EVERY once in a while Ferrari gathers a select group of special customers and dealers and clues them in as to what’s in the pipeline.
Journalists are not welcome. Nor, come to think of it, are people with smartphones who take pictures of the presentation and post them online.
Whoever did this might well be on some sort of list now at Maranello. But we have them to thank for giving us a glimpse of a faster, lighter, more extreme Ferrari 488 that’s expected to arrive at the Geneva motor show in March.
The theme isn’t new. We’ve had the 348 GT Competizione, the F355 Challenge, the 360 Challenge Stradale, the 430 Scuderia and the 458 Speciale and they’ve all been magnificent. The difference this time is that the 488 has a turbocharger which allows the hot version to boast the "highest horsepower increase vs donor car for a V8 special series."
In other words, expect power to jump from the 488 GTB’s current 492kW to somewhere in excess of 522kW. It’s hard to see Ferrari being able to resist topping the 537kW output of the McLaren 720S, especially as Woking is known to be working on an even quicker version of that car. The Ferrari’s engine is set to be a development of the 488 Challenge car’s lump. This is some ten percent lighter than the production car motor, and the presentation promised a "unique track-like sound."
As you’d expect, the new car will go large on carbonfibre body panels, with the bonnet, bumpers and rear wing being finished in composite, while the dashboard, transmission tunnel and 20-inch wheels will also ditch metal for CF. Those rims are 40 percent lighter than the production 488 GTB alloys, which will mean a marked improvement in unsprung weight and agility, thanks to their reduced gyroscopic mass. Fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber, they’re just part of a suite of weight-shaving measures that also include thinner glass, an interior shorn of any fripperies, much of the sound deadening stripped away and an aluminium cabin floor.
Given that the Huracan Perfomante leveraged much of its ability through smart aero work, Maranello have been working the wind tunnel hard with this car. A GTE-look rear diffuser and more efficient front ducting help increase aero efficiency by a claimed 20 percent. In addition to this, other dynamics have been tweaked such as an even sharper steering ratio, a more aggressive transmission calibration, and the ESC has been revised to offer track day drivers more options at the limit of grip.
The name has yet to be tied down, with the presentation referring to it, prosaically, as the "new V8 Sport Special Series." Rumour has circulated that Ferrari could bring the GTO badge back for this one, reprising the 288 GTO, built between 1984 and 1987. We may have to wait until press day at Geneva for confirmation on that one.