The main event in any Ferrari is the engine and this one’s is 2017’s ‘International Engine of the Year’. The ‘F154 CB’ 3.9-litre V8 has a flat-plane crankshaft, a 90-degree bank angle and an oversquare cylinder design for strong responses and explosive torque delivery. Being a turbocharged unit, you would expect some amount of lag, but the pair of IHI twin-scroll units, with their low-density titanium-aluminium alloy, spools so quickly that lag is barely there.
Hit the throttle in any gear and the 488 explodes forward; the delay between command and execution is minimal. It really doesn’t matter what speed the engine is doing, all you need to do is flex your right foot and it feels like you are hit by a roadroller in the back. Keep your foot down and, because the torque management system keeps feeding more torque in an increasing manner, you run into the 8,000rpm limit before you know it. The engine also pulls harder and harder in every gear with no let-up.
Ferrari claims a flat 3sec 0-100kph time, but when we tested the car here on our fuel and on standard tyres, we managed a slightly slower 3.66sec. Still, launch control engaged, the Ferrari explodes out of the blocks like an artillery shell, and because the engine is being force-fed more air and fuel, this feeling of acceleration stays unabated even as you run all the way past 200kph that comes up in 10.53sec. What a rush!
It’s little wonder when you see the spec sheet. Max power stands at 670hp and max torque is a prodigious 760Nm at 3,000rpm; that amount of torque is not only more than what the 458 Speciale can muster but also more than what the 12-cylinder 812 puts out. So you can imagine the effect it has on a mere 1,500kg car. Hitting max revs in third on a road with an exciting set of corners is just so thrilling, with the 488 shooting through the last 2,000rpm in a flash, you’d want to do it again and again.
Then there’s the Getrag seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox that delivers track-style shifts, taking just 6sec to wind all the way through to the first four gears. And all this is accompanied by a genuinely pleasing blare from the exhaust system. Sure, it’s not as spine-tingling as that of a naturally aspirated engine singing its heart out at 9,000rpm, but it has a wonderful snarl combined with a nice blare and that sounds great. And that’s saying a lot; this engine, after all, is muffled by turbos and other insulators that rob it of its natural sound.
Despite all this performance, the 488 also proved to be easy to drive in traffic at low speed, with the twin-clutch gearbox allowing for smooth progress and a steady build up of power. It’s no exaggeration to say it is both ferocious and docile at the same time, and that’s exactly what you want.