It’s hard to not be flattered by the 488 Pista. A beautiful design, carbon fiber everywhere, and the most attractive feature of all: a racing stripe. Many of my readers will know about my particular love for racing stripes, but since this is an official road test, I fear I have to be a bit more thorough in my description of the car. So, without further adieu, here are my complete thoughts on the Ferrari 488 Pista.
To be perfectly honest, I was a bit stumped on what to write in order to succinctly summarize my experience driving the Pista. When I first heard that the Pista is a track hardened version of the 488 GTB, I drew this mental picture of a savage racing machine. I imagined that driving the Pista at its limit would be a daunting experience that forced me to learn how to be at one with the car. Instead, I was left a bit disappointed. I’m not saying that the Pista is slow because it certainly does have the technical capability to post quick lap times. However, from the perspective of how the car feels, the Pista was never able to convince me that it possesses a fierce personality. So, before I get myself into trouble with more sacrilegious commentary, let me give you some technical information.
The Pista utilizes a 3.9L twin-turbo V8 engine that borrows many components from the 488 Challenge variant, meaning that it can now produce 710 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque. The car also has a lighting quick seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that is paired with carbon fiber paddle shifters mounted directly onto the dashboard. All of this means that the Pista can accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 2.7 seconds and hit a top speed of 211 mph. As I said, the engine comes with two turbochargers, but you still get a nice soulful sound to remind you that you’re in a Ferrari. No matter what gear you’re in, the accelerator is always very responsive and you get plenty of pickup. The brakes are also extremely stiff. This is perhaps the one blatant reminder that you’re still in a track car.
Beyond tuning the engine, there are various aerodynamic features that Ferrari has added to improve the overall balance. Behind the nose, there is a massive S-duct that redirects air over the car and provides more front-end downforce. In order to retain the simple shape and prevent an ungainly aesthetic, Ferrari additionally implemented a dolphin-tail spoiler that has been seamlessly sculpted into the bodywork. Even the GTE-style diffuser has been heightened and elongated to optimize performance. The net effect of these changes is that the Pista has a 20% increase in downforce levels compared to the original 488 GTB.
On paper, all of these technical features that I just described suggest an aggressive, track-focused car. However, in my experience, the Pista felt like a forgiving and easy car to drive. It didn’t feel like a car that knew exactly what it wanted to be. To be fair, I didn’t experience this car in its true environment: the track. However, I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that many Pista owners will spend a majority of their time driving the car on public roads. Some may want to argue that the Pista’s versatility is a positive, but if what you really want is practicality and adaptability, why exactly are you be shopping for a track car in the first place?
In many ways, the styling of the Pista complements this paradoxical character that I described in the previous section. It is once again a case of aggressive details mixed with a more subtle overview. In between the rear wheel arch and rear spoiler you can notice fins made out of carbon fiber. The diffuser has airfoil-shaped endplates. Even the rear brake light design is reminiscent of those found on an F1 car. However, when you take a step back, you see a body made up of gentle proportions. I am in no way calling this car ugly. Even I wouldn’t dare label the Pista as anything other than beautiful. But the Pista’s design is so elegant and refined that it just seems hard to believe that it’s supposed to be a track car. Weirdly enough, it might be too pretty for its own good. So while this area of criticism may seem relatively straightforward, I think it only adds to the car’s mixed personality.
This is the one area of criticism where I can unequivocally agree with the rest of the internet. The interior is quite poor. The wheel has too many buttons on it and all of them seem to be in the wrong place. The indicators aren’t stalks but instead buttons on the wheel. The rev counter is in the middle of the gauge cluster which means that the speedometer is on the right and out of sight. The AC control board also looks like it came straight out of a Toyota Corolla from the early 2000s. I can deal with the fact that the interior doesn’t work ergonomically. What really annoys me, however, is that the cabin isn’t an exciting place to be. In a special edition Ferrari that costs more than my house, it should feel special to sit inside a Pista, and I’m afraid it simply doesn’t.
Since this is a limited edition Ferrari, the price tag on a Pista is pretty hefty. The MSRP for this particular Pista was just over $400,000 but thanks to an inflated market and just a general desire for these cars I’ve found low mileage listings for close to three-quarters of a million dollars. A Pista will probably cost you more than a special edition Huracan or McLaren 720S, but then again, you are buying a Ferrari for the badge. So despite everything I’ve been saying, it looks like the market likes the Pista a lot more than I do.
For me, the 488 Pista was such a difficult car to review. These past few days I’ve kept going back and forth trying to define what this car is all about, and unfortunately, I think that’s its biggest problem. I feel bad about being so harsh because the Pista is one of those cars that I really wanted to like. However, I just can’t find a way to put a positive spin on this car’s lack of focus. When I drive a track-specific variant, I want it to feel like a track-specific variant 100% of the time. Otherwise, I don’t really get the point of paying all that extra money in the first place.
At the end of the day, you still can find some enjoyment driving the Pista. Like with most fast cars, you can keep yourself entertained all day long just by mashing the throttle, but I was hoping that the Pista would be a bit more than that. I was looking for a true driver’s car that could show a bit of passion and emotion while still appealing to the serious driver. However, in the end, that was not my experience. So this might be a slightly unpopular and unexpected take on the Ferrari 488 Pista, but I think this car was a bit of a missed opportunity.
If you’re Italian and think everything that you have just read is complete rubbish, I understand that you might want to leave a particularly nasty comment. However, I just want to reiterate that these are all my own opinions and that there are certainly many professional reviewers out there who would disagree with every word I just wrote.
“Ferrari 488 – Wikipedia”. En.Wikipedia.Org, 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrari_488. Accessed 3 Aug 2021.
“Ferrari 488 Pista – Ferrari.Com”. Ferrari.Com, 2021, https://www.ferrari.com/en-US/auto/ferrari-488-pista. Accessed 3 Aug 2021.