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The Ferrari 488: History, Highlights, Buying Tips, and More

All things Ferrari 488 on Automobile.

Ferrari 488 Essential History

Ever since the Ferrari 308 arrived in 1975, mid-engine V-8 Ferraris have come in sequential pairs. That is, after a full-bore redesign, the subsequent new model will likely be a heavily revised version of the prior car. This holds truer in some cases than others, but the evolution of the mid-engine V-8 Ferrari starts with the 308/328 and continues through the 348/F355, 360/F430, and eventually the 458. As you might expect, the Ferrari 488 is best approached as a significant evolution of the 458.

While the latent 458 DNA bleeds through the general profile and aesthetics, the 488 is mechanically a moonshot away from the prior car. Gone is the 458's stunning 4.5-liter naturally aspirated V-8, supplanted by the 488's 3.9-liter twin-turbo V-8, making this the first forced-induction Ferrari since the mighty F40. With the addition of those two turbos, power jumps dramatically from the 458's 562 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque to 661 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque in the 488. Like the 458, a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission handles this impressive output.

Performance is impressive. Zero to 60-mph takes just under 3.0 seconds, and the 488 reaches a top speed of 205 mph. A Ferrari is usually much more than impressive straight-line speed, so the 488 is fitted with every conceivable manner of performance tech, including active aero, adaptive suspension, standard carbon ceramic brakes, extensive use of carbon fiber and lightweight composites, and a whole suite of Ferrari's impressive driving assistance systems.

For those who find the regular 488 to be a bit down on power and capability, Ferrari turns everything up in the 488 Pista. Like the preceding F430 Scuderia and the 458 Speciale, the 488 Pista is a stripped-out, fired-up, limited-edition version of the 488. Fifty percent of the engine componentry is all-new, including a heavily revised exhaust system that contributes to the Pista's 176-pound weight reduction over the regular 488 GTB. That boosted V-8 is now rated 710 hp and 568 lb-ft, while every millimeter of the 488's bones are gone through with a fine-tipped titanium scraper. Springs are stiffer, software sharper, tires stickier, interior barer, and aero is more effective.

Of course, if you're about getting more in touch with both the blue sky and that raucous 3.9-liter screaming behind your head, the 488 Spider and following 488 Pista Spider crop their top at the touch of a button. Hope you got the one you wanted—after four model years, the current and all-new F8 Tributo replaced the 488 for 2021, bringing an end to the 458's decade-long DNA.

Ferrari 488 Highlights

From the first time the 488 touched tire to tarmac back in 2015, it was already revered as one of the sharpest-driving supercars on the market. Despite strong sales and rave reviews, the 488 will forever and always be seen as a transitional phase for the V-8 Ferrari lineup, parked in the overlapped shadow between the fantabulous 458 and the new (and rather unbelievable) F8 Tributo. The 488 had the inauspicious distinction as the harbinger of forced induction for modern Ferrari; a significant leap in performance and capability, but another nail in the coffin of what those anorak Ferrari purists covet.

The 488 also had the rotten luck of existing on the same timeline as the extraterrestrial McLaren 720S, a streak of carbon fiber that by all accounts was Woking's very best shot-across-the-bow at Maranello. Honestly, it worked—the current F8 Tributo drives very much like Ferrari broke down a 720S to its elements and sprinkled the resulting powder over a Ferrari-esque shape. However, if you're not one of those Ferrari obsessives, and simply want to own one of the greatest supercars of the 2010s, a slightly depreciated 488 GTB might be a great place to start.

Ferrari 488 Buying Tips

As usual, a pre-purchase inspection and shakedown is vital when you're looking for your ideal 488. Expect extraordinary repair bills and wallet-breaking regular maintenance on-par with what you've heard about from other Ferrari owners. However, Ferrari owners are notoriously stingy with seat-time, giving you a sizable shot at finding an ultra-low mile 488 from a nervous first owner.

Regardless of roof configuration and applied Pista badging, you're going to have a phenomenal time. If you've got a few mountains of cash taking up space in the coffers, consider the Pista and Pista Spider—that duo is still the pinnacle of Ferrari's mid-engine V-8 family, at least until the hotted-up F8 arrives in the coming years. If the Pista somehow doesn't provide inspiration, Pistas have already proved to be solid appreciating investments, a trend born from its status as a limited-edition Ferrari.

Ferrari 488 Stories on Automobile

Lucky us—while the Ferrari 488 was still in production, we got plenty of time behind the wheel.

Ferrari 488 Quick Facts  

  • First year of production: 2016 (U.S. )
  • Original price: $249,150 (2016)
  • One of the greatest transitional Ferraris in history
  • First Ferrari to use forced induction since the F40
  • The more hardcore Pista is one of the quickest Ferraris ever made

Ferrari 488 FAQ

You have questions about the Ferrari 488. Automobile has answers. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked Ferrari 488 queries:

Is the Ferrari 488 a supercar?

Absolutely! In performance, price, aesthetics, and capability, the Ferrari 488 remains one of the sharpest supercars today.

Is the Ferrari 488 all-wheel drive?

No, all variants and permutations of the 488 are rear-wheel drive.

How many Ferrari 488s were made?

Ferrari is relatively clandestine when it comes to production figures for its non-limited models, but considering the regular 488 likely made up a significant portion of Ferrari's overall annual production, there's a good chance there are between 10,000 and 15,0000 488s prowling around.

How many Ferrari 488 Pistas are there?

Ferrari says it built around 3,500 Pistas.

2018 Ferrari 488 Spider Specifications

ON SALE Now
PRICE $284,650/$393,411 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 3.9L DOHC 32-valve twin-turbo V-8/661 hp @ 8,000 rpm, 561 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
LAYOUT 2-door, 2-passenger, mid-engine, RWD convertible
EPA MILEAGE 15/20 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 179.8 x 76.9 x 47.7 in
WHEELBASE 104.3 in
WEIGHT 3,350 lb
0-60 MPH 2.9 sec (est)
TOP SPEED 205 mph