The Ferrari 488
Prepare to be Mesmerised
Italians are used to the occasional bit of bad press. It wasn’t so long ago that Berlusconi seemed to be on a one man mission to Bunga Bunga the whole country into some sort of amped up hyper-sexual Euro Benny Hill pastiche. Everywhere you turned it appeared that he was promoting this week’s pneumatic young woman to Head of Nuclear Energy, or attending a conference in the role of EU Gentlemen’s Ambassador at the villa of one of his hideous cronies.
But stereotypes, as fun as they are, only tell the story you want them to.
Plus, there is always an equally powerful and often contradictory trope waiting to be deployed.
Let’s not forget the North European shibboleths about Italians and tasteful seduction, a grasp of style that seems somehow atavistic and the ability to combine the sacred with the profane when it comes to the creation of objects.
With these in mind, I give you the mesmerising Ferrari 488. An idea forged in the minds of the Italian Futurists with a face straight from Roman mythology.
Because, for all the pomp and braggadocio of Ferrari, the folk at Maranello somehow manage to distill absolute automotive genius into a single form. Michelangelo Schumacher, if you will.
The 488, so called because of its 488cc cylinder capacity, replaced the highly regarded, normally aspirated 458 in 2015. Its birth corresponded with the return to turbo-charging in F1 and so, accordingly, the resulting engine choice comprises of a delicious 3.9 V8 block with bespoke twin turbos. And don’t be worried about loss of aural character… despite the presence of the jet engineering in the turbines, the familiar prancing horse whinny is still there on the depression of the right pedal.
The resulting spike in performance delivers 670 bhp. All those horses need to be harnessed in some sort of meaningful fashion, so it’s lucky that the F1 derived dual-clutch gear box by Getrag sits at the top of the car’s spine for a smooth and instantaneous translation of grunt to usable motion.
And be assured, engine and transmission work very, very well. Allowing the mini-F1 car the ability to hit 60mph in a smidge under 3 seconds on the right day. 125mph is reached just over 5 seconds later at 8.3 seconds. It’s both slick and quick.
Speed like that requires management, so it’s no surprise that the ceramic brakes in the 488 are derived from LaFerrari and deliver a 9% stopping-distance advantage on the outgoing 458.
This, when allied to a 50% downforce increase bought about by some very clever aerodynamics, means that this frankly astonishing car is as good at coming from speed as it is getting to and being there.
A Da Vinci-like example of the wonderful things achievable by man. A unique exercise of the highest artistic and rational faculties condensed into the form of a car that would deserve to be in a museum if it weren’t so damn good to drive.