Ferrari 488 Spider shows its handling prowess

It was supposed to be a Ferrari track day at the Losail International Circuit.

But there was a twist in the tale.

Instead of the circuit, Alfardan Sports Motors, the official importer of Ferrari in Qatar, had designed an obstacle course in the parking lot.

Initially, there was a bit of disappointment but little did we know what was in store.

Our steed of choice was the 488 Spider.

Having driven this glee-generator before, the familiarity was reassuring in face of what was to come.

We had experienced the brute power of the 488 Spider and this time it was all about experiencing its precise handling.

Guiding us were instructors from Ferrari’s Corso Pilota programme.

The course was a short but technical one.

It began with the instructors showing how it’s done, with us in the passenger seat.

Cue tyre screeches, rear slides and butterflies in our stomach as they attacked the course with gusto.

Then it was our turn.

Now the 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 in the 488 Spider produces a massive 661hp but this exercise was about the five different drive modes – Wet, Sport, Race, CT OFF, and ESC OFF.

We began by turning the Manettino on the steering wheel into Sport mode.

With the safety net of the driver assistive technologies at its tightest, it made you feel like an accomplished racer.

No slides, though.

Switch to Race and the growl from the engine becomes louder and you are egged on to tackle the course a little faster.

When we had driven this car earlier – even during the track day, Race mode was the maximum fun we were allowed to have.

But here we were asked to switch to CT OFF.

In this mode, traction control disappears.

Steering inputs have to be more precise and the rear was happy to slide about a bit.

Then the instructor had a surprise in store.

He asked us to switch to ESC OFF.

This is the no-holds barred mode.

The stability control, the last bit of technology that’s hand-holding you, gets turned off as well.

The experience was maddening.

The rear would slide at every corner with the extent depending on how inch-perfect your corner entry was and how quickly you got on the gas.

If you misjudged the corner entry speed, you would end up with the car’s nose pointing in the wrong direction as it happened to us – a couple of times.

But we did manage to slide through a few corners.

Driving the 488 Spider on the track and in the city were unbelievable experiences but the tale of thrashing it around this short obstacle course will be retold many more times.

As seen on GulfTimes  Image Credits GulfTimes