During a chat with the head of Ferrari Middle East, Giulio Zauner, the other day he was reasonably dismissive of claims that a switch from naturally aspirated engines to turbos had resulted in the demise of the legendary engine note that had become synonymous with Maranello and therefore lessened the appeal of his beloved cars.
The naturally aspirated V8s produce a sort of primeval scream that stirs the passion deep within your soul, something the new turbo power plan cannot produce.
However, Zauner’s point was that the allure of the new Ferrari 488 GTB was more the way it looks and the emotion it delivers than the noise it makes.
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And to be fair, he’s not far wrong, because this is a stunningly beautiful car and although it does not sound quite as raucous as the 458, the car it replaces, it has a distinctive engine note which in its own way is just as sonorous.
The GTB (Gran Turismo Berlinetta) is not only a work of art to look at but it is an engineering masterpiece, a turbo engine without a trace of lag and one that comes fully loaded with the DNA of Ferrari’s Formula One and GT racing heritage.
Expertise gleaned from Ferrari’s XX programme, which makes track-only performance cars for wealthy drivers, has also found its way into the 488.
Combined with the sophisticated aerodynamics and dynamic controls it delivers race-like responsiveness, even better than the 458, something you would have thought virtually impossible having driven that car.
And that is the point. No matter how good the last Ferrari was the mission is always to produce something better, even if it means building turbo engines to satisfy the emissions police.
The 488’s turbo is actually the Prancing Horse’s highest performing power plant ever.
It is a 3.9-litre V8 turbo and delivers 660bhp and torque of 760nm putting the power down to the rear wheels via a seven-speed automatic gearbox which delivers lightning quick changes.
The paddle-shifts just make what is already a sensational experience in full auto even more enjoyable.
Bearing in mind that this a light car, weighing in at 1,475kg, that sort of power is monstrous and you might think a machine this potent might be a bit of a handful but you would be wrong.
I drove the 488 on the track at Dubai Autodrome where it was an absolute dream to drive.
I am no racing driver but I pushed this car to the limit of my capability which is half-decent and it stuck to the track as if it was on rails and the agility was simply awesome.
It is perfectly balanced and blasting through the gears down the pit straight with that turbo delivering a fine soundtrack goes down as one of life’s great pleasures.
You really would have to drive like a complete maniac before this Italian stallion would spit you off the track. There is absolutely no question that this car sets a new benchmark in terms of power output, torque and response times from a turbo.
The aerodynamics obviously play a huge part in the car’s handling and engineers at Maranello have managed to deliver 50 per cent more downforce than on the previous model along with lower drag.
They have achieved this thanks to the Aero Pillar and an F1-style double front spoiler, the side air intakes and, at the back, active aerodynamics coupled with a revolutionary, Ferrari-patented blown spoiler design.
Inside, the car is typical Ferrari, all carbon fibre and heavy-stitched leathers and the instrument cluster, as always, is dominated by the rev counter. The leather and carbon flat-bottomed steering wheel has the Manettino dial to select drive modes – Sport works best on the road while Track is best left to circuit driving.
The car also has a new colour, Rosso Corsa Metallizzato, which was developed to underscore this model’s sporty personality, exclusivity and elegance.
At the end of the day all Ferrari’s are brilliant and this car is no different. It is a sensational piece of kit which is tremendous fun to drive, makes you feel pretty special, and is set to write a new chapter in the history of this iconic brand.
It is amazing that a car this beautiful has caused some grumpiness among the Ferrari aficionados over the fact that it doesn’t sound like a traditional Ferrari.
They are, of course, correct but the fact remains that Ferrari had no choice but to turn to turbos and they have done a magnificent job.
This car still sounds glorious and is a real game changer for the Prancing Horse. If you can afford it, buy it.