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710hp race-honed Ferrari 488 GTO gets an early reveal

24th Jan 2018 2:00 pm

Harder version of 488 GTB is under development with an anticipated 710hp, making it a natural rival to Stuttgart's Porsche 911 GT2 RS

The so-called Ferrari 488 GTO is due to be revealed this year as the brand's most hardcore, track-focused model – and its full front styling has been leaked onto social media.

The car's name is also yet to be revealed, although it's unlikely to be a moniker ever used by the brand in the past. The car is a hotter version of the 488 which will go toe-to-toe with the Porsche 911 GT2 RS. It will essentially be a replacement to the discontinued 458 Speciale. The Speciale is a car widely regarded as the best driver-focused Ferrari, until date. It has been spotted testing outside Ferrari's Maranello base, on numerous occasions.

Leaked specifications from earlier in the month also appear to show it'll use a 710hp engine derived from motorsport. Ferrari is tight-lipped about the model and wouldn't give any comment on its existence, but given the timing of the leak - suspected to be from a dealer event - a reveal at the Geneva motor show is a fair expectation.

Images posted onto Ferrari Photo Page appear to show internal slides of the car, where there's mention of an engine that is based on that used in the 488 Challenge racer – making it the marque's most powerful production V8 yet produced. It is about 10 percent lighter than the 488 GTB's engine.

It's most likely the 488's mid-mounted twin-turbocharged 3.9-litre V8 engine will be boosted with increased turbo pressure and internal modifications to produce its anticipated 710hp, with torque also substantially increasing on the standard car’s 761Nm.

The changes to these spotted development cars are largely hidden but the leaked slides suggest the new 488 will feature an extensive list of carbon-fibre parts for the body and interior. The bonnet, bumpers and rear spoiler will be made from the material – as will large sections of the cabin, including the dashboard.

The standard 488 produces 325kg of downforce at 249.5kph but the 911 GT2 RS produces up to 340kg. Ferrari's aerodynamicists – who have access to the brand's Formula 1 wind tunnel – will be keen to rival that figure. Expect large intakes for the more potent powertrain, a bigger front lip and more prominent rear diffuser. The slides which were leaked suggest a 20 percent improvement in overall aerodynamic efficiency for the new 488.

There's also mention of 20-inch wheels made from carbon-fibre, saving 40 percent in weight, as compared to the standard 488 rims. They'll come wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber.

That's where the information on the slides ends. Ferrari tradition, though, suggests that engineers will also remove non-essential parts from the interior and sound deadening from the car's engine bay; as well as fitting other lightweight parts such as thinner glass for the windscreen and side windows, and lighter ceramic brakes – like with the 458 Speciale.

Additionally, the brand's technical boffins will give the car its own unique settings for the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and Slide Slip Control management, with the latter likely to enable even greater angles of yaw before fully intervening.

Ferrari is rumoured to be reserving the GTO name for the car. In the leaked slides, it's simply referred to as a 'New V8 Sport Special Series'. GTO has only been applied to three Ferraris before – the first two of which – the 250 GTO and 288 GTO – were racing machines. The latest iteration was the 599 GTO – a road-legal version of the track-only 599XX, leading many to claim it wasn't worthy of its racing title.

For this reason, the harder but still road-legal 488 could adopt a new tag that continues the trend set by its spiritual forebears – the 360 Challenge Stradale, 430 Scuderia and 458 Speciale.

Ferrari has refrained from commenting on the model. However, recent sightings of a car in light covers suggest development has moved to an advanced stage. This information ties in with the schedule for a car that our sources expect will go on sale, this year.

As expected, prices for the 488 GTO will increase significantly over the 488 GTB.

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