Ferrari proves once again why it's the gold standard
When a car is as good as the Ferrari 458 Italia that won Best Driver’s Car in 2011, you don’t need to change much. Ferrari did anyway, and it produced the even more impressive 488 GTB.
Although much of the front half of the car has been reused, it’s all been tweaked. The new bodywork has been designed with slavish devotion to aerodynamics, and the 488 features both an electronically controlled drag-reduction system in the rear diffuser and a Formula 1–inspired blown diffuser in the rear bodywork. The new 3.9-liter twin-turbo V-8 makes a staggering 661 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque and carefully controls boost levels at lower engine speeds to keep the turbos spooled and the acceleration linear. The second-gen Side Slip Control vehicle dynamics system now controls the adaptive dampers, the traction control, the stability control, and the electronically controlled limited-slip differential. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, your only choice, receives new ratios and shifts quicker. The rear suspension, meanwhile, is wider than ever.
It’s Best Driver’s Car week! Don’t miss the incredible story of how we chose the 2017 Best Driver’s Car right here, and stay tuned for the World’s Greatest Drag Race, coming soon.
With 661 horsepower and only 3,412 pounds (1,548 kg) of carbon fiber to move, the 488 GTB screams to 60 mph in just 2.7 seconds and past the quarter mile in a stunning 10.6 seconds at 135.2 mph (217 km/h). Let it loose on the figure eight, and it’ll post a 22.6-second lap time at 0.99 average g. In steady-state cornering on the skidpad, it’ll pull 1.02 g. Stopping from 60 mph takes just 94 feet.
“Wow. That’s a super car. Ferrari proves here and now why it’s the gold standard. The speed is absolutely incredible. It’s so incredibly powerful and yet so linear. It’s a force of nature, like being picked up by a tornado. There’s zero turbo lag. Even still, it’s easily modulated. The ESC is magic. I see the light blinking, but I have no idea what it’s doing. Completely invisible. I know from the figure eight it’ll snap sideways left to its own, but not in Race mode. The handling is perfect. It flows like whitewater rapids through the corners. The weight transfer is just enough to make you feel like you’re pushing it (you’re not, really), the grip is unending, and yet it’s so light and responsive. The steering is fantastic. You think. It goes. You almost don’t have to think. Instinct happens, and the car responds. My only complaint is the brakes. They’re very strong, but they feel very wooden to me. If you need to scrub a lot of speed, you need to stand on them like you’re trying to break the pedal off.” – Scott Evans
“Holy crap. How can a car this powerful be this easy to drive? It has the most horsepower in this group, and it takes some bravery to floor it for the first time. This thing has limits way beyond what I’m capable of, but that doesn’t make it any less fun at lower limits. This is a car that makes you feel like a superhero. Part of that is in how usable every single one of its 661 horsepower is. True to exotic form, responses are heightened everywhere but not dramatically so. The steering is quick with no dead spot at center—just a consistent flow of alacrity lock to lock. The transmission is even more telepathic than Porsche’s PDK, intuitively anticipating all upshifts and downshifts.
“The drive up 198 was literally a blur. I was going so fast. Only after I rounded the last corner coming down 198 did I realize I had been holding my breath.” – Derek Powell
Read about other 2017 Best Driver’s Car contenders:
- Porsche 911 Turbo S
- Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
- Porsche 718 Cayman S
- Lexus LC 500
- Mercedes-AMG GT R
- Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
- Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
- Aston Martin DB11
- Nissan GT-R NISMO
- Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
- McLaren 570GT
“I got a couple of instances of bump steer, but otherwise it was glued to the ground. The steering is very lively and requires constant attention (this car needs me), if only to keep it pointed where I want to go, but it does go there with obedience and authority. The engine is brilliant … everywhere in the rev range, and the brakes were unflappable and the soundtrack was intoxicating. This is one of those cars, one of those drives, one of those moments that will forever be seared into my synapses as an epic moment—when all that is good in the world was heightened/bristling for the 4.2 miles (7 km) up and then down the hill. A true deus ex machina experience that I will add to four other ones in my life.” – Chris Walton
“This is what every teenager’s fantasy is when they think of Ferrari. Sometimes in the past, Ferraris have been more about image and beauty and grace and style, but the performance has been just OK. The 488 is razor sharp, blisteringly quick, and finely tuned. The engine note is simply animalistic. This fulfills the complete list of needs, from extreme exotic to dauntless touring car. On Highway 198 it immediately became clear there is only one true supercar in this batch. There is immortality in its forgiveness in going at least 10 mph (16 km/h) quicker around corners than its nearest competitors. How you can wad up this car is unknowable. Downhill, the brakes seem like they were a bit softer than I would assume a really fast Ferrari would have, but you get used to them. Besides if you grab a shorter gear, the engine braking is phenomenal.” – Mark Rechtin
“This is one that forces you to keep both hands on the wheel and your foot on the gas (or brake) at all times—no fancy lane following/departure stuff. In that sense, at the most basic level of car control, it demands that your full attention. But that doesn’t mean it’s hard to drive—it’s effortless at very high speeds, completely poised yet responsive. A flat attitude and fingertip control while cornering at speeds 10-15-mph (16-24-km/h) faster than other vehicles is difficult to achieve—as is the same, if not greater confidence heading down 198 as up. Only this 488 and the 911 Turbo S gave me that exhilarating feeling of invincibility (I had no issues with the brakes), and I only give the 488 the nod over the Turbo S because the V-8 twin turbo wail at WOT sounds more lurvly.” – Ed Loh
“Faster than everything else by 10 mph (16 km/h), at least, in every situation. Blazing speed. In love with it? No. Not as satisfying to drive as some of the others, even in Race mode. But in terms of athleticism, a benchmark. As Randy said, it’s more like a Moto GP bike than a car. Also, I did not trust the brakes.
“I understand the intoxication of the 488. It’s an out-and-out supercar that within 3 seconds of behind-the-wheel time, you’re able to confidently take to your limit. Perhaps that’s really what makes a Best Driver’s Car: a machine that not only makes you confident, but one that does so almost instantly.” – Jonny Lieberman
“Whoa, that’s a thrill. Entering a corner, the front is very strong and turns in really hard. And then through the middle of the corner, I think the stability controls are doing things. I found that if I went to an early maintenance throttle, it didn’t like that. It would create quite a bit of understeer, and I’d be pushing enough that I couldn’t go to power. So I realized the best strategy was to stay off the power longer and let it get turned more for a really late apex, so I could straighten up and just shoot down that next straightaway because it gains speed with amazing rapidity.
“Its engine is absolutely a delight. It’s so fantastic. There’s no turbo lag on the track, it just feels like a very powerful engine with a fat torque curve, and it’s not very picky about the shift point because the torque curve is so fat.
“I felt what I think was like traction control or stability control coming in, and it was very smooth. It allowed a lot of slip angle in the tire, and that got to be quite a lot of fun. Especially the last time I went out, when I kind of figured it out. Things were all happening so fast. This was a car where it was not easy to go fast in right away because it took so much getting used to.
“I was not real happy with the brakes. I didn’t get that initial bite, you know, not like the Corvette. You know good old GM? It’s just so good at designing brakes right now. With the Ferrari, I had to push really hard, and after a point pushing harder didn’t cause the brakes to be better, they made them worse. A couple times I started thinking about explaining to these guys how I got in the wall, and I think I was braking early enough. I really was. But there was not a linear relationship between pedal pressure and brake force. And there was not a lot of bite. It took a lot of pedal effort, and it didn’t get a lot better as you pushed harder. So I found myself having to brake what felt early, like real early.
“The car is relatively soft to me. It feels compliant, and if I still had a lot of weight on the nose when I turned, I could feel it roll. It wasn’t terrible but it rolled in there. It would rotate, the rear would move out a little bit, but it was best to let it do that and not go to throttle. Have the entry speed, slow hands, a little bit of brake maybe or at least off-throttle, and be patient and get it pointed way down at the late apex because then when you go it was amazing how it just pinned me back in the seat. It just felt so good, like if you could take the seatbelt right out of the car then it wouldn’t matter while your accelerating because you’re pinned to the seat. It feels really, really good. The engine is an absolute home run—it’s just unbelievable.”
|2016 Ferrari 488 GTB|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Mid-engine, RWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||Twin-turbo 90-deg V-8, alum block/heads|
|VALVETRAIN||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||238.1 cu in/3,902 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||661 hp @ 8,000 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||561 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||5.2 lb/hp|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed twin-clutch auto|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Control arms, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F; R||15.7-in vented, drilled, carbon-ceramic disc; 14.2-in vented, drilled, carbon-ceramic disc, ABS|
|WHEELS, F;R||9.0 x 20-in; 11.0 x 20-in, forged aluminum|
|TIRES, F;R||245/35R20 91Y; 305/30R20 103Y Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 K1 (Tread 180)|
|TRACK, F/R||66.1/64.8 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||179.8 x 76.9 x 47.8 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||38.7 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,412 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST, F/R||41/59%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||n.a./— in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||n.a./— in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||n.a./— in|
|CARGO VOLUME||8.1 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||1.2|
|QUARTER MILE||10.6 sec @ 135.2 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||94 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||1.02 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||22.6 sec @ 0.99 g (avg)|
|2.2-MI ROAD COURSE LAP||1:31.68 sec|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||1,600 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$365,793|
|AIRBAGS||4: Dual front, front side/head|
|BASIC WARRANTY||3 yrs/Unlimited miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||3 yrs/Unlimited miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||3 yrs/Unlimited miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||20.6 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||15/22/18 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||225/153 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.11 lb/mile|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded premium|