LIKE BORG and McEnroe, Prost and Senna, and India and Pakistan, one of the greatest rivalries between sports car makers has been reignited, after both Ferrari and Porsche took the wraps off new high-performance flagships on the same day.
The new Ferrari 488 Pista and Porsche 911 GT3 RS follow in the tyre tracks of some of the most desirable performance cars ever to lap a race track or tackle a twisting Alpine pass.
They represent the pinnacle of engineering know-how when it comes to making cars as fast and thrilling as possible.
To see how the newcomers compare, we look at the ingredients that go into ensuring these limited edition sports cars are at the top of the game.
Ferrari’s best boffins have been hard at work on the Pista version of the 488. The stylists and aerodynamicists have updated the bodywork using the front and rear diffusers from the 488 GTE racing car – which competes at events such as the Le Mans 24 hour endurance race.
The front spoiler arrangement is known as S-Duct and Ferrari claims it creates strong suction for increased downforce. The car’s floor incorporates ‘vortex generators’, and the rear diffuser is the same as the 488 GTE to increase the air extraction and downforce generation compared with a regular 488. These add up to a 20% increase in downforce.
Meanwhile, Porsche has been busy perfecting the venerable 911 to create the latest GT3 RS. Because it’s an evolution of an existing model – known as the 991 – the changes are subtle.
In fact, the most noticeable changes are the addition of a pair of air ducts in the bonnet and ‘GT3 RS’ logos along the doors and rear wings.
That’s not to say the Porsche lacks the motorsport magic of the Ferrari. Its wide-track body features a magnesium roof, carbon-fibre reinforced wings and body panels and the side and rear windows are made using polycarbonate rather than glass.
Compared to the 488 GTB, the Pista weighs 90kg less and has a kerbweight of 1,385kg. The 911 GT3 RS weighs in at 1,430kg, when fitted with an optional Weissach Package that includes lighter wheels made using magnesium.
The Porsche’s flat-six engine is able to rev to 9,000rpm
When it comes to bragging rights, the Ferrari’s engine wins hands down. The 488 Pista is powered by the most powerful V8 yet made by Ferrari. Thanks to twin-turbo forced induction, it boasts 711bhp at 8,000rpm.
Torque is higher than the 488 GTB, with 568Ib ft at 3,000rpm. The company says it has managed to achieve faster turbo response times despite the increase in power, and stresses that the engine sound is “unique and unmistakably Ferrari.”
It is said to be lighter that the regular 3.9-litre unit, by using new exhaust manifolds, a lightweight crankshaft and flywheel, titanium con rods and carbon-fibre intake plenums.
By comparison, the Porsche appears a little puny. In the era of turbochargers, the latest flat-six-cylinder, naturally aspirated motor of the 911 GT3 RS is found wanting, with 513bhp at 8,450rpm.
But Porsche engineers would likely argue it’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with it that counts. In that respect, the ability to rev to 9,000rpm and enjoy the immediate response of an engine that doesn’t rely on turbochargers is likely to ensure the car remains as desirable as ever to petrolheads.
Ferrari claims the new 488 Pista can accelerate from 0-62mph in 2.85 seconds, faster than a La Ferrari.
This generation of 911 GT3 RS courted controversy for not being available with a manual gearbox. So both the Porsche and Ferrari use seven-speed, dual clutch transmissions which are specifically calibrated to complement the cars’ extreme nature. Both drive the rear wheels, will shift down through several gears automatically if the driver holds the downshift paddle (such as when braking at the end of a straight) and feature a launch control system.
How fast do you like your performance car? Ferrari claims the new 488 Pista can accelerate from 0-62mph in 2.85 seconds, faster than a La Ferrari. It can go from 0-124mph in just 7.6seconds and the top speed is 211mph.
It’s enough to leave Porsche drivers smoking like a hard-worked brake disc. The 911 GT3 RS can ‘only’ manage 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds and its top speed is a mere 193mph. However, Porsche fans would doubtless counter that when it comes to flat-out speed, the turbocharged 911 GT2 RS is the model to pick, as it perfectly mirrors the Ferrari’s stats.
Porsche has announced a price of £141,346 for the revised 911 GT3 RS. Ferrari is still to release the cost of the 488 Pista, but it’s likely to be around £215,000 – similar to the 911 GT2 RS. However, such figures are likely to be academic, as the two models have probably been ‘sold out’ for some time to loyal fans of each marque.