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Ferrari 488 GTB – 458 Italia replacement goes turbo

Published: 03 February 2015

► New Ferrari 488 GTB unveiled
► Will replace 458 Italia as junior V8
► Another turbocharged Ferrari! 

This is the new Ferrari 488 GTB – a 661bhp twin-turbocharged replacement for the Ferrari 458 Italia. Star of the Ferrari stand at the 2015 Geneva motor show, the 488 GTB is only the second turbocharged Prancing Horse of the modern era, following last year’s revised California T.

Prior to that, you have to go back to the F40 to find another one. The update brings massive performance, revised looks with improved aerodynamics and is set to delivery greater fuel economy. But is this what Ferrari buyers really want?

Is the Ferrari 488 GTB all-new or an update to the 458 Italia?

In customary Ferrari fashion, while the 488 GTB looks quite distinctive it is not an all-new car. In the manner of the change from 308 to 328 and 360 to 430, this is instead such significant update to the 458 that it’s earned an entirely new name.

Does ‘488 GTB’ stand for anything in particular?

Ferrari loves a name game, and in this case the 488 refers to the individual cylinder capacity of the new 3902cc twin-turbo V8.

GTB stands for Gran Turismo Berlinetta, Italian for a grand tourer with coupe styling. The use of these three letters in this instance also pays homage to the 308 GTB – Ferrari’s first mid-rear-engined V8, which just happens to be celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

What’s going on with the way the 488 GTB looks?

There’s another nod to the 308 in the scalloped shape of the air intakes on the side of the car, echoing those on the 488's forebear – albeit on the much larger scale necessitated by the new turbo engine’s cooling requirements. The splitter in the middle is just one element of the new car’s hugely overhauled aero package.

That LaFerrari-esque nose, for example, channels air towards the underside of the car, while the double-profile front spoiler improves the efficiency of the radiators. At the back there’s a ‘blown’ rear spoiler, which uses the difference between high- and low-pressure areas to improve downforce without increasing drag.

This works in combination with the rear diffuser, which is set at such an aggressive angle Ferrari had to move the exhaust pipes; it also has active flaps to increase its effectiveness at speed. Vents beside the new rear lights help cool the radiators for the gearbox and differential while also pushing turbulent, drag-increasing air away from the back of the car.

Ferrari 488 GTB: in profileFerrari hasn’t given specific figures yet, but says the 488 produces 50% more downforce than the 458 while generating less drag. By our calculations this means the equivalent of 210kg pushing down on the car at 124mph. Sounds grippy to us...

Ok, enough of the geek-speak – how fast is the Ferrari 488 GTB?

124mph. That’s pretty fast, right? Well, the 488 GTB takes just 8.3sec to get there. This makes it 0.8sec quicker than the 458 Speciale, and a crucial tenth faster than the McLaren 650S – though we are still awaiting the full specification of the McLaren 675LT, which might just spoil Ferrari’s party at Geneva.

The 0-62mph benchmark takes 3.0 seconds in the 488 – exactly the same as both the McLaren 650S and the 458 Speciale. Top speed is 208mph.

How powerful is the Ferrari 488 GTB’s new turbocharged engine?

Finally, the really juicy bit. In place of the old naturally aspirated 4.5-litre V8 in the 458, Ferrari has fitted the 488 with a new 4.0-litre twin-turbo. The 661bhp this produces at 8000rpm is a face-flattening 99bhp more than before – and still 64bhp up on the uprated 4.5 in the Speciale. It also arrives 1000rpm earlier.

560lb ft of torque is 161lb ft more than before, but don’t expect to get the full whack in every gear. Ferrari hasn’t confirmed the exact details yet, but the 488 GTB does feature ‘Variable Torque Management’ like the California T, which should mean the muscle builds progressively rather than arriving in one sudden overwhelming lump.

Ferrari 488 GTB: the buzz

This is part of the way Ferrari hopes to maintain that naturally aspirated excitement it’s so famous for; for similar reasons it has also expended a great deal of effort refining the new engine’s sound – though we’ll have to wait until we drive it to pass judgement on that.

Any other high-tech tricks on the Ferrari 488 GTB?

The new car also features a second-generation version of Ferrari’s Side Slip Angle Control system, which is designed to let you slide the car around, comfortable in the knowledge that there’s still an electronic safety net. This now interacts with the active dampers as well as the E-Diff and the F1-Trak traction control system, keeping the car flatter to improve your view out of the side windows.

Behind the wheel of the new Ferrari 488 GTB

Ferrari has also completely redesigned the infotainment system, while the key is said to be styled after the new V8’s cylinder banks. We’re yet to see visual confirmation of this.

What price is the Ferrari 488 GTB and when does it go on sale?

Ferrari won’t announce prices for the 488 GTB until the 2015 Geneva Motor Show in March, and even then UK pricing won’t be confirmed until later in the year when the exact standard specification has been finalised. 'Budget' upwards of £200k – especially if you want to tuck into any options.

You’ll be able to order a 488 GTB as soon as it’s revealed at the show, and left-hand drive production is set to start in September. Right-hand drive production will follow between three and six months after that, most likely meaning that the first UK customers will get their cars at the beginning of 2016.

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