California Ferrari dealerships are shopping around a brand new Ferrari 488 GTB, the turbo replacement for its famed 458 Italia. Reviews are mixed with ferraristas either loving or lumping the turbo-boosted powerhouse with nearly no one but government caring about its improved fuel economy.
Fact #1: Ferrari 488, a twin turbo-charged 3.9 liter 8-cylinder engine, outputs 660 horsepower at 8,000 rpm (red line).
Fact #2: Ferrari 458, a normally aspirated 4.5 liter 8-cylinder engine, outputs 570 horsepower at 9,000 rpm (red line).
488 GTB uses two turbo-chargers to boost more power from a smaller engine. 458 Italia uses an unboosted internal combustion engine, taking in ambient air without compressing it before combustion. This is a critical difference and cause for the consternation between Ferrari’s ‘haves’ and ‘have nexts.’
One block of buyers must have the latest Ferrari off the line. Their mantra: “My favorite Ferrari is the next one” meaning, for now, the 488 GTB. The other block buys the classics. Ferrari 458’s sexy styling and superlative performance are making the model a classic as we speak. The former is turbo-boosted, the latter is not.
Douse the idea that 488 GTB must be Ferrari’s first foray into turbo boosting. It’s not. Enzo’s first turbo developments produced the 288 GTO and F40 but for very different reasons than turbo boosting 488 GTB now.
Turbo boosting uses the exhaust that is usually sent out the tailpipe. Instead, 488 exhaust is sent first to a compressor, then forced into the engine, causing greater power generation than normally aspirated air intake. Exhaust provides hotter, higher-pressure air to the engine.
Exhaust contains that much maligned molecule, CO2. What is toxic about CO2? Not much. And maybe exhaust still has some unburned hydrocarbon, that petroleum-based source of energy that fuels our economy while creating prosperity. Regulations allow less of those emissions into the air, so they are compressed and blown back into the engine to create turbo power.
488 GTB turbo is absent the growling explosion of escaping exhaust, signaling the delivery of dense, high-BTU hydrocarbon energy. Its loud whine just isn’t the same as 458’s grand guttural growl, which is why the ‘haves’ have their Ferraris in the normally aspirated form.
Ferrari 488 GTB is 14% more fuel efficient than 458 Italia, a requirement from the eco-freaks in the party in power. Yeah, it’s exciting when fuel economy improves from 13 to 15 mpg. No matter that fans do not buy Ferraris for their fuel economy: Government regulation is the real reason Ferrari went turbo in its 8-cylinder series.
Ferrari Magazine (Issue 28) writes “In 2015, things are very different and rather more complicated. Ferrari still stimulates and responds to its clients’ demands…but its road cars are constrained by complex legislative demands.” Carbon-fearing governments might like to can Ferrari entirely, but the 488 GTB resisted the government gotcha by using smaller turbo-boosted engines to lower fuel consumption, lower emissions, and meet the whole nine yards of political correctness…all while providing the 1% eco-left-elites with a turbo toy only they could afford for the hypocrisy of green enjoyment.
Ferrari cleverly met government-imposed fleet standards. What a better way to achieve fleet specs than to sell the eco-friendly 8-cylinders so that the big, desirable, unboosted 12-cylinder Ferraris, like F12, FF, and La Ferrari, could continue to come off the line unmolested. In this way, Ferrari pulled off a brilliant but strategic nose-thumb to government control.