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Ferrari 488 Pista review: The leading power of Pista
IT'S hard not to have a soft spot for Ferrari's 'special series' of V8 sports cars, and the 488 Pista is no exception, as it carries on the tradition of past superstars like the 458 Speciale, 430 Scuderia and 360 Challenge Stradale.
Ferrari's specially-fettled sportscars aren't mere exercises in ticking more boxes in terms of colour/trim/equipment; they are lightened and fully re-engineered from inside-out to deliver the sort of slap-tickle performance that will see your toes curl in ecstasy, and you'll find it hard to believe the 'regular' model could have been reworked to such a degree.
Names for such special series models aren't chosen lightly and the 'Pista' in 488 Pista is Italian for 'racetrack', which is where it was born and bred - and where it thrives.
Visually, the Pista gets racing stripes (a familiar sight to fans of Ferrari's special series sportscars) and body-addenda to set it apart from the regular 488 GTB, all functional of course: the stripe strikes fear in its rivals and the aerodynamics are derived from the 488 GTE / Challenge racecar (albeit without the huge rear GT wing) and from Formula One, the sport that has helped to define Ferrari (and which has been defined by Ferrari, in turn).
The 488 Pista is the brand's first modern turbocharged car to enjoy the special treatment (its three predecessors were naturally-aspirated screamers), and since a turbocharged engine responds well to tuning, it sees a huge hike in terms of engine performance, with the regular GTB's 660 horsepower and 760 Newton-metres of peak torque wound-up to 710hp and 770Nm in the Pista.
Like its predecessors, a lot of the Pista's magic is attributed to a weight-loss regime applied to both mechanicals and body parts. It's 90kg lighter than the 488 GTB's 1,475kg, and this translates to scalpel-sharp reflexes and a well-nuanced agility that lends the Pista well to being led on a fast and furious tango along your favourite corners, on both road and track.
The turbocharged V8's internals have been reworked for reduced weight and improved strength, with power delivery that is breathtakingly explosive, as putting pedal to metal pins you into the seat with physics-defying force. As savage as the G-forces are under acceleration, you'll have to get used to them because you'll experience plenty of that in the corners as well.
Ferrari has engineered the 488 Pista to offer the immediacy in throttle response better aligned to naturally-aspirated engines than laggy turbocharged ones. This is coupled to a 'shotgun' effect with the dual-clutch transmission to deliver an altogether emotional driving experience; as the gearbox goes bam-bam-bam up its seven ratios, you never feel like you're clinically whooshing from A-to-B.
Supercars never used to be easy to drive, but with today's trick chassis tuning, yaw control and torque vectoring electronics, the emphasis these days is as much on daily driveability as it is on track-day jollies.
With the 458 Speciale, Ferrari introduced the impressive Side Slip Angle Control (or SSC) system, which has been tweaked to even more dramatic effect in the 488 Pista's version 6.0.
It is accessed in the CT Off driving mode (above Race and one level down from turning the traction/ stability systems completely off), and lets one perform the most lurid displays of tail sliding control.
For enthusiastic drivers, it's not enough to have the SSC work out the kinks, because the wonderful thing is how progressive the chassis is, and the feel you receive from the seat-of-pants, so you're never caught with those pants down after provoking the Pista's back end - the recovery is never white-knuckled reactive, but looks heroic enough to evoke cheers.
Such performance is great to wow your mates and fanboys with, but that's not the way Ferrari rolls, least of all for the special cars like the 488 Pista.
In fact, if you were any sort of a driving enthusiast, it might well be frustrating to own a supercar whose abilities were only accessible to a racing driver in very specific track conditions. The Ferrari isn't like that. It boasts storming credentials, but because the brand's latest approach to its owners empowers them by letting them tap into the Pista's formidable abilities, it hasn't sidelined the most important element: the driver.
FERRARI 488 PISTA
Engine 3,902cc, V8, twin-turbo
Power 710hp at 8000rpm
Torque 770Nm at 3000rpm
Gearbox 7-speed ‘F1’ dual-clutch
Top speed More than 340km/h
0-100km/h 2.85 seconds
Fuel efficiency 11.5L/100km
Price On application
Agent Ital Auto