Skid Marks

Ferrari F488 GTB: Bella machina!


Ferraris have always been about passion. They capture the very essence of the beauty and romance in driving.

Indeed, a friend once said that Ferraris are very feminine cars—beautiful, sensual, oftentimes moody and tempestuous, like a hot-blooded Italian supermodel diva. They haven’t always been the easiest cars to live with.

Today, though, much has changed. Ferrari has realized that the best way to advertise its cars, aside from racing them on track, is to actually see them on the road, and banish all thoughts of the Italian’s beauty, yet oft mocked reliability and practicality.

The F488 is a step in that direction.

The F488 loses the angelic falsetto of the F458, replaced by a booming baritone that sounds different, but just as characterful. Perhaps not exactly operatic, but definitely one heck of a performance.

As a bonus, the new F154CB twin-turbocharged, intercooled, and direct-injected V8 has loads of low and mid-range muscle, making it very easy and friendly to use in normal driving conditions.

Twin IHI-Garret twin-scroll ball-bearing turbochargers, equipped with a billet titanium-aluminum alloy CHRA delivers instantaneous, seamless and progressive, linear power delivery: Each time I floor the throttle, I half-expect a powerful sudden surge in power at around 4,000 rpm, but the Ferrari just zips through the rev range in the most linearly fashion imaginable.

This linear power also helps improve stability as the sudden power surge can upset the F488’s traction, especially on less than perfect surfaces, and does its best to mimic a normally aspirated V8 engine’s progressive power delivery.

Fuel consumption was a decent 4.2 km/liter in the city, and 8.9 km/liter in the highway, in case you’re interested to know.

It’s not as good as I was expecting, but if you upshift at 4,000 rpm and beyond every single time just to hear that beautiful booming induction and exhaust note, the price is worth it.

All in, the F488 delivers a monumental 670 hp and 710 Newton meters of torque while meeting the latest Euro VII emissions regulations.

The Getrag-supplied 7-speed dual-clutch transmission is splendid: fast shifting, responsive, and quite idiot-proof.

I was flapping on the wrong paddle to upshift near redline in second gear, but the brains of the transmission refused to downshift lest I be left with a very expensive engine and transmission replacement bill.

In automatic mode, which I only used twice, the DCT behaves much like a regular, torque-converter-equipped automatic transmission, making trundling about in traffic hassle-free. It shifts faster than when it saw duty in the F458, too.

The CCM carbon-ceramic brakes with 6-piston front and 4-piston rear monoblock aluminum calipers supplied by Brembo do require some getting used to: very powerful, but at times grabby and over-assisted, and need to be warmed up properly before they get progressive and easy to modulate.

The brakes are massive too, measuring at just under 400 mm front and 360 mm rear, and filling out the large 20-inch wheels (9 inches in front, 11 inches out back) with almost no gap left between the sculpted calipers and the inner rim of the wheels.

Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, generously sized at 245/35R20 front and 305/30R20 rear, provide ample traction

Ride comfort is good. Just leave it in the default “bumpy road” setting, and it well enough soaks up most of the bumps in Metro Manila roads.

It’s still a stretch to use the Ferrari F488 GTB on bumpy provincial roads.

Going up Tagaytay, I passed through Silang and thought I’d scrape the belly. But the built-in lift system raises the fronts by 20 mm, just enough for the nose to clear the bumps.

It is the rear diffuser, with its exposed fins, that merit concern as the angle of departure is very poor.

Inside, the interior, dash architecture, and center console are surprisingly very sparse, minimalist, but high-tech.

The analog rev counter is flanked by two LCD displays: the left shows vehicle information, while the right shows multi-media/infotainment settings.

Apple Carplay is standard, and the JBL Professional surround sound system plays very good, clear and powerful music on command.

The manettino “little switch” dial where the drive mode selector (wet, sport, race, CST off, esc off), turn signal indicators, horns and high-beam flasher take some time getting used to.

It’s tough to get in and out, no thanks to the low roofline, and the wide door needs lots of space to open fully to let my XXL-sized frame in and out with ease.

On the road, the Ferrari F488 GTB is epic. The car’s engine is truly its heart, delivering staggering levels of power, torque, flexibility, acceleration and response.

Everyone gives you wide berth, and everyone will be rubber-necking as you whizz by.

Steering is heavy but feelsome, accurate and direct, and corners are dispatched with confidence and gusto, while straights are gobbled up in an instant.

The F488’s width is daunting at first, but once acclimatized, it literally wraps itself around you, such that you’re confident to whisk past seemingly narrow gaps, and when overtaking down tight, winding two-lane highways.

The new body delivers a total of 325 kg of downforce, almost 50 percent more than its predecessor.

The suspension does leave room for a bit of slip and slide even in sport setting, but trust in the car and the electronics—which now allow both the differential and the suspension to communicate to give you some sphincter tightening moments—gives it room to play, and makes for a truly staggering, life-affirming, unforgettable drive.

You just need to warm up the massive Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, and get some heat into them, else the F488 feels skittish with cold tires.

It feels hyperactive at times, making it more engaging and involving to drive compared to its German competitors from Zuffenhausen (Porsche 911), Stuttgart (Mercedes-AMG), and Ingolstadt (Audi R8 V10+).

Even its German-Italian nemesis from Santa Agata Bolognese (Lamborghini) feels Germanic compared to Maranello’s finest. Just make sure you have the libido to keep up, or the Prancing Pony will leave you bone dry.

The F488 is rapid, intoxicating and breath-taking, truly the best mid-engined V8 yet from the fabled Italian marque. And, yes, it’s (barely) practical and easy enough to use as a daily driver, if you want to always arrive in style.

The F488 remains true to Ferrari’s virtues, yet loses some of its prima donna qualities (peaky engine, recalcitrant manual gate transmission, questionable reliability, as wekk as poor emissions, fuel consumption and ergonomics) to make it more useable and easier to live with in today’s demanding world.

Looking forward to the F488 Pista!

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