Ferrari logo

Ferrari 488: a Family of Seven

14 gennaio 2019

Chris Rees

The new 488 Pista Spider brings to seven the number of models in the 488 range. We celebrate the full family

Was it only in 2015 that the world greeted one of the most significant and best-loved Ferraris of all time? February 18th 2015, to be precise: the date when Ferrari unveiled its new 488 GTB on the Maranello assembly lines to a select group of clients, shortly before its Geneva Motor Show public debut. In the four years since, no fewer than seven distinct models have joined the 488 range.

The Ferrari 488 GTB opened a new chapter in the history of Ferrari 8-cylinder cars. It was a revolutionary model and, very much in line with Ferrari tradition, would prove equally successful on both road and track. The 488 brilliantly picked up the baton from its forebear, the 458.

Designed to handle effortlessly at the limit, its engine’s instantaneous throttle response produced a superlatively balanced, intuitive experience behind the wheel, even for less-expert drivers. The 488 name refers to the cubic capacity of one of its of its total of eight cylinders. And the revolution started with this engine: a V8 turbo that offered 40 per cent more torque and, at 670hp, some 150 more horsepower than the previous 458.

With a soundtrack on a par with naturally-aspirated Ferrari 8-cylinders, it made history by taking the Engine of the Year title on three consecutive occasions (2016, 2017 and 2018), before being named Best of the Best of the last 20 years in the 2018 International Engine of the Year Awards.

Three further iterations of the 488 followed in 2015. The open-roof 488 Spider was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, whilst the Finali Mondiali at Mugello saw the presentation of the first two track versions, the 488 GTE and the 488 GT3, marking the V8 turbo’s first return to competition since the F40.

The 488 GTE could not have had a better maiden season in the FIA World Endurance Championship, taking the Manufacturers’ title in 2016, a feat it went on to repeat in 2017, with the added bonus of Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado taking the Drivers’ title. The 488 GT3’s first official outing was equally extraordinary: it won the legendary 12 Hours of Sebring.

It triumphed in the GTD class of the IMSA Championship in the US on two occasions. In 2017, it won the Bathurst 12 Hour, The Gulf 12 Hours, the Asian Le Mans Series and various Blancpain Championship races, including the overall title in the Pro-Am class. The 488 GT3 also saw Ferrari return to the top step of the podium in a race held at the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife in the VLN Championship.

In the three years since its launch, it has been selected by 41 teams and over 200 drivers, racking up a total of 200 victories. The 2016 Ferrari Finali Mondiali at Daytona brought the unveiling of the 488 Challenge, designed specifically for Ferrari’s single-make championships. Its race debut was on April 7th 2017 at the APAC Ferrari Challenge in Abu Dhabi. Currently, around a hundred 488 Challenges race in the championship’s three series (Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific).

The 488 Pista was the first Special Series 488 to premiere, at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. With a massive 720hp, the car marked the greatest technological transfer from the track of any road-legal car. Aside from leading-edge Formula 1 derived aerodynamic solutions, it brings to road cars all the track experience Ferrari has built up with the 488 Challenge and the 488 GTE.

Last − but very far from least − came the 488 Pista Spider at the 2018 Pebble Beach concours event, offering the unparalleled driving pleasure that only a Ferrari drop-top can deliver. All in all, the Ferrari 488s have not just written a glorious family saga but also have the stuff of legend, an increasingly rare quality in today’s car world.