The 488 GTB name marks a return to the classic Ferrari model designation with ‘488‘ indicating the engine’s unitary displacement (i.e. the swept volume of each cylinder is 488cc), while ‘GTB‘ stands for Gran Turismo Berlinetta.
Forty years on from the unveiling of its first ever mid-rear-engined V8 Berlinetta, the 308 GTB, Ferrari opens a new chapter in its 8-cylinder history with a twin-turbocharged variant. The large signature air intake scallops, slung either side of the engine are a nod to the original 308 GTB – each divided into two sections by a splitter.
Producing breath-taking power figures (670 CV), and engine and vehicle response times of 0.8s and 0.06s respectively, Ferrari drew on its experience in both F1 and GT racing; in which the 458 holds the WEC title and has won its category in two editions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The new model also exploits the know-how gleaned by Ferrari engineers over the last decade through the XX programme.
Styling – The Exterior
Designed by the Ferrari Styling Centre, the 488 GTB features very sculptural flanks which are the key to its character. The front is characterised by the dual grille opening which channels air into the two radiators. There is also a double front spoiler which, on close inspection, looks very like those of the F1 single-seaters. At the centre, two pylons are combined with a deflector which channels air towards the flat underbody. The bonnet has a pronounced, raised central section and two side channels. These channels have the dual function of making the car look more sporty and channelling the air from the two vents in the bumper, which have been skilfully hidden from sight in the front view to keep the lines clean. The tail is dominated by the blown spoiler and the large air vents which help improve the car’s aerodynamics. The new exhaust tailpipes have been repositioned to accommodate the greater height required for the diffuser. Seen at close quarters, it has a surprising depth and glossiness achieved by using a triple-layer formulation in which millions of micro-particles are suspended in the paint.
Styling – The Interior
The 488 GTB’s new door panels feature a more comfortable, ergonomic armrest. The design is very clean while the buttons are very easy to reach. Great thought also went into the new seats which have fixed headrests. They are even lighter and offer extremely high containment whilst being very comfortable. The 488 GTB boasts a new Sport infotainment system designed for ease of navigation which keeps the various functionalities immediately to hand and integrates with the overall aesthetic. For the first time in a Ferrari, the 488 GTB’s key, itself inspired by the shape of the V8’s intake plenums, features “keyless start”.
The 3902cc power unit is perhaps, Ferrari’s best performance engine ever created with zero turbo lag and a unique, seductive soundtrack. It delivers 670 cv at 8,000 rpm with a specific power output of 172 cv/l – a new record for a road-going Ferrari – maximum torque of 760 Nm in seventh gear and a throttle response time of just 0.8 seconds at 2000 rpm in third gear. Consequently, the 488 GTB sprints from 0-100 km/h in 3 seconds flat and from 0-200 km/h in just 8.3. These superb performance figures are the result of a focus on achieving maximum efficiency across the board. In terms of combustion, this means new specially-shaped high-tumble intake ports combined with 200-bar direct fuel injection.
Numerous components contribute to the powertrain’s exceptional response times. The turbos are on ball-bearing-mounted shafts to reduce friction and the compressor wheels are made of TiAl (a low-density titanium-aluminium alloy), which, thanks to its lower inertia, ensures maximum spool-up speed. In addition, twin-scroll technology directs the exhaust gases from each cylinder through separate scrolls and increases the efficiency of the exhaust pulses for maximum power.
As the revs rise, the V8’s soundtrack increases in volume and clarity, in line with the increase in power. Pivotal to the sound in the cabin are the exhaust headers with longer, equal-length tubing and the flat-plane crankshaft. The soundtrack was further enhanced by an in-depth study of the harmonics and tonality at different engine speeds.
Aerodynamic solutions derived from Maranello’s experience on the track augment downforce without increasing drag, resulting in an efficiency figure of 1.67 – a record for a road-homologated Ferrari. Downforce is 50 per cent higher than on the previous model despite drag being reduced.
The front of the car is dominated by the central Aero Pillar and an F1-inspired double spoiler which boost the efficiency of both the radiator and downforce generation.
The 488 GTB has an innovative aerodynamic underbody that incorporates vortex generators, special curved aerodynamic appendages which accelerate the air thereby reducing pressure. The result is that the car’s underbody is “sucked” down to the ground and downforce is higher but drag is not. This contributes to overall downforce generation of 325 kg at 250 km/h.
The large rear diffuser has curved fences which optimise the expansion of the huge amount of air channelled under the car. It also features variable flap geometry controlled by a CPU, integrated with other vehicle control systems, which adjusts the balance between increased downforce (flaps closed) and drag reduction (flaps open).
The Ferrari-patented blown spoiler is a new solution. Air enters an intake at the base of the rear screen and exits via the bumper. This guarantees increased downforce and avoids having to extend the height of the rear spoiler and thus helps keep drag low. The “Base Bleed” air intakes on the car’s sides are divided by a central flap. The flow over the upper part of the flap, which is also used for the engine air intake, is deflected and exits from the tail area to reduce the drag caused by the low-pressure wake directly behind the car. The flow from the lower part of the flap goes to the intercoolers to cool the intake charge.
To turn the 488 GTB’s extreme power into unadulterated driving pleasure regardless of conditions, Ferrari drew on the vehicle dynamics experience it has built up in competition and through its laboratory cars on the various circuits worldwide. Subsystem and electronic control development focused principally on maximum responsiveness to the accelerator and total control with response times (0.06 seconds) comparable to those of a track car.
The gearbox features specific ratios to make the most of the engine’s incredible torque. Variable Torque Management delivers increasing amounts of torque up through the gears. As a direct result of these solutions, the 488 delivers track-style gear-shifting: it takes just 6 seconds to go from standstill in first to the limiter in fourth gear.
The evolved version of Ferrari’s Side Slip Control System, SSC2, is more precise yet less invasive, analysing various parameters to boost longitudinal acceleration out of corners by 12 per cent (in the Race and CT Off Manettino positions). Aside from just integrating with the car’s F1-Trac and E-Diff, the SSC2 now also controls the active dampers, rendering the car’s dynamic behaviour during complex manoeuvres even flatter and more stable.
The 488 GTB’s excellent dynamics are due in part also to the SCM 3 magnetorheological damping system which has a faster ECU to modify the magnetic field in the dampers, as well as three new sensors on the car body. This all translates into a feeling of greater body control with better bump absorption. The latest evolution of the ESP guarantees even more efficient ABS intervention in low-grip situations.
Thanks to the new Brembo Extreme Design braking system, the 488 GTB’s stopping distances are 9 per cent shorter than the previous model. Derived from the LaFerrari, the brakes also have new callipers that allow optimal cooling under extreme driving. They also feature new materials that ensure they reach optimal operating temperature faster and are more durable.
“Best Supercar”, Wheels “Car-of-the-Year” Awards 2016
“Supercar of the Year”, Top Gear Magazine Awards 2016
“2016 Car of the Year”, Robb Report