The Ferrari 488 GTB Instant Review
A turbocharged stallion with 661 horsepower? Yes, please.
Three of The Drive’s editors—Josh Condon, Will Sabel Courtney, and Sean Evans—recently all had their hands pried from the wheel of a 2017 Ferrari 488 GTB, since none wanted to return it. They discussed the finer merits and detractors of the absurdly fun, snarling Italian supercar via Slack, an instant message program with a fun ability to summon random gifs based on what users type. The following is a partial transcript of that conversation.
Sean Evans: Hey guys. The Ferrari 488 GTB. We all drove it. Let’s talk about our time with this lovely piece of engineering.
Will Sabel Courtney: Sean, you and I drove the 488 Spider. Josh drove the coupe.
Josh Condon: That car told me it loves me the most; you two were just flings. And, yes, I drove the hardtop. Remarkably little difference between the two, actually. Exact same suspension tune, same 0-60 time.
SE: They went with a hardtop because a soft top was going to be 55 pounds heavier and this only adds 110 pounds. Some other quick specs: in the rear, a 3.9-liter twin turbo V-8, good for 661 horsepower and 561 lb-ft of torque.
WSC: Not that you’d ever know it’s turbocharged. ZERO lag.
JC: There IS a turbo in there, right? I mean, it was pretty hard to tell.
SE: You can hear a bit of the wastegate.
WSC: You can hear it a teeny bit if you try.
SE: Did either of you even use the radio?
JC: There was a radio?
WSC: Yeah, I did.
SE: WHY? (Thank you, Josh.)
WSC: DADDY NEEDS HIS T.SWIFT, SEAN. But seriously, I was stuck in traffic for the sum total of maybe four or five hours with the car over the course of a weekend. Plenty of time to fiddle with the infotainment.
JC: Oy. Not the car's strong suit.
SE: Let’s talk interior. Loves? Loathes?
JC: Nothing has a wider delta between how comfortable it looks and how comfortable it is. All modern Ferraris look like you're getting into some origami-like modern-furniture dungeon...and yet, it was brilliant. I was in it for hours, and got out of it fresh.
WSC: I would have enjoyed a wee bit more legroom. But I say that about pretty much every car.
JC: You're freakishly tall, though. Disgustingly so. Like a /gif circus freak
WSC: This is me being unable to hear your insults from up here. All I hear are angels singing. And Ferrari engines revving.
SE: All I hear is that freaking engine still.
JC: Oh, that engine. I still hear it in my sleep. Here's the thing about Ferraris, and applicable to this car, I think: I'm not a Ferrari fanboy, and I rarely lust after things I'll never be able to afford. And in the course of this car-writing gig I've driven pretty much everything, or at least an extraordinarily wide selection. But Ferraris really just have magic in them.
SE: This one did. I’ve driven a few where I was thought, “Okay that’s nice, but I’m not blown away.” This one literally left me speechless at a few points.
JC: Driving them is just this run-on collection of "holy shit" moments.
WSC: Every trip carves itself into your memory. I think part of that is the little ways Ferrari makes its cars different than most. Putting the controls on the steering wheel, for example.
SE: I love that wheel. The shift indication lights up top, the driving mode selector, the feel of the grip. Everything was just... right.
JC: Everything the car does seems aimed at making it an extension of you, as the driver. It feels telepathic, perfectly balanced. And despite the power and speed, it actually reassures you as a driver, rather than intimidates. That's a rare trick to pull off.
WSC: I admit, I went into the car kind of thinking it was overhyped. That all the “Ferrari magic” was just people blowing smoke. But it proved itself in all those ways you said, Josh. The mechanical grip is incredible. I wound up driving most of the time with traction control off, but I never felt like I was in danger.
SE: I got some wheel spin in 3rd gear doing [REDACTED SPEED] and freaked a smidgen.
JC: /gif a little poo came out
SE: Speaking of speed. Both the hardtop and Spider will rip to 60 in 3.0 seconds. The Spider is only 0.3 seconds slower in the spring to 124 mph (at 8.7 seconds). I love all of those numbers.
WSC: Sounds about right. Uh, not that I accelerated from zero to 124 mph or anything.
JC: Here's the hard thing about reviewing a car like this: I only remember a general warm feeling of God's love, rather than specific details.
WSC: I took a few notes in the moment to try and capture it. “Drives like a big Miata with an Alcubierre drive strapped to its ass” is the first one.
SE: /gif nerd
JC: I mean, in the end, stats don't matter. Quibbles don't matter. Infotainment, glovebox storage, trunk space...who cares? Not why people buy these cars.
SE: Well, here are my simple gripes. 1) I can’t afford it. 2) If I could afford it, I can’t afford upkeep. 3) I can’t afford it. $270K. Right price?
WSC: Absolutely. Worth every penny.
JC: Such a hard question. Is any car worth the price of a house? All depends on what you can afford.
WSC: Compared to the other cars that cost that much, I say it’s worth it.
JC: Good point. And agreed.
SE: I took Spike Feresten out yesterday in the 488 Spider and in a McLaren 570GT. Effectively, the same engine. But that McLaren is $70K less.
WSC: Same-SIZED engine. Not the same by any stretch. One was built by Ferrari, one by McLaren. That’s like saying I’m the same person as John Holmes.
SE: Uh huh. But they are, though. They’re both supercars, with a F1 engineering team behind them, twin turbo V-8s. The Ferrari has 100 more horsepower and torque, but still. The McLaren is more approachable and more affordable.
JC: I think we should, for those who haven't driven it, reiterate how naturally-aspirated the turbo V-8 really felt.
WSC: Agreed. It pulls with such immediacy, anywhere in the rev range.
SE: It does. It has the howl, the pleasing grunt, and the yank
WSC: /gif that’s what she said
JC: And, as important, that angry, whiskey-drinking opera-soprano thing was still there. Not diluted. It lost no sonic potency, which was my worry. Because that's what you get from a Ferrari engine that you don't from a McLaren.
SE: That’s a great point. The Ferrari sound cannot be duplicated. In the McLaren, both Spike and I wished for more noise. However, the speed, the chassis, the road feel; it all felt similar.
JC: The 488 is the prettier car. Though the rear 3/4, not my favorite.
WSC: To be honest, when Ferrari dropped the 488, I thought it was ugly. But in person? It works so damn well.
SE: The 488 is very pretty, but here’s the thing: it’s so noticeable, you have to like the general public. Drive it and you will have to interact with them. Often. People asked me to race, had a thousand questions about the engine and just generally felt fine about shouting queries at me. I hate talking to strangers.
WSC: But that’s any supercar or super sports car.
SE: Nah, not the McLaren. That goes under the radar more (until you open the doors).
JC: Yeah, the McLaren is surprisingly stealth. Not the same category of car, but no modern Ferrari is as pretty as the F12berlinetta. Okay, what do we complain about with the 488?
SE: OOOOH! Nose lift. It needs one. BAD. Parking that is a bear. And a backup camera.
WSC: You can option the nose lift at least, I believe. Backing up was terrifying.
JC: Yeah, in the hardtop, rearward visibility was an issue. Parallel parking in NYC was, uh, not my favorite part. Still, I'm philosophically opposed to back-up cameras. Otherwise, sightlines were remarkably good. That greenhouse felt way more airy than it looked from the outside.
SE: I will gladly take the flak for this, but it needs ventilated seats. At, uh, speed, you can get a little warm. Nothing like climbing out of your Ferrari with a wet shirt.
WSC: I THROW FLACK AT THEE. Those seats were wonders of simplicity.
JC: Nope, agree with Sean.
WSC: Look, I love a good ventilated seat as much as the next guy. But I’ve never had one that did all THAT much to keep me cool. I’d rather sacrifice that little bit of cooling for those supportive carbon-fiber shells.
SE: Due to your freakish giant status, it would take a walk-in freezer to chill your entire gargantuan body.
JC: I know this gets thrown around for lots of modern supercars, but this thing was a breeze to drive. To drive fast, to putter around town, in traffic, whatever. I'm always amazed by that.
SE: True. Or for getting out of town. Speaking of that, storage. That’s a usual gripe on these kinds of cars. I was pleasantly surprised by the spaciousness of the frunk.
JC: I mean, sure, but only because you were expecting zero. “Hey, I can fit a sandwich in here! That's better than not fitting a sandwich!”
WSC: Nah, it had enough room for a couple of soft weekender bags. And a weekend is about as long as you’re driving that thing in one go.
JC: Do you see how many qualifiers are in that statement?
SE: /gif touche
SE: Let’s bring this home. Who is this car made for?
WSC: The versions of all of us who live in a world where auto journalism pays really well.
SE: AKA Jeremy Clarkson.
JC: Okay, you're paid very well but can only buy one. Which one? Hardtop or Spider?
SE: Hardtop. I can’t deal with the public.
WSC: Normally, I’m a coupe guy, but in this case…Spider. 99.8 percent of the performance, 98 percent of the sexiness, 200 percent more sound.
JC: /gif you disappoint me
SE: I can’t wait to race you and win by 0.3 seconds.
JC: There's no goddamn question here. Hardtop. Hardtop. Hardtop.
SE: Will, you may show yourself out now.
WSC: Josh, you’re just jealous because you don’t have hair to feel the wind in.
JC: Will, please see me after this review is over. /gif you’re fired
SE: On that note: /gif Ferrari 488
WSC: Spider! I win.
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