Ferrari has a new midengine exotic to show off, the 488 Pista. Pista is Italian for “track,” which is a not-so-subtle hint that this model is more capable than the GTB on one. So, what did Ferrari do to makes this new toy more track-worthy than the already capable standard 488? Here are 5 things that have changed:
This is not a simple “tack on the rear wing and adds graphics” job. The Pista is a unique design, with the most noticeable cues coming from the front and rear. The lower front of the car extends farther compared to the GTB to make room for a differently oriented radiator as well as a swoopy multilayered set of horizontal panels with a channel between them that Ferrari calls an S-Duct. In back, engine intake ducts are now just in front of the rear spoiler, which is 1.2 inches higher and 1.6 inches longer than that of the GTB. Beneath that, the rear diffuser is easily identifiable underneath massive twin tailpipes. The design looks aggressive and, frankly, gorgeous.
Inside, the cockpit remains fairly uncluttered and spartan, with several of the controls right on the wheel, including the turn signals and five-setting manettino. Ferrari used a lot of Alcantara (synthetic suede, if you prefer) and carbon fibre to keep things light. The seats do move fore/aft, the seatbacks tilt and they’re height adjustable, but it looks like a track seat welded to the frame. The belts are four-point with a belt buckle in the centre and two shoulder straps, each with a Ferrari badge incorporated right around chest height.
50 more horsepower, specifically, than the GTB from the Pista’s 3.9-liter, twin-turbocharged V8. The total comes to 710 at 8,000 rpm. Ferrari swapped steel connecting rods for titanium and used a material called Inconel (nickel, chromium, and iron) for the exhaust manifolds, which saves weight. There’s also a more aggressive cam profile and larger intercooler. For good measure, Ferrari made sure it was 8 decibels louder than the GTB V8.
Torque also ticks up 7 compared with the GTB to a massive 568 lb-ft at 3,000 rpm. But that’s where things get interesting because that’s only in the Pista’s highest gear, seventh. Otherwise, torque is controlled via the powertrain computer by mainly managing boost levels such that full torque isn’t available until 6,750 rpm, and at that rpm, it’s about 553 lb-ft. First through third gear get the lowest levels of torque, then the higher gears ramp up the torque from there until you get the full amount in seventh. Ferrari says this gives a more naturally aspirated feel. And it does feel good, but it’s a hard truth to wrap your brain around.
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529 pounds of downforce pushes down on the tires at 124 mph. That’s more than the GTB, of course, but that’s also more than the very aggressive Porsche 911 GT3 RS — over 200 pounds more. Incredible figures from a road car, which comes courtesy of the aforementioned S-duct in front and the bigger wing in back. Ferrari also did a fair amount of work on the undertray to make the front splitter and rear diffuser work as effectively as possible.
That added downforce does hurt drag, but not by much, Ferrari claims. And using air to add the force on the tires is much better than weight. Ferrari claims the Pista tips the scales at just 3,053 pounds. I’m willing to bet that’s a touch optimistic, but even if it weighs over 3100 pounds, that’s incredibly light considering the power.
Modern tricks to have fun, yet not spin off
The change Ferrari is most proud of in the Pista’s vehicle dynamics is a new feature called Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer or FDE. It’s basically a mild stability control that’s only available in CT-Off mode on the manettino, the second least restrictive setting on the car. The system works to apply the brakes, but not reduce torque when the vehicle starts to slide especially oversteer. The driver can play around a bit on track as a result and get more aggressive with the power, even drift a bit, knowing that the car will still prevent a spin. It’s a little gimmicky, but it does work and makes it a little less stressful to have fun. And, if you keep your lap clean, it never intervenes — that’s really the best news.
For the first time, Ferrari has carbon-fibre wheels. They’re 20 inches in diameter and made from a single-piece of the lightweight weave. They weigh 40 per cent less than the standard forged-aluminium-alloy wheels, which also means that much less unsprung weight. To upgrade isn’t going to be cheap — pricing in the U.S. wasn’t provided, but it will be about 15,000 euros for the privilege. Yeah, not cheap.
But then again, the base price for the 488 Pista is $349,050, so as a percentage of price, going carbon fibre on the wheels sounds like an easy decision. Clearly, this car is for the top 1 per cent of the top 1 per cent of income earners, so why not go all out? The Pista is an all-out kind of car. One to dream about and a reason to start buying lottery tickets.