Ferrari’s new GTB arrives 40 years after the company's first mid-rear-engined V8 model to wear the Gran Turismo Berlinetta, the 308 GTB, and follows the California T in signalling the end of the company’s famous naturally aspirated eight-cylinders.
The 488 GTB’s 3902cc engine is similar in capacity to the GT convertible’s 3855cc unit and also employs dual turbos, though is said to be a different design.
Power is substantially higher than both the California T (412kW) and 458 (419kW), with 492kW produced at 8000rpm.
Torque is also significantly increased over the 458, from 540Nm to 760Nm – though as with the California T the maximum pulling power is available only in top (seventh) gear of the dual-clutch gearbox.
Ferrari’s variable torque management is at play here, designed to produce a power delivery more in keeping with the character of a non-turbo V8.
While the twin-turbo V8 doesn’t rev as high as the 9000rpm of the 458’s 4.5-litre V8, performance is lifted markedly.
The Ferrari 488 GTB sprints from 0-100km/h in the same 3.0 seconds as the 458 Speciale but reaches 200km/h in just 8.3 seconds and is 0.5 seconds faster (1min23sec) than the Speciale around Ferrari’s Fiorano test track.
Turbos always bring concerns about engine sound, but Ferrari is insisting its engineers have ensured the 458 successor has a "distinctive" soundtrack that will live up to expectations.
The introduction of turbos is primarily to help improve efficiency – even Ferrari can’t escape ever-stricter emissions regulations – and the 488 lowers fuel consumption from 13.3 litres per 100km to 11.4L/100km and C02 emissions from 307 grams per kilometre to 260g/km.
488 GTB drivers will again gain assistance to feel like a Formula One driver with an evolution of Side Slip Control(SSC2), which Ferrari says is now “more precise and less invasive and allows for greater longitudinal cornering speed”. It’s again integrated with F1-Trac and E-Diff, but SSC2 also now controls active dampers designed to flatten the car’s cornering attitude.
The 488 GTB is also a styling evolution of the 458, though there’s a greater Formula One influence – especially at the front where the scalloped bonnet, twin ‘pylons’ and ‘double front’ spoiler combine to imitate the nose section and front wing of an F1 car.
Ferrari says the 488 generates a remarkable 50 per cent extra downforce over the 458, due mainly to an aerodynamic underbody and a ‘blown’ rear spoiler the company says creates downforce without additional drag. The rear diffuser also incorporates active flaps.
Inside, the dash layout remains driver-centric though there are clear changes to the arrangement and provision of various switches and dials. The centre console featuring for Launch Control/Auto/Reverse buttons also switches from a staggered three-across to straight three-up layout. The steering wheel remains unchanged.
The Ferrari 488 GTB will appear at March’s 2015 Geneva motor show and go into production in September. Timing and pricing for Australia have yet to be confirmed.