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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Road test: 2017 Ferrari 488 GTB

The 488 GTB is maintaining Ferrari's supercar legacy with scarcely a care as to what anybody else thinks

The Ferrari 488 GTB in Abu Dhabi. Delores Johnson / The National
The Ferrari 488 GTB in Abu Dhabi. Delores Johnson / The National

There's a school of thought that supercars are just too civilised nowadays. But progress is necessary, the future is exciting and supercars from the era most people get misty-eyed about broke down with regularity, ate so much fuel that even UAE drivers might start to cold sweat and, more often than not, boasted the kind of performance figures that sporty Audis can trouble nowadays.

What does that all mean for the Ferrari 488 GTB? Well, you’re not likely to do too much damage with the traction control switched on, but with its 3.9-litre V8 booting out 661hp and pushing its lithe kerb weight of 1,475 kilograms to a 0-to-100kph time of three seconds flat, it’s definitely in the supercar realm. And that is backed up by its lack of suitability for the city or any roads with anything approaching a sensible speed limit: cruising feels like wearing a pair of Dh10,000 shoes to go to the supermarket. Unless you’re only popping out for a pint of milk, however, cruise control is a fuel-consumption godsend, if you prefer to avoid a daily competition ­between the amount of meals you eat and the number of petrol-station stops you’re forced to make.

Interestingly for a Dh1.3 million car, moving your seat backwards and forwards requires a manual lever. And when tech does come into play, it isn’t always flawless, such as the awkward positioning of the rear camera’s display next to the rev counter, which gets obscured by the steering wheel if manoeuvring while reversing, or the cruise-control dial’s positioning near the driver’s door. Unsurprisingly, practicalities such as storage space aren’t top priority, either.

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After an extended drive, the flank behind the passenger side wheel arch ends up with sticky ropes of melted tyre flecked across it.

Its raking, skeletal bodywork is almost asking to have little bits broken off should you choose to make this your daily chariot. Its lifting system is 100 per cent necessary for the UAE’s omnipresent speed bumps.

So given all of the above ­evidence, there’s no argument: the 488 GTB is a supercar in the traditional sense. But out on the open road, it’s a pleasure to get that octet of cylinders singing to your tune, doing what all Ferraris are bred to do – and its reassuringly epic brakes make sure the opposite momentum is equally satisfying, via eye-catching yellow calipers on my test car.

Having also recently driven the immense 812 Superfast, I know where my notional lottery winnings would be directed. But the 488 GTB is maintaining the Prancing Horse’s supercar legacy with scarcely a care as to what anybody else thinks about it. And for that, it should be roundly applauded.