LAKEVILLE, Conn.—Anyone lucky enough to be shopping for a mid-engined supercar in 2017 has quite the array of possibilities before them. There's the Lamborghini Huracán, now also available with just rear-wheel drive. McLaren has its new 720S, the follow-up to the sublime 650S we were so smitten with.
But the 800-pound gorilla in the supercar market is Ferrari. It might not have been the first Italian company to stick a powerful engine behind the cockpit and wrap it all up in a pretty shape, but 70 years of heritage on and off the racetrack have imbued the brand with unimpeachable credentials. Now that we've finally had a chance to test its 488 GTB, a 661-horsepower (493kW) V8-powered sculpture on wheels, was it worth the wait?
After several attempts to secure a shiny 488 from Ferrari's press fleet, the call finally came early in July. Ferrari had a car for us, with one catch: we had to drive it from its New Jersey headquarters to Lime Rock Park in Connecticut—which would be playing host to the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship—and back. It wasn't a hard choice to make, even taking into account the midnight train we'd need to get back to DC. While at Lime Rock, we'd get a chance to spend some time with the Scuderia Corsa team, currently battling for the championship in IMSA's GTD class—which you can read about in the accompanying article.
I must confess, I was a little apprehensive when we arrived in New Jersey. Driving someone else's supercar is quite a responsibility. There's the hefty price tag; a 488 GTB starts at $245,000, but once the options list got involved the car we drove tipped the scales at $346,739. Then there's the nature of the drive. New York has some very scenic parkways, ideal you'd think for this kind of vehicle, with its flowing turns and good sight lines.
But last year's Focus RS drive earned me a speeding ticket on one such road, an occasion that taught me two valuable lessons: a brightly colored car will stand out like a sore thumb to the highway patrol, and the parkway speed limits are much lower than you think (or the flow of traffic suggests).
And finally, there was the car itself. The 488 has received rave reviews, but often in the context of its behavior on track. For road trips, surely the front-engined California T, 812 Superfast, or FF would be more suitable; those cars are meant to eat the miles, and this one is meant to eat lap times. Denied a chance to strut its stuff on a circuit, could the mid-engined 488 shine while doing mundane things like drive along at the speed limit, carrying two people and their luggage in some degree of comfort?
As it turned out, I needn't have been worried.Read More...
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