Ferrari 488 GTB So Bloody Gorgeous, So Fast, So Ridiculously Desirable

Cynics will tell you this is what TMR does every day - "lucky sods, blah de blah" - and, "In any case," they'll say, "what’s the point of a car like the 488 on Australia’s clogged, speed-camera infested roads?"
The answers are no, no we don’t - every drive of a Ferrari is rare and special - and secondly, Ferrari says year-to-date sales in its market segment (we think you can work out what that means) are up by 35 percent in Australia and 28 percent in New Zealand.
So, despite our sub-standard road network and ever-present camera plague, the allure of this sort of car continues to grow. Obviously.
To date, sales of the masterpieces from Maranello are line-ball here with 2015…which is to say the folk in the historic – but now updated – factory are working to capacity to keep-up with demand in every country.
So Bloody Gorgeous
And here’s a few fast facts: on average Australian Ferrari buyers spend an extra $65,000 per car on ‘customization’ (via the Ferrari ‘Tailor-Made’ program); the average age of buyers is down from 52 a few years ago to 46; Australia leads the Western world in the percentage of female Ferrari owners (12 percent); and, instead of annual volume targets, the KPI for a Ferrari dealer is measured in terms of customer interaction.
And a key component of that customer engagement is the ‘Ferrari Concierge’ which, with just one telephone call or email, can arrange everything for you from a Ferrari F1 team shirt to a helicopter round-trip to a winery. Or perhaps a dinner at a ‘Celebrity Chef’s’ un-bookable restaurant, a race circuit drive day, or, of course, the Ferrari suite in the Paddock Club at an F1 Grand Prix.
Each year the Ferrari Concierge arranges for around 250 Australian owners and their partners to visit Maranello (where factory tours are exclusive to owners).
While there will always be a waiting list for cars with the ‘Prancing Horse’ badge, Ferrari Australasia chief Herbert Appleroth and his team have ways of making things bearable.
Vehicle Style: Sports Coupe
Price: $469,988 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 492kW/760Nm 3.9 litre twin-turbocharged petrol V8 | 7sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 11.4 l/100km


Sadly, as Ferrari’s biggest-selling model, the 488 will always have the longest waiting list – the rear-engined sports car is, after all, the soul of the company.
The replacement for the hallowed 458, the 488 had big shoes to fill. The swag of prestigious awards in the trophy cabinet confirms it has succeeded.
As always with new Ferraris, the 488 has a mix of things borrowed and things new. So on the one hand we have the headline trumpeting the "first-for-a-road-car active aerodynamics" - a unique rear ‘blow spoiler’ which bleeds air over the rear bumper and working in concert with active veins in the diffuser.
And, borrowed, we have brakes from the La Ferrari and the steering rack, shock absorbers and a fair chunk of the chassis from the 458 Speciale (but as anyone who has driven the 458 Speciale will confirm, that’s not a bad thing).
Power comes from a high-output version of the twin-turbocharged flat-plane-crankshaft 3.9-litre V8 used in the California T (with larger twin-scroll IHI turbochargers, a longer stroke, different pistons, different intake and exhaust manifolds among a host of up-rated components to support its higher – 8,000rpm – rev limit). Turbocharger boost pressure is almost twice that of the California T.
Just looking at that powerplant aft the cockpit can keep you curious for hours. Our test car was fitted with the optional carbon-fibre engine compartment ($13,242) and carbon-fibre rear air ducts ($6,800).


  • Engine: Twin turbocharged 3.9-litre V8 with 492kW @ 8000rpm and 760Nm @ 3000rpm in 7th gear
  • Transmission: Seven-speed sequential automatic with paddle-shifters for manual changes
  • Suspension: Double wishbone (front)/multi-link rear
  • Brakes: Four-wheel carbon-ceramic disc brakes
We were invited to see the open-top version of the Ferrari 488 for the first time on Australian soil – it’s astonishingly beautiful - but when it came time to hit the road, your TMR correspondent (a dedicated ‘Ferraristi’) headed straight for the hardtop GTB.
Sure there is the magnificence of the California and F12 Berlinetta and even the four-seat convenience of the GTC4 Lusso.
But the 488 – especially in ‘Rossa Corsa Metallizzato (a metallic version of Ferrari’s traditional ‘Maranello Red’) with tan-coloured leather inside – is the pulse of Ferrari, capturing a magic dating back to that bleak winter’s day in 1947 when Enzo used the streets of Maranello to test-drive the first car to carry his family name.
So you punch the engine start button on the steering wheel and the twin-turbo 3.9-litre V8 explodes into life and settles to a rather loud and fast idle (which in our case had people running from Melbourne’s Blackman hotel to see what all the noise was about). Some, fools really, have criticised the noise of the 488 – they’re still wearing string-back leather driving gloves and think all Ferraris are bellowing atmo V12s.
Then you hit the ‘R’ for reverse gear button and try to back this +$618,000 (with extras, taxes and on-road charges) supercar into the street with something approaching smoothness and subtlety. Not impossible, but difficult on both counts.
And for the first couple of kilometers in city traffic you’re aware of two things: the large V8, massive turbochargers, ducting and seven-speed gearbox sitting behind your head. The second things is is that fear-driven impression that seemingly every rusty old Falcon and Magna in Victoria is trying to carve you up and leave a calling card on your gleaming red paintwork.
Fast-forward to The Great Ocean Road – and forget the interminable time spent behind ambling caravans – and we were able to briefly let-fly with this supercar of supercars.

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