Ferrari 488 GTB On Test – Living The Dream

Ferrari 488 GTB On Test – Living The Dream

Roaming the halls at the Frankfurt Motor Show last September, my iPhone beeped – message incoming. A casual glance revealed that the sender was none other than the head of PR for Ferrari. He asked if I would care to join him on their stand for a chat.

Resisting the temptation to run, I hastily made my way over to the colourful stand and bypassing the queues was soon in conversation. A tour of their stand was one of my show highlights, but of more interest was the offer of a test car for a few days.

Dates were finalised and a 488 GTB was to be mine, though I did have some qualms about the timing. A 661bhp supercar in Yorkshire in December…. It promised to be an exciting ride.

In order to make the most of my time with the car, I journeyed south to Slough the previous day. I am not sure many Ferrari drivers have started their day in a Travelodge, but my budget accommodation would mean more money for petrol and a decent breakfast.

At Ferrari HQ there was a mountain of paperwork to sign. I was so excited about the prospect of getting behind the wheel, that I read nothing. I recall mention of the large insurance excess, which I must confess focussed the mind.

I ambled slowly out of Slough, the satellite navigation guiding me towards the M40, my destination North Wales for a spot of lunch with a friend.

Immediately apparent was the driver-focused cabin. All of the controls are either on or surrounding the steering wheel. Most intriguing is the ‘Manettino’ switch which controls how much electronic traction assistance you will receive. ‘Sport’ is the default setting and I dallied with ‘Race’ mode on occasions. The top settings remove all assistance and are best left to a warm race track and a driver experienced in such matters.

Long, slender gearshift paddles are within easy reach for those who wish to take control of the seven-speed twin clutch gearbox. With so much power on tap, I was mostly content to leave the box to its own devices.

My test car had been specified with optional carbon fibre racing seats. Although boasting plenty of lateral grip, they proved to be somewhat hard on the posterior after a few hours behind the wheel.

So what of the beating heart of the 488? The turbocharged 3.9-litre V8 engine endows the Ferrari with breathtaking performance. The official 0-62mph time of 3 seconds dead merely hints at the performance available. How about 0-124mph in 8.3 seconds instead? Without a private race track at my disposal and with a love of my clean driving licence, I suspect I used a mere fraction of the available power.

No matter, as once away from the crowded motorway the 488 shone as a cross-county companion. Dawdling traffic was dispatched with the merest twitch of the right foot and after a while you begin to wonder why everyone else is driving so slowly.

Adjustable dampers can be set to offer a comfortable ride or can be firmed up when you up the pace. And you will want to, if only to hear the rasping exhaust and sonorous V8 engine at full chat. Music to the car enthusiast’s ears and I never tired of the sounds.

After a light lunch in Llangollen, another long stint lay ahead to get home. Despite the poor weather and crowded late afternoon motorways, I enjoyed every mile. You do have to get used to everybody staring at the car and pulling alongside for a closer look. Imagine their disappointment at seeing me behind the wheel. I’d like to think that the striking ‘Rosso Dino’ coloured Ferrari brightened the afternoon for the travel-weary commuters.

A quick fuel stop close to home revealed that I had been averaging around mid 20s mpg, a fair result for this type of car. This was to dip during the next few days of local running, which mainly consisted of taking friends and neighbours out for a drive.

I avoided some of my favourite test routes, the narrow lanes not being the 488’s natural habitat. The super quick steering and powerful brakes were put to good effect however dodging wayward beasts and erratically driven farm traffic.

All too soon my time with the Ferrari was over and I faced the 250 mile return trip to Slough and on a Friday as well.

The traffic was the least of my worries as overnight snow left my part of Yorkshire will a good few inches of the white stuff. The Ferrari would not fit in my garage so had been left uncovered. I’m not sure many owners would have ventured out in the wintery conditions, no doubt having something more suitable in their multicar garage.

I stood with the Ferrari whilst the powerful heater did its stuff and made good use of my 99p Halfords ice scraper…

All that stood between me a freedom was a few miles of snow covered lanes, with not a gritter in sight. I need not have worried. Marettino set to ‘Wet’ mode and winter tyres made light work of the prevailing conditions.

I dodged the snow showers most of the day and accomplished the journey with ease, only pausing to grab a sandwich and answer the call of nature. The good folk at Norton Canes services no doubt enjoyed the visual treat whilst the car was parked up. Camera phones were snapping as I ambled back across the car park…

Not unexpectedly the 488 GTB made a lasting impression. It delivers driving thrills and a sense of occasion that few other cars can match. I barely tapped the car’s potential and no doubt if I was a lucky owner I would buy some track time to fully exploit its performance.

With a little care, the Ferrari is genuinely usable all year round and it’s a shame that most will be locked away at the first sign of winter.

A 488GTB will set you back £184,864 before you delve into the options list. As tested, C8 FNE weighed in at £260,465. 

If your pockets are not that deep, Ferrari offer a 24-month warranty on all Approved cars. A little trawl of the website revealed some wonderfully tempting cars.

How about a 360 Spider for £79,994 or a 599 GTB Fiorano for £119,950? The latter is on sale at my local dealer JCT600 Brooklands in Leeds. I might call in and take a look. Well a man can dream can’t he?

Ferrari 488 GTB Facts

  • List price £184,864 (£260,465 as tested)
  • Exterior – Rosso Dino with Nero Daytona roof
  • Interior – Charcoal Alcantara
  • Carbon Fibre exterior package (£17,280)
  • Engine – 3,902cc V8 turbocharged
  • 661bhp/760Nm of torque
  • 7-speed F1 dual-clutch transmission
  • 0-62mph in 3.0 seconds
  • 0-124mph in 8.3 seconds
  • Top speed 205mph
  • Emissions – 260g/km
  • Economy – 24.8mpg
  • 4 year warranty 
  • 7 years servicing included in purchase price

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