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Ferrari’s turbocharged 488 GTB wails with 660 horsepower

The Ferrari 458 Italia is the yardstick by which other supercars are measured, but it won’t stay that way if it can’t evolve.

Set to be unveiled at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show next month, the Ferrari 488 GTB is that long-awaited evolution of the 458. It’s a mid-cycle refresh of the current car, but that term sounds too mundane for this machine.

The updated model gets a GTB suffix (short for Gran Turismo Berlinetta) to tie it to Ferrari’s first production mid-engined V8 car, the 308 GTB. However, that’s not as important as the number 488.

That indicates a new engine, but it doesn’t displace 4.8 liters as the name suggests. Instead, it’s an all-new twin-turbocharged 3.9-liter V8 that isn’t shared with any other Ferrari model.

There’s been a lot of speculation about a turbocharged 458 derivative, but none of it anticipated this engine’s raw power. It produces 660 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque. That’s more than the 597 hp and 398 lb-ft of the outgoing 458 Speciale!

All of that grunt will accelerate the 488 GTB from 0 to 62 mph in just 3.0 seconds, and on to a top speed of over 205 mph. It will also lap Ferrari’s Fiorano test track half a second quicker than the hardcore 458 Speciale.

That acceleration is managed by a seven-speed dual-lurch transmission and a chassis Ferrari says has been tuned with lessons learned from the XX program of track cars like the Enzo-based FXX.

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The original 458 styling is still recognizable, but Ferrari claims 50 percent more downforce for the new model, with less drag. That’s thanks to a double front spoiler, the enlarged side pods, and a flat underbody.

To help drivers harness all of that performance, the 488 GTB is equipped with the latest Ferrari electronic aids.

That includes a version of the slip-angle control system that debuted in the 458 Speciale. Called Side Slip Control 2, it’s supposed to be less invasive than the original system, and works with the car’s F1-Trac traction control E-Diff differential, and adaptive suspension.

The interior gets some updates, but the layout is the same as in the 458.

The gauge cluster has a single massive tachometer with inset digital speedometer flanked by two information screens, while the steering wheel is covered in buttons, including the “manettino” switch used to adjust the car’s various performance settings.

The Ferrari 488 GTB debuts at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show in March. We can’t wait to see how supercars like the Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4 and McLaren 650S measure up.