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photos courtesy Ferrari

The relatively new sports car from Ferrari, the 488, comes in various versions. Besides the coupe edition, there is a Spider model with a powered retractable hardtop. Styling says Ferrari in every way. Super-low, with a wide, near-to-the-ground grille and smooth lines all the way back are the obvious traits. But on the sides, behind the doors, are two large vents to help with airflow to the engine and other areas. For the gear heads of the world, the mid-mounted engine is clearly visible under the rear window. Huge alloy wheels show off the yellow brake calipers. In a word, this is a beautiful car, and many Honolulu residents gawked, waved or gave a shaka sign upon seeing it.

As one would hope and expect, this is a true sports car with super performance feats and features. A twin-turbocharged, 3.9-liter V-8 producing 661 horsepower comes with the standard model. In the Pista version, the power jumps to 710 horses. And you can forget about the old clutch pedal and gear lever because the sole transmission is a dualclutch automatic, seven-speed unit. In the “regular” version, the zero-to-60 time is a mere 3 seconds with a top speed of 205 mph. Stepping up to Pista choice, the zero-to-60 time drops to 2.7 seconds and top speed jumps to 211 miles per hour.

Leather is in every nook and cranny of the interior. Two cross-stitched, relatively high bolstered seats greet the driver and passenger. Rather surprising in this low-rider sports car, room is generally good. In the center console are series of buttons to activate the transmission choices. Unlike most of the automotive world, the engine start button is on the steer- ing wheel along with a small switch to pick your driving modes: race, sport, wet, etc. Using this switch changes the suspension settings and gearshift shift speeds among other items. A relatively simple dual automatic climate system handles the cooling requirements. And in keeping with the sports car motif, a big tachometer is in the center of the dash pod with a couple smaller video screens on either side, displaying graphically the suspension and engine interactions and the radio action. Interesting, another button on the dash can lift or lower the car to deal with clearance and other similar issues.

Pressing the start button results in a very deep, throaty V-8 exhaust note. For the routine drive, the trans- mission automatically and quickly shifts without any direct input from the driver. However, most drivers of this car will want to control their own destiny by shifting the gears them- selves. This is made very easy with super large paddles behind the steer- ing wheel. And there is no way the old clutch gear lever setup could change the gears as fast as the double clutch automatic does. Acceleration, in a couple of words, is simply breathtaking no matter when or where. There is no hesitation or turbo lag when pressing the accelerator. The ride is clearly taut without being unduly harsh and, of course, can handle any corner at super speeds. Steering is tight and direct. Super carbon ceramic brakes take care of all the stopping needs with ease.

With this update, Ferrari continues its super sports car agenda. Performance combined with phenomenal exterior and interior looks are simply hard to beat.

FERRARI 488 GTB

MODEL: TWO-SEATER, MID-ENGINE SPORTS CAR
POWERTRAIN: 3.9-LITER, V8 PRODUCING 661 HORSEPOWER, DUAL-CLUTCH, AUTOMATIC SEVEN-SPEED UNIT
PERFORMANCE: 3 SECONDS WITH A TOP SPEED OF 205 MPH. PISTA 0-60: 2.7 SECONDS WITH A TOP SPEED OF 211 MPH.
PRICE: $252,800 (BASE). AS TESTED: $306,110