By Micah Muzio
Spend $250,000 on a supercar and it better rock your world. The Ferrari 488 GTB does exactly that starting with its seductive yet exquisitely functional exterior. Sculpted for maximum downforce at high speeds the 488’s shape makes a racy promise fulfilled by its dynamic abilities. “Fast” describes full-throttle acceleration in the GTB as inadequately as “sporty” conveys its world-class handling. A standard adaptive suspension facilitates extraordinary handling and a surprisingly decent ride while reality-bending forward motion comes courtesy of a monstrously powerful twin-turbocharged V8 teamed with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Depending on your tastes a Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4 or McLaren 650S might better fulfill your automotive fantasies but if your childhood bedroom featured a Ferrari poster, there is no substitute for a 488 GTB.
In addition to being an incredibly fast eyeball magnet the Ferrari 488 GTB is also one of the automotive world’s clearest expressions of success. Grounded in a rich Italian heritage of speed and exclusivity the reasons for buying a Ferrari are obvious.
Building off the 458 Italia that preceded it the Ferrari 488 GTB is distinguished by numerous enhancements including a thoroughly updated exterior and a new turbocharged V8 engine.
To experience the 488’s first trick, try depressing the accelerator as long as you dare. In mere seconds you’ll have blasted past any speed limit this side of Germany with...
... zero sign that the brutal acceleration might relent. In any gear at any time warp speed is summoned via your right foot. Thankfully a few inches to the left you’ll find a brake pedal that modulates the standard carbon-ceramic brakes. Provided you’ve warmed them up, the brakes shed speed with seatbelt-straining effectiveness. As you’d imagine, when presented with a curve, the Ferrari 488 GTB clings tenaciously to tarmac. All this dynamism generates action-packed fun and yet the 488 is somehow approachable and easy to drive. Neat trick, Ferrari! Even neater, an adaptive suspension and smooth-shifting dual-clutch transmission make the 488 GTB an oddly capable commuter…though there’s nothing sadder than a Ferrari stuck in traffic.
Placed to the right of the tachometer, the 488’s driver-centric infotainment system features a small screen, a knob and a few buttons. Unimpressive as that sounds the system makes controlling audio, navigation and phone functions both quick and intuitive.
MULTI-FUNCTION STEERING WHEEL
Defying automotive convention, designers consolidated essential controls into buttons on the steering wheel. In that tight real estate you’ll find windshield wipers, engine start, high beams, turn signals and the all-important Manettino drive-mode controller. Even with such an unusual control scheme, operating the Ferrari 488 GTB quickly becomes instinctive.
With a racy yet somehow tastefully restrained design the interior of the Ferrari 488 GTB nicely complements its stunning exterior. Climbing aboard requires zero gymnastics, unlike some supercars. The cabin is also roomier than you might expect. Slide the driver seat to its rearmost position and an average-sized adult can barely reach the steering wheel and pedals. Given its mid-engine layout the trunk is actually up front, offering ample space for luggage. Need more room? A handy parcel shelf can be found behind the seats. In total the 488’s interior is pleasing, functional and unexpectedly livable.
If asked to close your eyes and imagine a Ferrari you’d probably conjure the 488 GTB. Its classic mid-engine proportions and striking shape are simultaneously inspiring and completely functional. At 155 mph the GTB’s meticulously engineered bodywork, scoops, vents and underbody panels conspire to generate more than 700 pounds of road-holding aerodynamic downforce; a reassuring fact when traveling that quickly. While the coupe’s seductive charms are undeniable some buyers prefer unfettered access to wind, sun and adoring onlookers. For them the convertible 488 Spider is the superior choice.
Included on all Ferrari 488 GTBs are massive and highly capable carbon-ceramic brakes, a gauge-cluster-mounted infotainment system, an array of advanced electronic aids that enhance handing and performance without sacrificing driver involvement, and keyless engine start…though unlocking the vehicle requires reaching into your pocket and pressing a button on the fob. Not included on the standard equipment roster is a rearview camera; a notable oversight given the marginal rearward visibility synonymous with mid-engine cars.
Utilizing a vast swath of interior themes, exterior paint choices and custom stitching, the 488 GTB is endlessly customizable. For elevated aesthetic impact and, presumably, weight savings, a range of carbon-fiber trim pieces is also available, though they are awfully expensive. For perspective, our test car’s optional carbon-fiber bits totaled more than $70,000; pricy but the interior and exterior did look super-cool. Even so, in our eyes the only truly necessary add-ons are the optional front and rear parking cameras. Spending $6,000 for two cameras seems expensive until you accidentally crack your $9,600 carbon-fiber rear diffusor.
On display beneath the rear glass is a gloriously conceived powertrain. Supported by a pair of turbochargers the 3.9-liter V8 develops heroic power that is transmitted to the rear wheels through a brilliantly quick 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Ferrari cleverly crafted unique power delivery protocols for each of those seven ratios, saving maximum torque for the highest gear. Consequently each upshift leads to more relentless acceleration. Magnifying the thrill of that acceleration is the sound of the V8; a melodious song born from a flat-plane crank, equal-length headers, and the endless scrutiny of Ferrari’s engineering staff. Finally, despite the presence of turbochargers the V8 responds to throttle inputs with the satisfying immediacy of a naturally aspirated engine.
3.9-liter twin-turbocharged V8
661 horsepower @ 8,000 rpm
561 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 mpg, 16/22 mpg with Stop/Start option
“Base price” (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price or MSRP) for the Ferrari 488 GTB is $249,150, placing it alongside the Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4 or McLaren 650S. Spring for the convertible 488 Spider and that price rises to $276,450. Of course most 488 buyers will want to dip into Ferrari’s deep well of options. Do so without restraint and you can easily add $100,000 to the asking price. If you’re curious about value-priced alternatives, the Audi R8, Porsche 911 Turbo and Acura NSX offer arresting style and performance for around $90,000 less than the 488 GTB. Then again, none of those cars is a Ferrari. Given its exclusivity, resale data is limited for the Ferrari 488 GTB. Then again, it’s easy to imagine that exclusivity helping preserve the 488’s value over time. Go ahead; check out KBB.Com Fair Purchase Price to see what the Ferrari is going for in your area!