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2016 Ferrari 488GTB Preview

The Car Connection Expert Review

The 2016 Ferrari 488 GTB and 488 Spider go turbo, and they wear their technically sophistication and racing pedigree a little more overtly this time, although there’s still plenty of sensual beauty to behold in sight and sound.

The 2016 Ferrari 488 GTB is the latest in a long line of mid-engine, V-8-powered two-seat sports cars from the Italian automaker.

As such, the 488 GTB steps into a role that’s a clear evolution from the 458—although definitely a bit more overtly racing-influenced in styling and design on the outside, while offering more accessible performance without as much of a compromise in comfort as its predecessor.

The 2016 488 GTB simply looks more technical and modern on the outside; yet that doesn’t mean its forgone sex appeal. The most significant design difference in the 488, once you take in the design from all angles, is almost certainly the new sense of depth in the flanks; whereas the 458 had comparatively flat sides and a jaw-dropping profile from a few car lengths away, the 488 family keeps the organic voluptuous look of old, yet has sheet metal carved out in a way that gives the design far more presence when you’re right up next to it.

And while the 488 GTB and 488 Spider cut in with a look that’s traditionally Ferrari, the design in back has plenty of nods to F1 racing, including flaps that actively change the purpose of the rear diffuser depending on whether more downforces are needed, and a subtle rear spoiler that helps cut drag at lower speeds while pushing downward at higher ones.

The 2016 Ferrari 488 models pack a completely new 3.9-liter turbocharged V-8, making 660 horsepower at 8,000 rpm and 560 pound-feet of torque at 3,000 rpm. That’s 63 more hp and 162 more lb-ft—with peak torque at half the revs than before. It’s as before mated to Ferrari’s 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

It’s the most powerful spider engine ever for Ferrari, and it has the highest torque in its segment, Ferrari says. The GTB can get to 60 mph in less than three seconds or to 124 mph in 8.3 seconds—also best-in-segment times. And if you care about mileage, the EPA rates it at 15 mpg city, 22 highway, 18 combined.

Ferrari says that it spent tremendous engineering effort in making the new engine one with near-instantaneous responsiveness. The automaker says that at 1,000 rpm, in third gear, you only have to wait for 0.8 seconds for maximum torque delivery.

All the right sounds are there, too. Despite having a turbocharged engine, the 488 sings louder and with more urgency as revs rise and power output builds. It’s lacking a few revs at the top end, with a power peak of 8,000 rpm versus the previous 9,000 rpm, yet there’s no personality and charm missing from this experience. Spider models have a different exhaust system, and produce about 1 dB more across the rev range; yet with careful engineering and aerodynamics Ferrari says that you can carry on a conversation at a comfortable level in the cabin, with the top down, well above typical American highway speeds.

The interior of the 488 GTB is quite different than that found in the 458. Classic Ferrari elements remain, such as the separation between the dashboard and tunnel, the multi-function steering wheel, the control switch bridge and plush bucket seats, with most of the controls either part of the steering wheel (yes, push-button turn signals) or on control pods within a short reach away, provided your hands are at their proper place on the steering wheel. The shape of the air vents is new, as are upgraded trims throughout, to give this interior a thoroughly more modern and better-detailed look than that of the 458.

The 488 lineup offers more accessible handling near the limits, too. There’s an enhanced version of the side slip angle control system that originally made its debut on the 458 Speciale. Now called Side Slip Control 2, or SSC2 for short, it works with the electronic differential, and stability control system to help the driver slip quicker out of corners. The system works together with the active dampers. It can all be changed in well-coordinated fashion via a small "manettino" thumb lever on the steering wheel, which provides five different drive modes.

Ferrari 488 Spider versions, which will join the lineup sometime in calendar year 2016, likely still as a 2016 model, offer a two-piece retractable hardtop. The Spider includes a glass rear window, and the top can be raised or lowered in less than 15 seconds. It also includes a different design treatment altogether behind the rear window—adding up to an abbreviated roofline plus an extended engine cover (with more prominent engine-compartment vents) instead of the long rear window.

The infotainment system that’s included in the 488 GTB and 488 Spider has Apple CarPlay capability, as well as some sport-driving functionality, and an optional, full-fledged racing telemetry system (a version of the one developed for LaFerrari). Another option is a high-end audio system with 12 speakers and a 1,280-watt amp. The 488 also now includes a full keyless ignition (no longer requiring the turn of a key first), and between various trims, wheel and brake upgrades, and accessories, all part of a personalization program, there are plenty of ways to add exclusivity (and up the price tag).

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