Car review: Ferrari 488

A bygone era is revisited with this enigmatic car.

Damien Reid May 1, 2017

Think of the quintessential Ferrari and it has to be the mid-engined V8s going right back to the car that defined Ferrari in the 1980’s: the Magnum PI 308. 

Harking back to the great 308, the 488 has revitalised the GTB badge for the hardtop as the ‘B’ stands for Berlinetta, but it also has the drop-top which was only dubbed ‘Spider’ from the 308 onwards.

The 488 is an enigma in that it rekindles a bygone era with the 488GTB badge, yet echoes in the future by introducing turbo- chargers to reduce emissions.

For those familiar with V8 Ferraris, a quick re-programming of the brain is needed as the days of buzzing 9,000rpm redlines are gone now that its 760Nm of torque is developed from just 3,000rpm.

However, there’s more power here than the fabled V12 Enzo which itself was superior to the F50 which used a V12 engine pretty much taken straight from Alain Prost’s 1990 Formula One car.

While it may look like a mild refresh on the outside over the 458, there’s a lot more underneath that completes the picture. The steering feels almost go-kart light due to the steering rack and dampers being taken from the limited build 458 Speciale and it also gets a new generation of that model’s innovative Side Slip Control while the brakes are borrowed directly from the uber-exotic LaFerrari.

The 488 GTB is the manufacturer’s first series production car to get active aerodynamics and there’s also a revised version of Ferrari’s spectacular seven-speed dual clutch gearbox as standard.

The back was a bit skittish and initially I didn’t have the nerve to push on, but once accustomed to the way it handled these bumps, it was a case of biting the bottom lip and going for it, only to be surprised – and relieved – at the other end when it not only did everything I asked of it, but almost before I had asked it. 

When it comes to the Spider there’s not much difference despite the lack of roof. It shares the GTB’s spring rates, which are claimed by Ferrari to be equal to those of the outgoing 458 Speciale so the point and change of direction is identical. 

All up, the Spider is 50kg heavier than the GTB, which is the same deficit 458 Spider owners had over the hardtop 458 Italia. The 488 may not return the same spine tingles you get from a 9,000rpm change up on the 458, but it’s diabolically quick and that sensation usually hits only after you stop to think about it at the end of the run.


  • Engine: 3.9-litre, twin-turbo V8
  • Power: 670bhp @ 8,000rpm
  • Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
  • Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch
  • 0-100kmh: 3.0 seconds
  • Top speed: 328kmh
  • Price: AED 999,000