Heir to the F40
When I was a little boy, I -like many of those my age- had one poster on my bedroom wall. It was arguably the wildest Ferrari ever made: the F40.
That car truly was poster fodder: a beacon of insane performance and proper supercar looks. But given that it's a very limited edition (there's supposedly only one in the country), the chance to drive one is very slim. So I guess I'll have to settle for this: the 488 GTB.
I know what you're thinking: the Ferrari 488 GTB is not a direct successor to the F40. The 488 hails from the line of Ferrari's V8 mid-engined sports cars (i.e. 458, F430, 360 Modena, F355, so on) while the F40 comes from the supercar line that includes the F50, the Enzo, and the LaFerrari. Despite that, I'd argue that the 488 is perhaps the best spiritual successor to the legendary F40.
From design alone, it's no F40, but it sure looks like a supercar. No longer is the design “outsourced” to Pininfarina; instead, Ferrari honed the look of the aluminum monocoque at their in-house design studio. The 488 is low, wide, and shaped with a purpose. It's a white rifle bullet meant to slice through and bend the air to its will of performance.
Driving this turbocharged Ferrari is a learning experience in itself. Yes, you read that right, this is a boosted mid-engined Ferrari; the first the company has produced since the F40 with its 2.9-liter twin-turbo V8. But unlike the spartan F40, modern technology is so much better that the weight penalty of modern luxuries like leather, electric seats, and many other power features have been overcome significantly by outright power: the 488 GTB makes 661 bhp versus the F40's 471 bhp. By comparison, the F40 has a power-to-weight ratio of 344 bhp per tonne; the 488 GTB's is 428 bhp/tonne.
Unlike its naturally aspirated predecessors, the 488's engine and exhaust notes are deep and guttural. Many of those who drove the 488 don't like the sound, but I do; it's just different, but you know it's that way for a reason.
As a daily drive, the 488 can be a handful. It's not really meant for our tight roads, and so you'll have to be mindful of things like the width, the ride height, and the stiffness of the suspension. Ferrari did put in some options to take care of it like a system that raises the front by about 2 inches and a variable suspension that becomes more pliant at the push of a button. Still, driving it around town or to places like the mall on a Sunday can be nerve racking especially since it lives in superstardom, and that makes it magnetic for amateur paparazzi.
Really though, the 488 is meant to run on an open mountain road, and that's exactly where I took it. Unfortunately the weather was mostly wet, so much so that I had the 488's systems such as the gearbox, traction control, and suspension in the most conservative settings, as it's best to not to be a highlight on the World's Dumbest Car Crashes with a Ferrari.
Acceleration is immediate; this thing does a quarter mile in 10.5 seconds, and sprints from 0-100 km/h in three. The boost doesn't come in like a punch in the back; it just pushes you along with a linearity unexpected of turbos. And even in monsoon levels of rain in the mountains, the 488 never feels like it's going to get away from you without telling you via the steering and the tires. It's easy to be smooth and confident if you know what you're doing behind the wheel.
It took Ferrari a while to re-embrace turbo power since the F40, and I'm glad they did. I like that they focused on the shape and aerodynamics, and created something that -much like its grandfather three decades ago- could well be poster fodder. Or your next desktop wallpaper.
Engine: V-8, 3902cc, dohc, 32V, twin turbo intercooler, 7-speed F1 DCT
Max Power: 661 bhp @ 8000 rpm
Max torque: 561 lb ft @ 3000 rpm
0-100 km/h: 3.0 sec.
Top Speed: 330 km/h
Fuel Mileage: 4.9 km/l City / 10.7 km/l Highway
+: The new Ferrari performance standard
-: Interior configuration is better suited for GT's
Price as tested: POA