Ferrari’s new Pista is the company’s most powerful V8. Pic: Supplied.
Ferrari’s new Pista is the company’s most powerful V8. Pic: Supplied.

ROAD TEST: What it's like to drive Ferrari’s fastest V8

FAST, faster … and 488 Pista. This car has the most powerful V8 Ferrari has ever installed in a roadgoing model, full stop.

That's some sentence, yet it's not the complete Pista picture. Every part of this car has been crafted to create a home fit for its fabulous engine.

The Pista's twin-turbo 3.9-litre V8 is a masterwork. Other members of Ferrari's V8 family, used in the new Portofino, the GTC4 Lusso, and the 488 GTB and Spider, are awesome - but the variant of the V8 developed for the 488 Pista goes a step beyond …

The Ferrari 488 Pista is the brand’s most track-focused car yet. Picture: Supplied
The Ferrari 488 Pista is the brand’s most track-focused car yet. Picture: Supplied

Basically, it's a track engine made legal for the road. This provides the car with its name; "pista" is Italian for track.

Ferrari engineers learned a lot about increasing their V8's power while developing the 488 racers that have been winning since 2016. These lessons guided development of the 488 Pista.

The headline numbers are 530kW of peak power at 8000rpm. Not only is that power figure massive, it's a hefty 38kW over the 488 GTB V8. Even heftier is the cost of unleashing them.

The capacity of the Pista V8 is the same as the GTB engine, its cylinder bore and piston stroke identical. But 50 per cent of the parts are new.

The Pista testing on the roads around Maranello, Italy. Pic: Supplied
The Pista testing on the roads around Maranello, Italy. Pic: Supplied

Expensive, too. Many new parts are made from race-grade materials such as titanium, titanium-aluminium alloys and carbon-fibre.

The 488 Pista engine's new exhaust manifolds, made from tough Inconel steel alloy, are a good example of Ferrari's spare-no-expense approach - these cost about four times as much as the cast-iron items used in its other V8s.

Still, such a detail only partly explains why the $645,000 488 Pista costs $175,000 more than a 488 GTB. Ferrari also spent big on lightness - and reducing weight can be even more costly than increasing power.

Pista takes to Ferrari’s Fiorano test track. Pic: Supplied
Pista takes to Ferrari’s Fiorano test track. Pic: Supplied

One engineer who worked on the 488 Pista explained that every single part of the car weighing more than 20 grams was examined to see if it could be replaced with something lighter. This painstaking program cut 90kg, with a big chunk of this coming out of the engine.

The 488 Pista looks different from the 488 GTB for good reason. In the quest for extra power, Ferrari's engineers totally rearranged the way air flows around the car, into its engine and through its radiators and intercoolers. As a bonus, these aero alterations make the Pista the best looking 488 of all.

Inside, the car is stripped to the bare basics. But even though there's no glovebox, there's a lot of light, expensive carbon-fibre and Alcantara to be seen.

The cabin is stripped to bare basics. Pic: Supplied
The cabin is stripped to bare basics. Pic: Supplied

Even before settling into the snug-fit driver's seat, cinching the four-point harness belts tight and thumbing the steering wheel's red starter button to fire up the rear-mounted V8, you know this car is special.

But trying to explain what it's really like to drive something like the 488 Pista is like trying to describe sex to a virgin ... futile.

Only those who've actually had first-hand experience of an A-list supercar, expertly driven, can begin to imagine the violence, noise and speed. Acceleration, cornering and braking forces are fierce and the V8 bellows like the wild thing it is.

The pre-production press cars were camouflaged because the paint job wasn’t right yet. Pic: Supplied
The pre-production press cars were camouflaged because the paint job wasn’t right yet. Pic: Supplied

And the pace is sure to terrify a first-timer and quite likely to induce high g-force nausea.

Ferrari's genius is in creating a car with the stellar steering, grip, handling, brakes and aerodynamics to rip a racetrack to shreds, yet still be smooth and reasonably comfortable driving at a sedate pace on public roads.

The examples at Ferrari's special-invitation intro to the 488 Pistas in Italy came clad in camouflage, because they were pre-production and so lacked the right paint job.

But disguised Ferraris are so common around the company's hometown of Maranello that no once gives us a second look after we leave the gate of the fabled Fiorano test track.

The race harnesses are a nod to the car’s track focus. Pic: Supplied
The race harnesses are a nod to the car’s track focus. Pic: Supplied

Fighting through the Fiats, we head south from Maranello into the hills. The winding road is close to the Ferrari factory and a long-time favourite with its test drivers.

It's like walking a lion on a leash, yet the 488 Pista growls happily. This car doesn't just think it's a king of the asphalt jungle, it knows it ...



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