On behalf of the entire team, I think it’s safe to say that the most exciting machine we’ve tested all year is the Ferrari 488 Pista – a ‘hardcore’ version of the car that you see here! The Pista generates 711bhp to the GTB’s 661.
So, ideally, the car that we should have had for this test is the brand new Pista, but when Ferrari calls you and tells you they’re sending a car over for a mega test I’d like to see you respectfully decline the offer. After all, if you aren’t going to make a concession for a Prancing Horse, then what are you going to make concessions for?
And so it was that the 488 GTB, in bright yellow, showed up at the BIC – or ‘Giallo Modena’ I should say, which is what the colour is officially referred to. Now, there’s always a sense of occasion when you see a Ferrari. And, in this case, between the gleaming Modena yellow paint, the red cam covers that you can see through the transparent engine cover, and just the overall silhouette of the car, it all just screams supercar – not to mention the mid-engine layout.
Frankly, despite some very impressive machines in this test, it was always expected that the Ferrari would be the fastest car here – and, as such, take the ‘Performance Car of the Year’ honours. After all, the 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 in the 488 has won the overall International Engine of the Year award for the past three years running. And that’s to say nothing of this exceptional chassis.
The 488 was the last car we took out on track, so I knew exactly the time to beat – that of the Urus, at 1:08.4. So, clearly, this was going to be another case of Prancing Horse versus Raging Bull. But it was a bit of an unfair fight. You see, this Lamborghini can carry four adults in comfort and even venture off the beaten path, whereas the Ferrari is very much a single minded supercar. So, while the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 of the Urus may produce in excess of 600 horsepower, it weighs about 700 kilos more than the GTB.
But, there was a bit of a twist in the tail. The Ferrari came with a minder whose job it was to ensure that I didn’t get in over my head on the track with this thoroughbred machine. This, after all, isn’t Maranello – where they simply hand you a set of keys and send you on your way. So, the first lap out was slower! As a result of which I had to ask my passenger to brace himself – even close his eyes if need be – and hold on. In the end, it didn’t take much effort if I’m honest. Under the circumstances, it was quite a relaxed lap actually. The time – 1 minute, 8 seconds dead! Four tenths faster, and enough for the crown.
It’s just such an easy car to push to the limit. I remember driving the 458 Italia – its predecessor – a few years ago at the BIC. The steering was quicker and the chassis more on edge. This, meanwhile, allows you to take liberties like few other mid-engined supercars. You can brake SO late, and carry SO much speed through corners that it’s almost laughable.
Laughable. And easy. And oh so very enjoyable. So, purely for its sense of occasion, and for so effortlessly pushing the boundaries, does the 488 GTB wholeheartedly deserve the performance award this year.
No concessions given, this is a car that grabs the trophy purely on merit – and grabs it with eight screaming cylinders.