You know the headlines but watch how it all fits together.

It was perhaps the most controversial thing Ferrari has ever done: putting a turbocharged engine in its signature mid-engined, V8 supercar to create the 488 GTB.

Ferrari is no stranger to turbocharging, of course. The 288 GTO and F40 - legends, both - featured turbo motors, as did the California T that arrived a few months before the 488.

But none of those cars carried the same kind of baggage that weighs the 488 down. Ever since the 308 was introduced in the mid-1970s, the mid-engined V8 has been the mainstay of the Ferrari range, and most of them have been a byword for the ultimate driving experience.

The worry was that the 488’s engine would dilute the experience, round off some of the edges. I didn’t help that the naturally-aspirated motor in the preceding 458 Italia is widely regarded as one of the all-time greats.

But those worries have largely proven to be unfounded. In goes without saying that the 3.9-liter, twin-turbo lump is immensely powerful, serving up 670 horsepower (500 kilowatts) and 560 pound-feet of torque (760 Newton meters). Which translates to 0 to 60 miles-per-hour (0 to 100 kilometers-per-hour) of 3.0 seconds and a top speed of 205 mph (330 km/h).

Which is impressive, but what has surprised everyone is the responsiveness. Indeed, Ferrari claims the taps open fully in just 0.8 seconds, the same as a non-turbo engine would manage. Thank the flat-plane crankshaft and very clever blower control for that.

Inevitably, not everyone likes the noise, which Ferrari amusingly describes as a “performance soundtrack”. There’s no denying it’s not as operatic as the 458, a little flat and hollow. But it’s still spine-tingling. And let’s face it: most Ferrari owners spend very little time in the upper reaches of the rev range where the 458 really started to sing, so what does it actually matter?  

Anyway, here’s a neat little animation that shows exactly what’s going on and it’s pretty fascinating stuff. And below, there’s another explainer on the 488’s witchcraft-like chassis systems.


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