What it is: Proof of the glorious insecurity that motivates the Maranello folk. The 488GTB already leads its segment in both speed and excitement, but the forthcoming stripped-and whipped version will be even quicker and more thrilling. Its predecessors have been named Speciale, Scuderia, and Challenge Stradale, but we’re predicting l’ultimo 488 will carry a different suffix.
Why it matters: Ferrari would never admit it, but the arrival of McLaren has triggered an arms race among supercar makers, and the track-tuned 488’s mission is to better the upcoming McLaren 720S in all respects. The regular 488 is already quicker than the previous 458 Speciale, so it’s a fair bet that the new car, following Ferrari’s recent form, will be truly spectacular.
Platform: It sits on the same aluminum spaceframe as the regular 488, although we can safely predict that Ferrari will shave considerable mass through the use of lightweight materials. If previous Speciales are any indication, it will be at least 200 pounds lighter than the base car thanks to extensive carbonization and the sort of extreme stripping normally reserved for gentlemen’s clubs.
Powertrain: This is where it gets interesting—finding out what Ferrari can extract from the 488GTB’s twin-turbocharged 3.9-liter V-8 when the volume is turned up to 11. The last Speciale had 35 more horsepower than the regular 458. Turbos offer the chance to extend that margin greatly, although Ferrari will be keen to retain the regular engine’s drivability. The software will be as important as the hardware, with far more aggressive settings expected for the suspension, powertrain, and stability-control system.
Competition: The forthcoming Lamborghini Huracán Performante is aimed at a similar target audience: those for whom regular supercars just aren’t super enough. What might go wrong: Ferrari doesn’t fumble much these days, but the most obvious challenge is making sure the engine stays as tractable and progressive as it is in the regular 488.
Estimated arrival and price: The predictable cadence of Ferrari’s model plans means we should see the 488 Speciale at the Geneva show this year, going on sale as a 2018 model. The company knows it can charge a substantial premium for its rarest cuts of meat, so don’t be surprised to find it’s up to $100,000 more expensive than the 488GTB—somewhere in the mid-$300,000s for starters.