Ferrari 488 Pista 3.9T V8

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No pressure: the Ferrari 488 Pista has some big tyres to fill. This is the fourth car in Ferrari’s V8 ‘special series’, which began with the 360 Challenge Stradale in 2003, followed by the 430 Scuderia in 2007 and the 458 Speciale in 2013 – all of which are, justifiably, whispered of in hallowed terms as all-time-greats, each of them an enthralling driver’s car for the ages.

The Pista (named after the Italian for ‘track’, and pronounced pee-sta) is the most potent Special Series car yet, with fiendishly clever electronics, aerodynamics influenced directly by Ferrari’s 488 Challenge and GTE racing cars – and a power output starting with a 7…

That it’s hugely fast on road and track isn’t a surprise, but that it’s also such a well-rounded and confidence-inspiring plaything is perhaps this car’s greatest achievement.

Yes, but the way it’s been applied is quite fascinating. On the aerodynamic front, one of the most outwardly obvious features is the new ‘S-duct’ integrated into the 488’s nose. The optional stripe livery (a snip at £8,640, in a choice of single- or two-tone) shows it off to best effect, diving into the scalloped section below the front badge, remerging at the front spoiler. Together with new winglets and underbody front diffusers, the S-duct contributes to significantly more front downforce than the GTB.

At the other end, the stripes flick up over an elongated tail spoiler. It’s fixed and doesn’t move, but three flaps within the rear diffuser (based on that of the 488 GTE Le Mans racer) open and shut actively, for less drag in a straight line or higher downforce for stopping and turning.

Overall downforce increase over the GTB is in the order of 20%, and yet, impressively, Ferrari claims there isn’t a commensurate penalty in drag. That’s partly because it’s achieved the extra aerodynamic grip without the use of giant fixed spoilers, and it has to be said, the Pista does look good. Drinking in its details in the Modenese sunshine, it looks more purposeful, less fussy than the GTB.

Under the skin, plenty has changed – the radiators in the nose have flipped position to make space for two front diffusers (incorporated into a similar near-totally flat floor to the 488 Challenge racer's), and the intercoolers behind the giant side scoops have moved higher, in search of cooler, more efficient airflow.

Power is up by 50bhp from the 488 GTB, making this the biggest step forward of all the V8 Special Series so far. The power increase from 458 Italia to Speciale was 35bhp, for example.

So the 488 Pista now generates no less than 710bhp. Specific power is now 182bhp/litre vs 172 for the GTB, and peak torque is now up to 568lb ft, a 7lb ft increase.

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