With the type of fanfare that only the Italians can muster Ferrari Australia has launched its 488 GTB supercar.
As a tribute to Ferrari’s iconic prancing horse logo the venue chosen for the launch was the historic Inglis Newmarket Stables near Randwick racecourse. There was even a real-live horse that, while it didn’t exactly prance, it did kick its front legs up a couple of times.
The 488 GTB is a direct descendant of Ferrari’s first ever mid-mounted V8 the 308 GTB which was launched in 1975. Its immediate predecessor, the 458 Italia, has been on sale her since mid-2010 and, while the styling of the two cars is similar, the 488 GTB is effectively an all-new model, with 85 per cent of all components not used previously.
The GTB stands for Gran Turismo Berlinetta, and while berlinetta means little saloon in Italian, the 488 GTB is clearly a superbly sculpted sports coupe.
The biggest change, and one that is likely to cause some grief to Ferrari purists, is the introduction of a smaller 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 engine in place of the previous 4.5-litre naturally-aspirated unit.
With a power peak of 670 horsepower (492 kW) the new engine is the most powerful V8 ever produced by Ferrari. It’s up 18 per cent over the 570 horsepower (425 kW) produced by the outgoing 458 Italia. Torque is also significantly higher (760 Nm compared with the 540 Nm) than before at 3000 rpm (Italia, 6000 rpm).
Not surprisingly the 488 GTB also surpasses the Italia in the zero to 100 km/h sprint, lopping 0.3 seconds off to a flat three seconds. For those fortunate enough to take it for a spin along the NT section of the Stuart Highway, they’ll be able to reach 200 km/h in 8.3 seconds.
Look at any current Ferrari Formula 1 car and you will see that a huge amount of effort has gone into making it as aerodynamically effective as possible. This experience in Formula 1 racing has enabled the 488 GTB engineers to increase downforce by 50 per cent over the 458 Italia, while reducing drag slightly at the same time.
The front of the 488 GTB incorporates a central aero pillar and a F1-inspired double spoiler that combine to generate downforce. Underneath the car the underbody incorporates vortex generators and curved aerodynamic appendages that help pull it to the road at speed.
The large rear diffuser uses flap geometry that can adjust the balance between increased downforce and drag reduction.
F1 technology also contributed to the improved vehicle dynamics needed to harness the extra power of the 488 GTB. These include a second generation of Ferrari’s Slide Slip Control System (SSC2) for improved acceleration out of corners; a new Brembo Extreme Design braking system that has cut braking distance by nine per cent; improved damping system and ESP / ABS brake systems.
Sadly one person who was heavily involved in the design and testing of the 458 Italia but was absent this time around was Michael Schumacher who Ferrari boss, Luca De Montezemolo, paid tribute to recently when accepting his Automotive Hall of Fame induction in Detroit.
Starting price of the Ferrari 488 GTB is $469,888. While that’s down by around $57,000 from that of the 458 Italia it’s effectively the same because Ferrari Australia added extra equipment rather than cut the price of the Italia when currency fluctuations made it cheaper to import. That extra equipment reverts to being optional with the 488 GTB.
The Ferrari 458 GTB that was unveiled at the launch was, rather disappointingly grey rather than red, and came with left-hand drive. Local stock won’t be available until late this year and we understand that a significant number of orders have already been taken.