Highlights from the Tokyo Motor Show 2019

To parody sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick, do Japanese automakers dream of electric cars?

The answer is a resounding yes. And it is not science fiction either.

At the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, the theme that pervaded the Big Sight and Aomi exhibition grounds was electrification, autonomous and sustainable motoring, led by the top Japanese automakers.

Despite a smaller turnout than previous years, all the major domestic brands unveiled battery and even hydrogen-powered electric vehicles (EVs), readying themselves for a future that is not quite here but is nevertheless inevitable.

Even Mazda, which traditionally tries to boost the efficiency of its internal combustion engines at the expense of developing a pure EV, unveiled its first battery-electric vehicle – the MX-30 crossover.

Electrification aside, carmakers were also all-in on the new industry buzzword: Case, or Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electrified.

That acronym paints a driver-lite future. But will it be car-lite?

At the show, one of the more interesting Case concepts was the Panasonic Space L. It is more of a living room on wheels than a car. Occupants who do not have to keep an eye on the road enjoy aromatherapy and cool transparent displays.

Nissan, meanwhile, high on the success of its best-selling Leaf electric car, unveiled the electric Ariya concept. With huge wheels and ultra-thin headlights, it looks like a car that could go into production at the drop of a hat.

Even the interior, normally an eye-watering bonanza of holographic accoutrements in a concept car, looks practical and workable – with a two-spoke steering wheel and touch controls on the dash. Honda officially launched the battery-driven Honda e and hybrid versions of the new Jazz/Fit.

And Mitsubishi unveiled the quad-motor Mi-Tech electric concept buggy.

But it was Toyota which communicated the new course most dramatically. The world’s biggest vehicle maker now refers to itself as a mobility company. This new direction is spearheaded by the autonomous e-Palette shuttle and Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car.

  • Mitsubishi quad-motor Mi-Tech electric concept buggy
    Mitsubishi quad-motor Mi-Tech electric concept buggy. Photo credit: Mitsubishi
  • Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle
    Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. Photo credit: Toyota
  • Nissan Electric Ariya
    Nissan unveiled the electric Ariya concept at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show. Photo credit: Nissan

Then, there is the LQ concept, which comes with a digital assistant called Yui. It uses artificial intelligence to learn more about you, the driver, and deliver a “personalised mobility experience”. It taps the human instinct to form bonds, Toyota says with a straight face, creating a relationship between driver and vehicle.

Toyota’s luxury arm Lexus also took the opportunity to unveil its plans for the future.

At the unveiling of the LF-30 concept, the brand will launch its first battery-electric vehicle later this month, followed by its first plug-in hybrid and another battery-powered car built on a dedicated electric platform in the early 2020s. The latter could be the first product to emerge from a Toyota-Subaru EV joint venture.

As for the LF-30, it is an angular and futuristic car with a 500km range from a 110kWh solid-state battery driving four in-wheel motors. It is supposed to be driver-focused, yet will drive itself without hesitation when the need arises.

If you feel the future is bleak for drivers who enjoy driving, cars like the MX-30, Ariya and LF-30 are reassuring. For even if the future of motoring is robotic, it is far from boring.

Outlandish or Genius? Elon Musk is adding rocket thrusters to the Tesla Roadster

Tesla sent shockwaves across the automobile industry last year when it surprised everyone by revealing a prototype of the next-generation Roadster. The claimed performance figures of the electric sports car were absolutely crazy. However, Elon Musk took to Twitter to say that those numbers were of the base model and the company will offer more potent variants of the Roadster with even more outlandish performance specs. He followed that up with a cryptic tweet which indicated that the upcoming Tesla performance car will be a rocket for the roads. Nobody read too much into that tweet until the recent Tesla Annual Shareholder Meeting where Elon teased an optional package for the Roadster which is outright crazy. The Tesla Roadster might come with rocket thrusters!

Review: Lisa Jones

Maserati Alfieri – the electric sports car that will take on the Tesla Roadster

Remember the super-sexy two-door Alfieri concept Maserati showcased back in 2014? Back then, the Italian automaker claimed that the production variant will be out by 2016. Constant delays almost threatened the project to be cancelled. However, Maserati boss Tim Kuniskis surprised everyone by announcing at FCA’s Capital Markets Day speech that the Alfieri is finally entering production. And guess what! It’ll be an all-electric sports car rivalling the upcoming Tesla Roadster. Maserati isn’t even hiding its ambition to directly lock horns with the American electric carmaker. “It may look like we are targeting Tesla: we are,” Maserati chief Tim Kuniskis said. “We are going to accomplish this by bringing to market something than no one in the industry can match.”

The Alfieri will available either as a coupe of convertible and will be built on a new lightweight aluminum space frame. The claimed top speed exceeds 186 miles per hour and an acceleration from zero to 62 mph in less than two seconds. The all-electric version will use a three-motor drivetrain with all-wheel drive system offering torque vectoring. It will feature 800V battery technology. There is no word on the pricing as of yet but electric Maserati sports car should enter production by 2020.

Ferrari has built a 488 GTB-based one-off and it looks absolutely stunning

At this year’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este that concluded last weekend, Ferrari unveiled their latest bespoke creation to the public and it’s eye-poppingly gorgeous! Called the SP38 Deborah, the stunner is a part of the Italian carmaker’s One-Off customer program. Each bespoke car built under this program takes about 18 months to create. Ferrari says, the customer – “one of Ferrari’s most dedicated customers” who has a “deep passion for racing” – worked with the Maranello based marque on the car from the outset, collaborating on its design and each individual needs. The SP38 uses the chassis and running-gear from a 488 GTB and the styling is influenced by two of Ferrari iconic models from the past.

The completely new bodywork looks very little like the 488 GTB, the car it’s based on. The front’s styling is inspired by the 308 GTB and is fitted with much narrower headlights. The rear, however, is a nod to one of the greatest Ferraris of all time – the legendary F40 – whose influence Ferrari says can be seen in the rear wing and engine cover. In addition to that, the SP38’s three-layer metallic red paint is also inspired by the Ferrari Halo car from the 1980s. Under the redesigned bodywork, the mechanics are the same as the 488 GTB, with the same twin-turbo 3.9-liter V8. There’s no word on the performance figures of the car, but we expect it to be similar to the standard 488 GTB that does zero to 60mph in 3 seconds and has a top speed of 205mph. And, not-so-surprisingly, Ferrari didn’t comment on the pricing either. Even the owner of the SP38 has wished to remain anonymous and Ferrari would not disclose whether it was the customer’s first one-off.

You can now lease a $2.4M Pagani Huayra hypercar for $25k per month

Leasing a vehicle often is a great option to get yourself a car for a relatively low monthly payment. However, when it’s a $2.4 million Pagani Huayra Roadster in question you get the world’s most expensive car lease ever. Putnam Leasing, a company that specializes in leases for exotic vehicles, has come up with a new lease deal can put you behind the wheel of a rare convertible Huayra for just $25,339 a month for 60 months. That totals to $1,520,340 in monthly payments, which might sound like the deal of the century. But, first you’ll have to put in a deposit of $700,000 to get your hands on the hypercar – taking the total investment to more than $2.2 million.

The whole deal might sound a little crazy, but if you carefully do the math you’ll realize it’s not bad at all. Firstly, such exotic cars have waiting period in years when bought new, and usually they sell for a lot more than their sticker price in used market. Then, as the leasing company points out, the monthly payment can be shown as business expense which qualifies for a tax write-off. Plus, this agreement lets the purchaser transfer the contract to a different vehicle at any time without a penalty. To make the deal even sweeter, the leasing company says that if the car increases in value by the end of the lease term, the lessee gets the difference between the sale price and the predicted residual value. That not a bad way at all to get yourself one of the 100 Huayra Roadsters in the world powered by a twin-turbo AMG V12 engine putting out 752 horsepower.

Review: Robert Nilson

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT S Roadster revealed with 515 horsepower on tap

To plug the gap between the 469 horsepower AMG GT and the 549 horsepower GT C roadster models, Mercedes has introduced a third convertible variant of the German carmaker’s two-seat sports car. The Mercedes-AMG GT S is no longer only available in the coupe version; now you can get a roadster version with 515 horses under the hood. The S-spec AMG GT uses the same 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 as its siblings. The power is sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. According to Mercedes, the GT S Roadster can do 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 192 mph.

The GT S Roadster comes standard with adaptive dampers and an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. However, buyers have the option to pick the AMG Dynamic Plus package, which brings firmer suspension, active engine mount and quicker-responding steering. Like the other AMG GT roadster models, the GT S gets a power-folding fabric top along with Airscarf neck-level heating system and ventilated seats. Nappa leather upholstery and carbon fiber interior trim are available as option extras. The Mercedes-AMG GT S Roadster will the hit the American market later this year; but the German marque is yet to announce the price.


Rolls Royce Cullinan the uber luxurious SUV is finally here

After months of teasers and spy shots of camouflaged mule flooding the internet, the hotly anticipated Rolls-Royce SUV is finally here. Meet the Roll-Royce Cullinan, the British luxury carmaker’s first ever SUV in its 112-year long history. With a starting price of $320,000, it is the most expensive and most lavishly appointed utility ever built. It was three years ago when CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos announced that Rolls-Royce was planning an SUV, following requests from buyers who asked for a high-bodied alternative to the Phantom with similar luxury quotient. “Our answer to history, to the visionaries, adventurers, explorers and those who believe in the supremacy of liberty is the Cullinan,” he said at the launch.

Named appropriately after the world’s largest raw diamond, which was found in South Africa over a century ago, The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is the second model in the carmaker’s line-up to be built on it’s all-aluminum “architecture of luxury,” with the recently unveiled Phantom VIII being the first one. Designed from the ground up, it uses components reconfigured into a spaceframe, which should deliver “extraordinary car body stiffness for exceptional ‘best-in-class’ functional performance.” The new Phantom’s spaceframe is already 30% stiffer that its predecessor’s, and the Cullinan is even more stiffer.

The Cullinan comes fitted with an self-leveling, adapted version of the computer-controlled self-levelling air shocks Rolls-Royce uses on its other models. The system makes millions of calculations every second to adapt itself to the road. As compared to the new Phantom, it is shorter by over 400 mm and higher by nearly 200mm; yet, it’s quite large in comparison to Bentley Bentayga. It is powered by a 6.75-liter, twin-turbocharged V12 engine, which produces 562 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. The power is sent to all four wheels through a ZF automatic gearbox. The top speed of the Rolls-Royce SUV is electronically limited at 155 miles per hour. “Today we are setting a new standard by creating a new class of motoring and motor car for customers who are well-connected, highly mobile and have a global perspective,” said Peter Schwarzenbauer, chair of Rolls-Royce and member of the board of BMW Group. “They want a new type of motor car that gives them unbounded access in ultimate luxury.” The Cullinan will arrive in the US at the beginning on next year.

Review sponsored by Rolls Royce Motors

Jaguar celebrates 50 years of its XJ sedan with a special edition

Jaguar is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the launch of its premium XJ saloon this year. To commemorate this momentous occasion the British marque has taken the wraps off a special-edition model called the XJ50. Unveiled at the Beijing motor show in both short- and long-wheelbase forms, the visual elements that separate the XJ50 from the standard model include unique front and rear bumpers, a gloss black grille, special badges on the side vents, along with 20-inch alloy wheels with a gloss black diamond turned finish. The special edition will be available in four colors: Rosello Red, Santorini Black, Fuji White, and Loire Blue.

Inside the cabin, the XJ50 is fitted with special touches like an XJ50 logo on the front center armrest, illuminated XJ50-branded treadplates, diamond quilted seats with the Jaguar leaper logo on the headrests and aluminum shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel. In the UK, the special edition XJ50 will be available in both short- as well as long-wheelbase versions. Both models are powered by a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 producing 296 horsepower. However, the US version will only be available as a long-wheelbase model with the choice of either a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 good for 340hp or a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 with 470hp. “This is a car worth celebrating and the XJ50 pays homage to a giant within the Jaguar brand that we believe is one of the world’s most stylish sporting saloons,” said Ian Callum, Jaguar Director of Design. Jaguar hasn’t resealed the US pricing yet.

Clad in diamonds, titanium and carbon fiber – Rolls Royce unveils its most exclusive collection yet

The Rolls-Royce Black Badge models are the sinister-looking counterparts of the standard variants specially created for those looking for thrill behind the wheel while being cocooned in ultimate luxury. The British marque has introduced a new collection of special edition models, called the Adamas Collection, which is based on the on Black Badge editions of the Rolls-Royce Dawn and Wraith. The collection takes its name from a word that means ‘untamable’, ‘invincible’ and also ‘diamond.’ Rolls-Royce describes the Adamas Collection as a celebration of the “darker side of contemporary craftsmanship.” Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce, commented, “Adamas is a Collection that fuses the extraordinary competence of our Bespoke craftspeople from the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, West Sussex, with the rebellious spirit of Black Badge. The result is a motor car for those who seek more than the definitive of engineered luxury conveyance. This is a motor car for the risk-taker who is not afraid to embrace a bold and progressive statement of true and modern luxury, in its darkest form.”

Consisting of 40 Black Badge Wraiths and 30 Black Badge Dawns, the most eye-catching feature is the carbon fiber Spirit of Ecstasy, which takes 68 hours to manufacture. The figure is engineered from 294 layers of aerospace grade carbon fiber that resides on a specially created titanium base, vapor blasted to adopt a darkened aesthetic, bearing the words ‘BLACK BADGE ADAMAS’, and the infinity logo. On the outside, there are two exterior paint finishes available, each sporting a two-tone combination. The Aphrodite Red is a combination of red and black, and there’s Morpheus Blue, which combines blue with red. According to luxury automaker, the two shades create an iridescent effect, emphasized in part by a deep color transition that extends throughout the body of the car.

On the inside, the dash-mounted clock is encrusted with 88 laboratory-grown diamonds arranged in a Black Badge infinity symbol mounted on a carbon-fiber back plate. The famous starlight headliner now features 1,340 individual fiber-optic lights arranged in a shape of the molecular structure of carbon in a diamond crystal. Two-tone steering wheel, woven black leather on the transmission tunnel and door bins, and special sill plates round up the special touches inside the cabin.

Review: Editorial

The Ferrari 488 Pista: the synthesis of extreme, track-level power and driving exhilaration for the road

The Ferrari 488 Pista is powered by the most powerful V8 engine in the Maranello marque’s history and is the company’s special series sports car with the highest level yet of technological transfer from racing. In fact the name, meaning ‘track’ in Italian, was chosen specifically to testify to Ferrari’s unparalleled heritage in motor sports.

Technically, the Ferrari 488 Pista encompasses all of the experience built up on the world’s circuits by the 488 Challenge and the 488 GTE. For over 25 years, Maranello has been organising the most prestigious of all one-make championships, the Ferrari Challenge, in which over 100 drivers split into three continental series do battle at the wheel. Last year saw the introduction of the 488 Challenge, the first model in the series to be equipped with a turbo engine. The Ferrari 488 GTE is instead the car fielded in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the pinnacle of GT racing, where it has won two consecutive GT Manufacturers’ titles and no less than five titles in total since the championship’s inception in 2012. Thanks to wins in both the Pro and Am categories, the 488 GTE has taken no fewer than 35 out of the 50 races run to date.

The new car’s engine adopts numerous solutions from that of the 488 Challenge and its power output has been increased to 720 cv. It is also lighter, thanks to new titanium con-rods and carbon-fibre intake plenums. The inverted radiator cooling system is also derived from the Challenge with the radiators raked rearwards (rather forwards as in the 488 GTB), improving cooling and maintaining optimal performance levels even in high thermal stress situations.

The car’s aerodynamics are derived from both the 488 GTE and from Formula 1, specifically the S-Duct at its front, the rear spoiler and diffuser profiles which boost efficiency by  20% compared to the 488 GTB. Other solutions have been carried over from the track to shave off further weight, including the lithium battery (from the  488 Challenge) and also the new carbon-fibre wheel rims – a first for Ferrari. The overall result is that the 488 Pista is an impressive 90 kg lighter than the 488 GTB.

As with the three previous special series, the Challenge Stradale, 430 Scuderia and 458 Speciale, this new berlinetta is the perfect marriage of extreme performance and track car-style handling.

The vehicle dynamics were designed for unique driving feedback and to make the car’s full potential available to all drivers, professional or otherwise. Specific vehicle controls were developed with this in mind, first and foremost being a new oversteer management system usable in the manettino’s CT-OFF position and designed to make the car’s performance on the limit easier to reach and control.

A new gear-shift strategy in the RACE position delivers a far more sporty experience, very similar to that of a track car. In other words, the Ferrari 488 Pista offers drivers of all abilities an exceptional and exhilarating experience that normally only a competition car could deliver, setting a whole new benchmark in terms of driving pleasure for the Ferrari range.

The Ferrari 488 Pista’s extreme design is underlined by the optional livery that highlights the aerodynamic innovation of the S-Duct. The car’s lines were developed to underscore its sporty soul and cleverly combine the purity of the 488 GTB with some of the hugely successful racing and functional elements of the 488 GTE and 488 Challenge while staying true to Ferrari’s traditional styling.


The  Ferrari 488 Pista can punch out 720 cv at 8000 rpm, giving it the best specific power output in its class  at 185 cv/l, while torque is higher at all engine speeds, peaking at 770 Nm (10 Nm more than the 488 GTB). An extreme evolution of the turbo engine elected overall International Engine of the Year in both 2016 and 2017, this is the most powerful V8 in Ferrari history.

The 50 cv power increase over the 488 GTB’s engine is also the largest ever leap in engine power for a Ferrari special series car and a remarkable 115 cv more than the previous model, the 458 Speciale. In short, this V8 is the new benchmark not only for turbo-charged power units, but for all engines.

The development of this sportier version of the 488 GTB thus presented Ferrari’s engineers with the highly complex challenge of improving on what was already acknowledged as the world’s best engine. To do so, they had to test out a string of leading-edge solutions, drawing on Ferrari’s successful experience in the competition world. The result is that the Ferrari 488 Pista’s engine has over 50% of new components compared to that of the 488 GTB.

The Ferrari 488 Pista also fully exploits new features developed for the 488 Challenge, not least the engine air intake layout with the intakes moved from the flanks to the rear spoiler area where they are connected directly to the plenums. This drastically reduces fluid-dynamic load losses and ensures a higher volume and cleaner flow of air to the engine, thereby contributing to the increase in power.

Moving the air intakes from the sides to the rear also freed up space for a larger intercooler. Thanks to a cooling layout derived from the 488 Challenge and featuring radiators with an inverted rake so that they are inclined towards the rear, the hot air flow is channelled to below the flanks, well away from the side intakes for the intercooler. This guarantees that power is maintained even in critical situations, such as in the wake of another car.

Specific valves and springs combined with a new cam profile give this engine a more aggressive, racing character. The pistons and cylinder heads have been strengthened to cope with the higher loads – up to an extra 10% of pressure in the combustion chambers. Particular attention was also focused on reducing internal friction by introducing, for example, DLC-coated piston pins.

The Ferrari 488 Pista’s engine also benefits from all the lightweight components featured on the Challenge version, resulting in a weight reduction of 18 kg compared to the 488 GTB. The exhaust manifolds are now made from  Inconel while the crankshaft and flywheel are both lighter too. Titanium con-rods have also been introduced and the reductions in the weight of the rotating masses cut inertia by 17%. Drivers feel the impact of these reductions very clearly as the driver can see the revs increasing much more rapidly.

The 488 Challenge also provides the turbos with integrated rev sensors. Response times are instantaneous and even faster than the 488 GTB thanks to a new control strategy developed specifically for this model. A new pedal map also makes driving on the limit even easier.

Lastly, the Ferrari 488 Pista’s engine sound is unique and unmistakable, as such a special version of the Ferrari V8 sports car warrants. The new Inconel exhaust manifolds and an optimised exhaust bypass logic contribute to the superior quality and the intensity. The level of sound is also  higher than the 488 GTB in all gears and at all engine speeds, up to a maximum of 8 dB more, in proportion with the progressive increase in power.


The sporty driving feedback is further enhanced by the high-performance gear shifting, typical of a thoroughbred race car. The new gear shift strategy, available in the manettino’s RACE position, reduces shifting times by 30 ms with positive acceleration when the higher gear engages that the driver can feel distinctly.

This model also adopts the hugely successful Ferrari Variable Torque Management strategy for all gears. To adapt it to the car’s extreme sporty spirit, all of the curves were redesigned to deliver a feeling of consistently smooth, powerful acceleration all the way to the red line.


The aim of the Ferrari 488 Pista’s dynamic development was to produce a car that offers blistering mechanical performance in terms of lap times and standing starts, driving pleasure and accessibility of performance to drivers of all types.

To achieve these objectives, Ferrari’s engineers had to work on several fronts, starting with introducing numerous lightweight solutions as well as evolving both a new generation of the Side Slip Control System (SSC 6.0), improving the efficiency of the braking system and developing a new specific tyre, the Michelin Sport Cup 2.

The Ferrari 488 Pista is 90 kg lighter than the 488 GTB, which brings huge advantages in terms of its agility and responsiveness. To maximise on this, the weight reductions are concentrated in the most weight-sensitive areas of the car, such as the unsprung masses and components away from the car’s centre of gravity.

The bodyshell was designed to keep the car as light as possible and features ultralight materials such as carbon-fibre for the engine cover, the front and rear bumpers and the rear spoiler, and Lexan for the rear window.

This is also the first time that a 20” (optional) single-piece carbon-fibre wheel rim has been used in the Ferrari range. Entirely in carbon-fibre, it is around 40% lighter than the 488 GTB’s standard wheel rims and features a special coating developed for the aerospace industry to the channel and spokes which efficiently dissipates heat generated under braking.

The evolution of the Ferrari 488 Pista’s dynamic vehicle control systems saw the introduction of a new actuation system that flanks those featured on the 488 GTB and is integrated into the new version 6.0 of the SSC concept.

The 488 Pista also hails another first for a Ferrari road car – a lateral dynamics control system that uses Ferrari software to adjust the brake pressure at the callipers. The Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer (FDE) is available when the manettino is in the “CT-OFF” position. It regulates the lateral dynamics variables, including side slip angle estimation.  The control system intervenes in advance, lightly actuating the callipers through, and exiting corners.

As a result the system manages the evolution of the side slip angle, making control of the lateral dynamics in high performance situations more intuitive, controllable and predictable. So it is not a stability control system, but a maximum performance-focused system.

The introduction of the Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer into the integrated SSC 6.0 system thus gives drivers extra confidence so that they can more easily handle even lengthy oversteer situations. It also makes performance on the limit easier to reach and control even for less expert drivers.

The Ferrari 488 Pista is extremely efficient in dealing with rapid changes of direction and offers drivers a unique sense of predictability. The recalibrated SCM-E dampers and the 10% stiffer springs contribute to this improved handling precision.

As the Ferrari 488 Pista was developed for mostly road use but also to unleash impressive performance on the track, the braking system was modified to improve cooling, particularly under extreme use, and also to cut the time it takes to get up to temperature.  The 488 Challenge’s brake servo was adopted to enhance the sporty pedal feel and deliver smooth, consistent braking even in extreme conditions.

These interventions, combined with the lightweight solutions adopted, have shortened the 200-0 km/h stopping distance by a metre compared to the 488 GTB.


In-depth aerodynamics research played a big part in improving the Ferrari 488 Pista’s performance. Working on a concept focused on uncompromising innovation allowed considerable engineering freedom in developing significant solutions. The already-exceptional aerodynamic efficiency of the 488 GTB has been improved by 20%, with major benefits in terms of absolute speed and lap times on medium-fast tracks as well as sheer fun behind the wheel.

Essential to the development of the Ferrari 488 Pista’s aerodynamics was the wealth of knowledge Ferrari has built up on previous and parallel projects where the aerodynamics department was able to test new and efficient solutions, integrating ideas developed for the 488 Challenge and the 488 GTE.

The 488 Pista’s V8 turbo punches out 50 cv more than the car on which it is based, thanks in part to a reduction of almost 15° C in the temperature of the air entering the plenum with respect to the 488 GTB. The development of the thermo-fluid dynamics consequently focused on the powertrain cooling specifics, to minimise any impact on pure aerodynamic performance.

To guarantee the kind of performance demanded of the powertrain, the intercooler required an increase of over 25% in size compared to that of the 488 GTB. In order to minimise the increase in weight and drag associated with such a large radiating surface, the engineers worked intensively on the car as a whole to improve efficiency, limiting the increase required in surface area to just 7%. The main contributing factors to the improved intercooler efficiency were the radical layout choices made at the front of the car.

The front radiator arrangement was completely redesigned to minimise interference caused by the thermal boundary layer, introduced by the hot air flow coming off the front radiators, with the air flow entering the intercooler intake. As with 488 Challenge, the rake of the radiators has been inverted and they are now inclined towards the rear to direct the hot air to the underbody ahead of the front wheels.

This choice produced, on the one hand, an improvement of 10% in the performance of the rear intercoolers, and, on the other, an additional aerodynamic benefit: the virtual fairing of the exposed area of the tyre cuts the car’s drag by 7%.

The engine air intakes have been moved from the flanks – the solution adopted on the 488 GTB – to the rear spoiler as per the 488 Challenge.  The specific shape of the spoiler delivers powerful recompression which guarantees the engine air intake benefits from high dynamic pressure, shortening the length of the inlet duct, reducing consequent losses and boosting engine performance.

The need for efficient downforce resulted in the whole of the front of the car being completely redesigned, particularly the bumpers and bonnet. One innovative Formula 1-derived solution in particular stands out: the S-Duct, which is being used for the very first time on a road car. The air from the intake on the front bumper passes through an aerodynamic duct with calibrated sections and exits through a vent on the bonnet, creating downward force over the front axle.

Furthermore, the front intake is completed by a central lower wing profile that, on the one hand, acts as a splitter which, thanks to its curvature, accelerates the flow and increases the amount of air passing through the S-Duct, thus improving its performance while, on the other hand, creating a low pressure area under the front underbody thanks to the acceleration of the flow generated on its lower surface, further boosting downforce.

This introduction of this particular solution accounts for 18% of the overall increase in downforce compared to the 488 GTB, but barely a 2% increase in drag.

The exterior sections of the bumper ahead of the wheels were also extensively redesigned with solutions modified from the 488 Challenge and reinterpreted so successfully that they are responsible for 23% of the increase in downforce compared to the 488 GTB. Radical scoops in the front bumper allow aerodynamic elements to protrude in areas where they can be most efficient.   The volume of the front bumper extends towards the wheelarch to deflect the flow ahead of the wheels outwards, generating suction from the wheelarch and thus from the front underbody, which is equipped with diffusers, all to the benefit of front downforce.

At the rear, two elements contributed to the achievement of the downforce target: the blown spoiler system and the venting behind the rear wheels.

The spoiler is higher (+30 mm) and longer (+40 mm) compared to the spoiler on the standard production car. Development work focused on the efficiency of the bleed under the spoiler to adapt it to the change in the car’s overall downforce. The calibrated sections have been optimised and the direction in which the air is blown has been modified: the angle is now upward, aided by the deflection of the flow by the upper surfaces of the spoiler, to generate even more rear downforce. The evolution of the spoiler system and its bleed has had a significant impact on downforce, accounting for 25% of the overall increase compared to the 488 GTB.

The increase in drag caused by the new blown spoiler system is compensated for by the shape of the air flows venting from the rear bumper below the tail lights. Furthermore, the vents have been optimised to exploit the pressure field generated by the spoiler to encourage evacuation from the rear wheelarches, increasing intercooler efficiency by 3%, on the one hand, and incorporating the wake from the wheels on the other, allowing the diffuser to be struck by a cleaner, more energised flow, boosting the rear downforce it generates.

As is always the case with each new Ferrari, the 488 Pista’s underbody has been specifically redesigned to ensure it delivers as efficient a Cl figure as possible. The first big difference compared to the 488 GTB is how the hot air from the radiators is deflected to the underbody ahead of the front wheels. This choice, made to enhance the cooling layout and lower the car’s drag coefficient, however shrinks the surfaces that can be used to generate downforce. To make up for this and further boost downforce, the designers decided to exploit other areas of the underbody.

The Ferrari 488 Pista was thus equipped with front diffusers, made possible by the change in the inclination of the front radiators and the elimination of the dams ahead of the wheels. Thanks to a ramp already optimised for the 488 GTE, the diffusers accelerate the flow, venting it into the wheelarches, creating strong suction that in turn is responsible for 12% of the overall downforce increase compared to the 488 GTB.

The vortex generators on the underbody have also been optimised and now generate 20% more downforce, thanks to modifications to their profile and length.

The rear diffuser is also derived directly from Ferrari’s World Endurance Championship experience and has the same double kink line as the 488 GTE’s, amplifying the extraction and downforce generation capacities of a traditional diffuser. As in the 488 GTB, the diffuser is equipped with a system of 3 active flaps which rotate 14° in minimum drag configuration to completely stall the diffuser and thus significantly reduce the car’s drag.



Aerodynamic demands guided the work of the Ferrari Design Centre team. The 488 Pista’s forms have been meticulously sculpted to ensure they are more performance-oriented than ever, with huge attention lavished ensuring that while aerodynamic demands were met, the Maranello marque’s signature styling elements and aesthetic canons were respected.

The designers used innovative elements, such as the aerodynamic S-Duct at the front, as an opportunity to visually shorten the car’s nose, creating an original floating wing effect. The black, omega-shaped edging on the front bumpers and the side flicks reference the prominent aerodynamic underbody motif of the 488 GTE.

Most notable on the flanks is the fact that the splitter in the side air intakes of the 488 GTB has been removed. At the front, the aerodynamic profiles that start at the front bumpers run sleekly along the side miniskirts all the way to the side appendages of the rear diffuser.

The concept of the front is echoed in the dolphin-tail rear spoiler which appears suspended to provide an impression lightness and efficiency, while the rear volumes add a sense of power to the tail. The rear diffuser juts out and has been developed in width: its design was inspired by that of the 488 GTE.

The Ferrari 488 Pista features a two-tone livery that runs the entire length of the car, starting at the front bumper, then diving into the S-Duct and continuing all the way to the rear spoiler.


The interior has a distinctive racing feel with all superfluous elements eliminated. The extensive use of lightweight, exclusive technical materials such as carbon-fibre and Alcantara works brilliantly with the meticulous crafting and sophistication that is the signature of all Ferrari cockpits. Contrasting hand-stitching, tread plates and heel rests in triangular pattern aluminium and particularly fluidly sculpted door panels are fine examples of this.

The glove compartment (normally incorporated into the dashboard directly in front of the passenger) has been removed and replaced by handy storage pockets on the rear bench and the doors. The effect is to significantly visually slim down the volume of the under-dash area.

Review: Gigi Morelli