WHATEVER THE EXPLICIT, THERE IS NO DENYING FERRARI'S POTENT FORMULA, BUT THE 488 MAKES BOBBY PONDER IF IT’S PHYSICS LIMITING THAT EXTRA 30 ODD HORSES, OR PROGRAMMING.
THE FERRARI 488 GTB DOES ALL WITH EASE, AND WITH A BUT.
he 488 GTB is fast. Unbelievably quick with its gear shifts, unbelievably quick with the way it picks up speed the moment you put the foot down. Zero lag as claimed by other journalists? Nonsense. It’s there, it’s always there after you slowed the car down and want to pick it back up. You need not suggest the use of the Manettino to Race mode for immediate power; I’m on the road, not the track. However so slightly, the lag is there.
The suspension is unbelievably comfortable for a car of its kind. Visibility is great, you see everything around you, it’s so easily manuverable and liveable you’d have a double take to check if this is a supercar at all. The interior is typical Ferrari fashion, none of the attempts to look luxurious, everything looks as if it’s ready anytime for race. This is a race car for the road, it is that fast, that capable. Met a proud AMG GT-S owner? Smoke 'em straight, there’s no contest - straight or corners. In fact, on twisty roads the 488 GTB changes direction like nothing else. It’s light but surefooted.
But the problem is this - the 458 does all that.
The 458 Speciale was claimed to be a revelation, the very last of it's kind where machines were honed to perfection by mechanical precision, crafted by racing and performance connoisseurs. It’s the epitome of an era where metallurgy howls, chemical reaction spits and pops. The 458 was a car that was milled from the collective know-how of engineers, powertrain architects and drivers. It was the result of the limits of physics, and of chemistry.
You know why Italians have the bad reputation of making unreliable cars? Of course, the Brits like to joke that it’s because they work halfway and decided to go grab a cup of coffee. This is only as true as our understanding of a certain Italian joke about the Brits not being able to get anything done at all - if we can read the Italian joke at the first place.
You see, the Italians were known to be daring, experimental, glory or death. If the Axis of evil thought of Kamikaze planes you’d bet the Italians would be the first to sign up for them. They have balls the size of Sicily and they don’t give a damn about losing a limb or two to win an argument. They’re passionate people, ideological. If they wanna have sex in the morning and miss that job interview, so be it. Going home through the front door? How boring. How about jumping through the window by climbing that tree? Great idea, albeit not very reliable if things go wrong. Well, the limb will heal, but the glory of successfully doing it is irresistible.
“Oh you designed a new variable valve timing cam shaft but weren’t sure if it’s reliable? Screw it, put it in and let all of us enjoy the sound of an engine singing! What? A supercharger for lower RPM and a turbocharger for higher RPM? Do it! Oh you thought of putting the disc brakes in-bound to reduce the unsprung weight of the wheels even though it’s impossible for the brakes to cool down? Fanfuckingtastic! Do it! You know what? Do it all at once! Oohlala so many brave spirits are going to like our great inventions!”
And this sums up the Italian car industry - They operate at the limits of physics and then apply the daring spirit of humans to see how big of a fireball that chemistry happening in the combustion chamber’s gonna blew up.
What about the sound? It’s no longer there, that top end scream where Ferraris are famous for, that beautiful howling sound of those amazing V8 Berlinettas, it’s no longer there. The 488 GTB just doesn’t sound as good as the 458 Italia. In the pursue of making the new 3.9-litre V8 sound as close to the 4.5-litre V8, they tried their very best to tune it to sing like the NA V8s of yore. But that to me is wrong, they should embrace the sound of turbocharged cars instead of trying to subdue the swoosh and sttututus of turbos. The resulting cacophony is as if Nessun Dorma being sang beautifully - next door. And when it comes to the last verse of Vincero, it sounded more like Andrea Bocelli skilfully controlling it to perfection to hide any deficiency instead of Pavarotti’s full bore of perfect imperfections.
The 488 GTB is one of the greatest supercars you can buy now by all quantifiable measures. The same way Andrea Bocelli is great - because Pavarotti is no longer around.
The 458 Speciale operates at the very limits of what a 4.5-litre V8 naturally aspirated engine can do. Screaming when its crankshafts are turning 150 times a second churning out 600hp. If the engineers want to extract more power out of it, they’d have to either enlarge the bores, or further stratify the fuel mixture for fission power etc. It is already at the verge of what circumstantial physics allows it to do.
The 488 GTB on the other hand makes 670hp from a forced induction 3.9-litre V8. No doubts about Ferrari’s engineering in creating engines that perform, but that makes me wonder if that 30hp deficit from the magical 700hp is a limitation of physics or software programming, of which the codings were ready but timed for their release by the 8th of March somewhere in Geneva with the nomenclature changed to a certain GTO instead of GTB and of course doubling the price by means of exclusivity.
words by BOBBY ANG | photography by BENG LIM
"They operate at the limits of physics and then apply the daring spirit of humans to see how big of a fireball that chemistry happening in the combustion chamber’s gonna blew up."
"The resulting cacophony is as if Nessun Dorma being sang beautifully - next door."
"You see, the Italians were known to be daring, experimental, glory or death."