Let me take my objective hat off for a second. Driving a Ferrari is an experience that truly stirs the soul. Not long ago I had some track time around Kyalami with the 458 Italia and its nudist sister the 458 Spyder, and not even the overbearing nanny in the passenger seat detracted from the thrill.
So my mind was awash with flashbacks when I witnessed the unveiling of the new 488 GTB at the headquarters of Scuderia South Africa in Bryanston Johannesburg last week. The latest stallion picks up the torch from the outgoing 458 series. It looks a lot more aggressive, and is equally breathtaking from a visual perspective anyway. Of course we will have to sample the super car before giving you our unbiased verdict.
GTB stands for Gran Turismo Berlinetta, a name that graced the rump of the 308 GTB around 40 years ago. And if the aesthetics fail to get your levels of oxytocin flowing, the performance figures should. It employs an all new, 3 902cc turbocharged V8 engine. Ferrari allays any concerns about the dreaded lag that accompanies forced induction, claiming an interval of just 0.8 seconds before those ponies start galloping. Power is rated at 492kW and 760Nm, while the 0-100km/h sprint is dispatched in three seconds flat. It takes 8.3sec to get from standstill to 200km/h, according to Ferrari. One of the reasons for adopting a turbocharger was the quest for better efficiency.
The new 488 GTB has a claimed fuel consumption figure of 11.4l/100km. Ferrari describes the newcomer as the most responsive model there is, thanks to new electronic subsystems that serve to make the engine’s potent output more accessible. You can expect faster shifts, as well as a smarter version of Ferrari’s Side Slip Control system, which fosters “controlled over-steer” you can look like a drifting master in the corners with the sweet assurance of an electronic safety net. Some technology has also been lifted from the La-Ferrari hybrid hyper car. There are “vortex generators” underneath, which help make the car more aerodynamic. These offer better down-force at higher speeds. Compared to the 458, you will notice an abundance of ducts and gills in the bodywork of the 488 also for aerodynamic purposes.
The Brembo brakes also boast callipers derived from La-Ferrari, promising shorter stopping distances than the 458 and better cooling under hard driving. On the inside, the manufacturer has installed a new infotainment system, as well as new seats which are designed to be a bit more comfortable. The fascia has also been tweaked, being lighter, more compact and has vents that were inspired by “military jet air intakes”. Customers are also offered a comprehensive personalisation programme, to configure a unique example of the breed. You can also go mad with its catalogue of accessories. In the front trunk of the display model was an exquisite luggage set, which cost the same as a pre-owned Mini Cooper S. Drunk on the smell of Italian leather, I admit the thought of asking if they accepted lay bys crossed my mind. Prices start at R4.6-million for the Ferrari 488 GTB.