A Ferrari 488 GTB-based mule has been spotted racking up laps on the Nürburgring and some surrounding roads.

The car is thought to be a tester for a hardcore version of the 488 to mark the end of the mid-engine supercar’s run. Recall, Ferrari is also running test mules for the 488’s replacement.

Compared to the 488 GTB, this hardcore version has a few subtle differences.

There are new intakes at outer edges of the front bumper and the side intakes have also been enlarged. Spanish website Motor.es in November published photos of a group of prototypes, and while some were hidden by heavy camouflage, one was almost completely uncovered.

According to the rumors, the hardcore 488 will revive Ferrari’s “GTO” badge, last used in 2010 on the 599 GTO. A 488 GTO would make an awesome spiritual successor to the 288 GTO of the 1980s, another mid-engine model powered by a twin-turbocharged V-8, and there’s actually some credibility here as Ferrari races the 488. The “O” in GTO stands for Omologato, Italian for “homologated.”

The 488 GTB’s 3.9-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 is good for 660 horsepower. This hardcore 488 is expected to have an output exceeding 700 hp. There should be upgrades to the aerodynamics and chassis, too.

2019 Ferrari 488 GTO leaked - Image via Motor.es

2019 Ferrari 488 GTO leaked - Image via Motor.es

Hopefully the car will also undergo a weight-saving program. McLaren’s 720S is roughly 200 pounds lighter than the 488 GTB, meaning it's doubtful the Ferrari will be able to match its British rival in the performance stakes, unless we see some new technology introduced.

The hardcore 488’s ace could be a hybrid system similar to what Ferrari used for the LaFerrari. The KERS-type hybrid system aids the engine by providing torque fill at low revs and a boost at higher engine speeds. It can also recover energy from both the engine and under braking.

The hardcore 488, whatever it ends up being called, is expected in 2018, one year before the 488 replacement is due. By the time it arrives, Porsche and Mercedes-AMG will have their respective 911 GT2 RS and GT Black Series models ready to face it. No doubt Lamborghini's Huracán Performante would also give it a run for its money.