Brian Joss –
On its official debut at the Geneva Motor Show, the 488 GTB set a new benchmark for the sports car sector. Forty years on from the launch of Ferrari’s iconic first-ever mid-rear-engined V8 Berlinetta, the 308, the 488 GTB opens a new chapter in the history of cars with this particular architecture.
Credit for this achievement must go to the 488 GTB’s revolutionary proprietary solutions which deliver a car at the top of its class in terms of power output (670 cv) with engine and command response times of just 0.8 and 0.06 seconds respectively. Significantly, sophisticated dynamic vehicle controls make this massive power completely controllable even on the limit by drivers of all abilities, resulting in the unique driving pleasure that only a Ferrari can deliver.
Ferrari drew extensively too on its experience in both Formula One and endurance racing, bringing to the road the technology that delivered victory in two editions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the title in the WEC (World Endurance Championship). Also pivotal was the XX programme in which Ferrari’s technicians have developed a unique knowledge of the dynamic behaviour of extreme cars driven by non-professional drivers.
The 488 indicates the engine’s unitary displacement, while the GTB stands for Gran Turismo Berlinetta, a reference to its deep roots in Ferrari history.
Designed by the Ferrari Style Centre, the 488 GTB’s sculptural forms are completely new. They accentuate the car’s sportiness yet retain the classically clean, pure lines typical of Ferrari’s legendary styling. The seamless interweaving of form and function is clear in every detail, in fact. Certain design elements are also obvious nods to the past, not least the 308 GTB-inspired styling of the flanks.
The extreme power required by the car is delivered by the new 3902 cm3 turbo engine which is coupled with a seven-gear F1 dual-clutch gearbox featuring Variable Boost Management which optimally distributes torque (a maximum 750 Nm in seventh gear). The 488 GTB guarantees exuberant performance that is absolutely exploitable to the fullest regardless of driving conditions and is accompanied by a deep, seductive soundtrack, the signature of all Ferrari engines.
The 488 GTB’s revolutionary aerodynamics incorporate patented solutions, such as the blown rear spoiler, as well as innovative features like the 458 GT-derived aerodynamic underbody with vortex generators. The result is a new efficiency record for a Ferrari (E=1.67). Downforce increases to 325 kg at 250 km/h, thanks in part to active aerodynamic devices which reduce drag whilst simultaneously generating downforce when required.
GTB’s dynamic vehicle controls have also been further evolved. It sports a new version of the Side Slip Control System (SSC2) which, aside from just integrating with the car’s F1-Trac and E-Diff, now also controls the active dampers. This renders the 488 GTB’s dynamic behaviour during complex manoeuvres even flatter and more stable, so that less expert drivers can enjoy its potential to the fullest, resulting in an astonishingly engaging driving experience.
The 488 GTB makes its debut in a new Rosso Corsa Met livery with black and red technical fabric cabin trim, and in a Grigio Ferro Met livery with black and beige tradizione leather interior trim.
On the subject of extreme performance, also on the stand this year is the F12berlinetta which is the most powerful car in the Ferrari range, courtesy of its 740 cv V12 engine and transaxle architecture. It continues to enjoy such enormous success worldwide that in certain countries the waiting list is over a year long.
Two versions of the F12berlinetta are on show in Geneva: the first sports the now-traditional triple-layer Rosso Maranello livery with a leather interior and carbon-fibre trim while the second is a tailor-made homage to the Ecurie Francor champs team, specifically the 250 GTO that won the 1964 Tour de France. It is in the same Argento Auteil colour as the latter with a triple-layer yellow racing cross-stripe on its bonnet.
Speaking of tailor-made, Ferrari’s exclusive personalisation programme now boasts over 450 new materials homologated automotive use for the first time.
Alongside the sports cars are other GTs: the California T coupé-cabriolet in an elegant two-tone Nero Stellato and Grigio Brunito livery complemented by a Tortora cabin is joined by the four-seater, four-wheel-drive FF in modern Bianco Italia with a Sterling interior. Both models feature CarPlay, the simplest, safest and most entertaining way to use your iPhone in the car.
CarPlay is incredibly intuitive and offers phone, map, music and message access by either voice control or a tap of the central display. The system is enjoying particular popularity on the FF with half of all owners ordering it.
Also on the stand is the Formula One single-seater which pays fitting testimony to Ferrari’s inextricable links to motorsport on the eve of the new season – the first Grand Prix will take place in Australia this coming weekend.