Having invested so much in aluminium monocoque construction since the 360 Modena, Ferrari isn’t going to abandon it in favour of carbonfibre any time soon – regardless of what its rivals may be up to.

So the 488 GTB continues with an aluminium tub made of various alloys and deployed in varying thicknesses. It’s a decision that costs the car little on claimed dry weight versus its all or part-carbonfibre peers.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Tyre life is fine for the way most Ferrari owners drive, but they soon evaporate if used hard on track

The 458 Italia’s dry weight was 1380kg; the 488 GTB’s is 1370kg if you go for all the weight-saving options. A McLaren 650S betters the latter by only 40kg.

Suspension is via front aluminium double wishbones and multiple transverse and longitudinal links at the rear, just as it was on the 458 Italia and Speciale.

The 488 shares its front track width with the latter car and has a wider rear track than both. The steering rack and adaptive dampers make a reappearance after serving on the Speciale, the former working through a ratio of just two full turns between locks.

The 488’s dimensions make it slightly longer and wider than the 458 but identical on overall height and wheelbase.

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Designed in Ferrari’s factory studio (gone are the days of Pininfarina’s involvement), its look is intended to be more sculptural than that of the 458 but with no less purity of line. But to our eyes, the Italia was one of the best-looking mid-engined cars that Ferrari has yet made.

On a less subjective note, Maranello is evidently continuing with its guiding philosophy of ‘aerodynamics by subtraction’ – of removing volumes from the car’s body in order to reduce drag or to create downforce, rather than adding bolted-on addenda, so the 488 looks like a car whose form follows function.

But so it should, because, thanks in no small part to the double-level front splitter, new undertray, blown rear spoiler and enlarged active rear diffuser, it generates 50% more downforce than the 458 did, all 325kg of it at 155mph.

Which brings us to the main event: Ferrari’s ‘F154 CB’ 3.9-litre V8, with its 90deg bank angle, flat-plane crankshaft, oversquare cylinder design and two IHI twin-scroll turbochargers mounted in parallel, one for each cylinder bank.

The engine produces 661bhp from 6200rpm to 8000rpm, with up to 561lb ft from as little as 3000rpm, depending on which gear is selected in the Getrag seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

That amount of torque is considerably more than a 12-cylinder F12 Berlinetta can call upon, of course.

According to Ferrari, the 488 and F12 set identical 1min 23sec lap times around its Fiorano handling track, with the old 458 Italia being another two seconds behind. Which is quite a selling point for the more affordable of the two cars. 

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