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Dublin: 18 °C Monday 1 June, 2020
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Here's what it's like to test-drive the Ferrari 488 Pista supercar - months before its launch

Dave Humphreys was one of a handful of motor journalists to test the new Ferrari out on the roads of Maranello.

Image: LORENZO MARCINNO

LATER THIS YEAR Ferrari will launch its latest supercar, the hardcore 488 Pista. It is an evolution of the 488 GTB, taking every aspect of performance and turning it up even further.

Ferrari has become good at doing this. Past examples of this approach include the 360 Challenge Stradale, 430 Scuderia and 458 Speciale.

Our exclusive first drive in a camouflaged prototype comes in the final stages of development before the car is signed off ahead of its launch later this year. The tight and snaking Fiorano circuit is just a stone’s throw from the Ferrari factory in Maranello. It’s not only where the company develops its supercars but also where some of the greatest Formula One drivers have tested for the team.

Source: Ferrari

Few places are more wrapped in the mystique of Ferrari than here. The small garage building is instantly recognisable to Ferrari fans. It is from here that drivers like Prost, Schumacher, Alonso and Vettel all first sampled a Ferrari Formula One car. It’s almost surreal then for this guy from Dublin to be standing there about to sit into the very latest Ferrari, months ahead of the rest of the world’s automotive press.

Source: LORENZO MARCINNO

Its mid-engined 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8 is significantly updated from the standard 488 GTB. Power output climbs from 670 to 720hp, while torque also increases to 770Nm. The car’s overall weight is also down by 90kg.

Advanced launch control helps the Pista crack 100km/h in just 2.85 seconds. That’s less than the time it took you to read that last sentence. The 200km/h barrier is broken in 7.6 seconds and providing you can find somewhere to do it legally, top speed is 340km/h.

Source: LORENZO MARCINNO

Even with the thin disguise, it’s easy to see just how visually different the 488 Pista is. Its low and aggressive nose houses what Ferrari calls the S-duct. This setup channels airflow into the front and through a cut-out bonnet section, in an S-shape, before flowing over the rest of the car.

Air for the engine is now sucked in via two intakes positioned at the rear where the more angled spoiler is fixed. It’s a hugely impressive and complex aerodynamic arrangement resulting from extensive time in the wind tunnel and use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD).

Source: LORENZO MARCINNO

Our first taste of the 488 Pista in these pre-production prototypes demonstrate a car that is 90-95 per cent completed, we’re told by Raffaele De Simone, Ferrari’s Chief Test Driver.

Pulling out onto the track reveals immediately the potency of the 488 Pista. The twin-turbocharged V8 is eager to rev, and once the tyres get up to a suitably grippy temperature, it’s possible to see what the car is truly capable of delivering. Choosing the softer setting for the adaptive dampers helps to make the suspension that bit more compliant and a touch more forgiving in helping to lay down that 720hp.

Source: Lorenzo Marcinno

Switching the manettino into its sportiest setting sharpens the throttle response and allows the rear to move around more freely without the traction control intervening. The ferocity in which the revs climb (along with speed) makes it hard to think of it as a turbocharged engine. There’s no perceptible lag; it pulls harder and harder all the way up to the 8,000rpm redline. The soundtrack is as intoxicating as the performance.

Source: LORENZO MARCINNO

Pulling upshifts via the large carbon paddles behind the wheel delivers the next gear with purpose and faster than you can imagine. Acceleration is nothing short of brutal, and even the digital speedometer seems to struggle to keep up. Similarly, under braking, the Ferrari sheds speed at a rate that will make you appreciate the multi-point harness holding you into your seat.

It is the ease with which the car gives you the confidence to exploit this performance that makes the Pista so appealing.

Source: Ferrari

Taking the car out onto the local roads reveals a side that is as docile as you like. It will happily trundle along in traffic with zero fuss. Left in full auto mode, the gearbox quickly fires up through to the higher gears where fuel consumption is minimised and noise levels reduced. Steering remains light, and you barely need to cross your arms on even tight hairpin bends. The ride quality is far better than you might expect, with those adaptive dampers proving their worth on some of the severely potholed surfaces we experienced.

Source: LORENZO MARCINNO

The way in which Ferrari has made the phenomenal levels of outright performance accessible in such a usable package marks this out as one of the finest supercars of the modern era. For a car that is estimated to have a starting price close to €400,000, the 488 Pista seems almost good value for money.

READ: Nab yourself a 181 bargain with our savvy shopping guide >

READ: Review: Volkswagen’s new Polo is a worthy rival for the mighty Golf >

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About the author:

Dave Humphreys

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