Ferrari isn’t so much an automaker as a hedge fund guaranteeing absurd returns. The 2019 488 Pista—the name means “track” in Italian—is Marcelo’s most extreme V-8 supercar to date, and it very well may be the safest way for your bank account to experience 211 mph.
Ferrari’s primary intention with the 488 Pista—which follows in the tire tracks of the previous hard-core 360 Challenge Stradale, 430 Scuderia, and 458 Speciale—is to make amateurs feel like Fernando Alonso. The Pista is the nearest thing to attaching a license plate to a 488GTE, GT3, or Challenge racer. Except it’s probably faster.
The Pista’s 3.9-liter twin-turbo V-8 shoves 49 more horsepower and 7 more lb-ft of torque than a regular 488GTB and elevates it into the elite club of sub-$1,000,000 cars with 700-plus horsepower. The figures are appropriately mind-bending: 710 horsepower at 8000 rpm, 568 lb-ft at 3000 rpm, zero to 62 mph in 2.9 seconds, zero to 124 mph in 7.6 seconds, and a top speed of more than 211 mph. It’s also appropriately slower in acceleration and less powerful than the 789-hp 812 Superfast, although only insurance actuaries will concern themselves with those decimal differences. Only the 700-hp Porsche 911 GT2 RS, 710-hp McLaren 720S, and 730-hp-plus Lamborghini Aventador come close in raw power at a similar price, assuming the Pista shopper isn’t considering anything from the parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles family of 707-hp Hellcats. While Ferrari hasn’t disclosed the exact engine modifications, it boasts of a louder and better-sounding exhaust “in all gears and at all engine speeds.”
Ferrari has undeniable expertise at crafting trick aerodynamics and electronic controls. Compared to the 488GTB, the Pista sits 0.3 inch lower, is 0.9 inch wider, and is 1.5 inches shorter overall. The carmaker also promises a 198-pound weight reduction that puts the Pista within 44 pounds of the 488GTE and 488 GT3 race cars (as measured dry, without any fluids). As if the standard 488 weren’t sticky enough, the Pista adopts the GTE’s front splitter angle and reshapes the entire bumper, revises the rear diffuser, adds a dolphin-tail spoiler, and cuts additional air-exiting holes into the rear fenders. The Pista’s greatest piece, however, is the steep channel carved into the hood. Known to racing and aerospace engineers as an S-duct, this design increases downforce on the front axle by funneling air from the bottom of the diffuser and directing it upward in an S pattern, which creates a suction effect between the channeled air and the body surface.
Ferrari incorporated such an S-duct in the F2008—it was the first Formula 1 car to be so equipped—and won the constructor’s championship that year; the FIA banned the device the following season. Together, all of the Pista’s aero changes combine for a 20 percent increase in downforce. Ferrari works more magic into the Pista’s Side-Slip Angle Control, now in version six, that deftly conducts the goings-on of the electronic limited-slip differential, the traction and stability control, and the magnetic damper’s response, and can even vary how hard the brake calipers bite. Inside, it’s the usual 488 fare but with more microsuede trim and red stripes, plus five-point seatbelts that won’t be allowed (in the showroom, at least) in the States.
While pricing, availability, and other details must wait until the Pista’s debut at the Geneva auto show next month, the Ferrari faithful might wish Lamborghini hadn’t made the 2018 Huracán Performante, a 631-hp rival that in our hands ran to 60 mph in 2.3 seconds and on to 100 mph in 5.4 seconds. Maybe, just maybe, the 488 Pista won’t net as much profit for the world’s supercar collectors. But they’ve probably ordered a Performante to be extra safe.