Ferrari 488 GTB / Spider (2015 - present): Review, Problems, Specs

The 488 GTB follows in the footsteps of what is regarded as one of the best mid-engined Ferraris ever: the 458 (which came as a Spider or the later and hotter Speciale). The biggest change from 458 to 488 is the adoption of a new turbocharged V8 in place of the previous naturally-aspirated unit.

However, you can’t argue with all the advancements it features over its predecessor, or the extra performance it gains with the new 3.9-liter engine. The design is also evolutionary, both inside and out, and if you can get over the slightly duller exhaust note it’s hard not to fall head over heels for this car.

This is especially true for the drop-top Spider version that is very similar to the same version of the older 458 Spider.


Pros & Cons
Strong Points

Pros


Strong Points
  • Excellent new engine that’s more usable than before
  • The way it looks from any angle
  • Near-telepathic handling and response
  • The noticeable extra efficiency of the turbo power plant

Recommended Versions
Strong Points

Cons


Weak Points
  • The one everybody talks about, it not sounding as good as the 458
  • Visibility out the back

Stay Away From
  • Unusual color / trim combos as they may hurt resale value
Strong Points

Attention


Known Problems & Recalls
  • Sale temporarily halted in December 2015 along with California T
Car Details
Powertrain

The big talking point with the 488 GTB is its new turbocharged power plant. It’s smaller in capacity than the engine found in the 458, displacing just 3.9-liters, but thanks to a pair of turbochargers it’s considerably more powerful, torquier and generally more usable.

It’s still a screamer at the top end, though, and it barely betrays its turbocharged nature with restrained hissing and popping coming from the engine. There is no blowoff valve sound to speak of.

The gearbox is a development of the 458’s dual-clutch automated F1 manual. It is pretty much faultless in its operation irrespective which driving mode or mood you’re in.

Torque from the engine is limited in the first gears, and you only get to experience the full 760 Nm / 561 lb-ft in seventh gear. Even so, it feels much more muscular than a 458, especially at lower revs.


Handling

The 488 GTB builds upon the impressive handling legacy of the 458. If you’ve driven the older car and are moving up to the newer one, you’ll undoubtedly feel the urge to call them similar; they are.

However, floor it in a corner and that extra torque will see the back step out far easier than you’d expect it to based solely on experience driving the 458.

It’s not scary, but you have to expect it to happen if you prod it too hard coming out of a bend.


Safety

Like its predecessor, the 488 features a total of four airbags to keep its occupants cushioned in the event of a crash. It features the same super-stiff aluminum monocoque construction which Ferrari says has been stiffened by around 25 percent.

What makes this and other new Ferraris particularly safe are the electronics. The Italian automaker has gotten very good at blending the sheer mechanical capability of its cars with seemingly non-intrusive electronics.

These high tech traction- and stability-enhancing aids can be incrementally enabled or disabled depending on driver skill and road conditions. With them fully off, the car is not safe in the hands of a beginner, but with them fully enabled, literally anybody could drive it fast.

Comfort

Climbing aboard the 488 GTB or Spider you immediately spot it’s an evolution of the 458. The dash is laid out in nearly identical manner and materials are as exquisite as we’ve come to expect.

The standard seats are comfortable and supportive and if you select the “bumpy road mode” on the steering wheel, a cruise in a 488 is surprisingly cosseting.

Kit-wise, it comes with standard dual-zone climate control, cruise control and that slightly daunting button fest of a steering wheel. You can optionally add more speakers to the Harman Kardon sound system and really go beyond the realm of normal car personalization with Ferrari’s extensive programs.


Quality

You really can’t fault the 488 for quality, whether that be perceived quality, build quality or quality of engineering. It’s a standout in all three categories and its interior really reflects its price, exclusivity and exotic nature.

You also get a sense of it being substantially engineered with a clear blend of performance and usability in mind. It doesn’t feel flimsy in any way or like it’s about to lose one of its wishbones over bigger road imperfections.


Practicality

If you plan on buying a 488 for the purpose of going on long trips, then you’re better off with the F12 Berlinetta or if you don’t want to give up on the drop-top experience just get the slower California T.

If, however, you’re looking for something to have fun in and also occasionally use to actually get to places where you need to be then the 488 is better suited.

Its interior is surprisingly cavernous for what it is (an improvement over the 458) and there are sufficient storage bins and cubbies to hold your belongings in place and out of sight. It feels like a practical people mover compared to the F430 of two generations ago...


Infotainment

Ferrari’s latest infotainment system is up there with the better systems on the market. The screen is responsive, the standard interface simple and fairly easy to navigate and if you have an iPhone, you’ll be happy to note it comes with Apple Car play.

It even gets a separate dedicated (physical) button for it and once clicked, it completely changes to look and functionality to that of the Apple Car play system.

Efficiency

The main reason for Ferrari turning to turbocharged engines in favor of raspier, more savage-sounding naturally aspirated units, is improved fuel efficiency (and the inherently lower emissions).

Ferrari says the 488 is some 15 percent better on fuel than the 458, while the amount of CO2 coming out of the back has been cut from 307 g/km to 260 g/km, or about as much as a sporty executive sedan with a V6 engine.


Equipment

You couldn’t call a standard 488 GTB spartan as it comes equipped like you would expect something this exclusive to come. However, chances are you’ll never ever spot two which are alike as those who order these like to take advantage of the intricate personalization options offered by Ferrari.

Even if you steer clear of their uber-exclusive specialist programs, you can pick one of 28 exterior colors and no fewer than 15 different shades of leather for the interior.

You can also add various carbon fiber bits to your heart’s desire, and you’ll also have to shell out extra for front / rear parking sensors or the hydraulic nose lift that raises the car’s nose 40 mm for those extra tall sleeping policemen.


Acquisition

Buying a 488 comes down to personal preference, biases and whether or not you’ve had a look at the competition. The McLaren 650S, for instance, is a much more serious contender than any previous offering from the Woking-based automaker, and you really should give it a look along with Lamborghini’s safer all-wheel drive Huracan.

When looking at a 488, you should also take note that the price can skyrocket if you get carried away with the options, particularly if you opt into the aforementioned specialist programs.

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