JEREMY Clarkson was quite fond of the soon-to-be-discontinued Ferrari 488 GTB supercar when he first drove it in 2016. Well, OK, he loved it — The Sunday Times columnist and The Grand Tour presenter even went as far as to use the word “perfect”.
With such praise being lavished on the regular version of the twin-turbocharged two-seater, you’d have thought Clarkson would have been absolutely smitten with an even faster variant: the 711bhp, 211mph Ferrari 488 Pista.
As is his way, though, he drops a Top Gear-style bombshell on proceedings early in today’s review, with the startling revelation he’s “grown out of mid-engined supercars”, and has fallen out of love with the “so up itself” Italian car maker.
So Clarkson spends some time making a few highly critical observations about the track-honed special — granted, mostly to, in his own words, “piss the company off”, but a few points he made did genuinely seem to spoil the experience for the controversial car journalist.
The four-point, racing-style seatbelt harness received some scorn, for example, as the setup prevents you from leaning forward to see what’s coming at junctions, and the writer also confirmed he still isn’t a fan of Ferrari’s “almost impossible to use” control layout on the steering wheel.
Clarkson also finds it extremely difficult to recommend the 488 Pista in terms of value for money. Not only is it a very pricey car (even without any options fitted, the Ferrari will set you back a cool quarter of a million pounds), but it also lacks equipment you may expect from a car as expensive as this — with Clarkson highlighting the absence of any carpets, built-in sat nav systems and soundproofing, as well as it having an air-conditioning system that is best described as “fairly feeble”.
But yes, as the headline states, the Ferrari 488 Pista still found a way into Clarkson’s heart and is actually one of the highest-rated cars that Clarkson has reviewed for The Sunday Times this year so far. The critic summed up the speed machine as being “one of the most exciting, thrilling, beautiful and satisfying cars ever made”.
So impressive was the latest track-focused Ferrari supercar, it could even be good enough for Clarkson to drop his self-imposed boycott. As Clarkson says: “After a few days I began to question the promise I’d made to never buy another mid-engined car. And certainly not a Ferrari. Because the Pista is not just good. Or brilliant. It’s way beyond that”.
At the time of writing, Jeremy Clarkson appears to have resisted the temptation to pay his nearest Ferrari showroom a visit. Regardless of whether or not the critic picks up a Pista, the stripped-out supercar will be “very bad news” for his Grand Tour colleague James May, who owns the 488 Pista’s hardcore predecessor, the 458 Speciale: as the new car has supposedly rendered the 458 “worthless”, Clarkson says May will “have to scrap” his Speciale.
Something makes us think he might be a bit jealous of his co-host.