What It Is: A red Ferrari that’s more interesting than the typical scarlet horse seen cruising Bel Air, London, or some other such place. That’s because it is a prototype previewing the 488GTB’s rarer, higher-performance sibling. Ferrari built a similarly upgraded version of the 488GTB’s predecessor, the 458 Italia, but rather than that maxi model’s Speciale name, this new one is likely to opt for the historic GTO label.
Why It Matters: Ferrari remains synonymous with the word supercar, but the famously insecure company can’t stand to be upstaged no matter the invincibility of its brand image. Today’s 488GTB outperforms not only the old 458 Italia but even the 458 Speciale. It seems that’s no longer good enough for Ferrari, particularly in the face of fresher competitors such as McLaren’s 720S and Lamborghini’s Huracán Performante. While Ferrari clearly believes it needs an answer to these upstarts, we couldn’t care less about its motivations because the resulting 488GTO surely will be an epic thing to drive. Ain’t competition grand?
Platform: The 488GTO will share its spaceframe and mid-engine layout with its GTB sibling. Despite the camouflage on the prototype shown here, it’s apparent that Ferrari will revise the openings in the 488’s pretty bodywork to direct more air into the engine bay and at the brakes. Not visible here are the lightened body, stiffened suspension, enhanced brakes, and retuned chassis electronics we expect the GTO to adopt in an effort to extract even more speed from the 488. On the vanity end of things, expect the production car to wear special wheels and aerodynamic add-ons such as front and rear spoilers.
Powertrain: Only in Ferrari’s rarified world could 661 horsepower and 561 lb-ft of torque, extracted from a twin-turbocharged 3.9-liter V-8, be deemed insufficient or, at least, numbers to be improved upon. The 488GTO will pile additional ponies and lb-ft onto the standard 488GTB’s totals—and likely far more than the 35 horsepower (and zero extra torque) in the 458’s conversion to the Speciale. Thank the 488’s turbochargers for the ease in that upgrade—although Ferrari is expected to carefully manage the GTO’s extra output to maintain the engine’s excellent tractability and near-nonexistent turbo lag. Cross your fingers that the GTO’s exhaust will be tuned to A) be louder than the GTB’s and B) uncork more of the V-8’s mechanical noise that’s muffled in that model.
Competition: Lamborghini Hurácan Performante, McLaren 720S.
Estimated Arrival and Price: Such is the company’s aura that Ferrari could probably charge the select group of customers who’ll be able to get their hands on this GTO whatever it would like for the privilege. We believe Ferrari could rake in about $300,000 per GTO, a significant jump over the 488GTB’s $256,550 list price. The car won’t be available until sometime next year, and even then, it will go only to the lucky few already on a list that has already been completed.