roads. Drive it hard, and you had better be on point. The 488 GTB makes you a better driver because it demands it of you. It responds directly to your inputs, so you had better have quiet hands and a smooth driving style if you want to get the most out of Ferrari's fantastic mid-engine super sports car.


 
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