Maranello, Italy - If Porsche drew a line in the sand last year with its seriously potent GT2 RS, Ferrari has well and truly crossed it. 

Set for its official debut at the Geneva Motor Show early in March, the new 488 Pista follows in the tracks of previous track-biased special editions like 458 Speciale, 430 Scuderia and 360 Challenge Stradale. That means it’s a lighter, more powerful and sharper handling version of an otherwise normal road going model, which in this case is a 488 GTB.

The term ‘otherwise normal’ hardly seems appropriate though, as a regular 488 is already equipped with 492kW and 760Nm. The Pista, however, makes a mockery of these outputs and bumps them up to a whopping 530kW and 770Nm, making this the most powerful V8 engine in Prancing Horse history. 

Ferrari hasn’t yet offered detail as to where such a hefty boost comes from, saying only that it’s an “extreme evolution” of the twin-turbo 3.9-litre V8 in the regular GTB.

Make no mistake, these figures are hardly coincidence as the Pista not only outdoes Porsche’s wickedest 911 (515kW/750Nm) but also just pips McLaren’s 527kW/770Nm 720S in the sheer grunt stakes. 

We can’t help but notice, however, that Ferrari’s claimed 0-100km/h time of 2.85 seconds is five hundredths slower than the Porsche. Interestingly, it’s also five hundredths quicker than the McLaren. Given quoted top speeds of 340km/h for the GT2 RS and Pista, and 341 for the 720S, we’ll call it a three-way performance tie.

The 488 Pista (Italian for track) is a considerably leaner machine than its GTB counterpart with a 90kg savings showing in its 1280kg kerb weight. Again, there’s little information at this point as to where the weight savings comes from, but we’ll bet it’s in more extensive use of carbonfibre and the deletion of comfort modcons.

Ferrari says development has come straight from its experience in the World Endurance Championship, where it has five manufacturer’s titles in six years in the ultra competitive GTE class. So it’s safe to assume that luxury items like navigation, parking cameras and suspension lift systems have been left out.

An F1-inspired S-Duct which sees air enter under the front spoiler and exit through the bonnet, a diffuser derived straight from the GTE racing programme, and a higher rear spoiler all contribute to a 20 percent increase in downforce over the 488 GTB. Of course Ferrari’s latest electronic go-fast goodies are also included with specially adapted Side-Slip Angle Control systems (SSC), limited slip differentials (E-Diff3) and adjustable magnetorheological dampers (SCM).

The Pista also gets a new Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer (FDE) which uses a computer control unit to continuously modulate brake pressures. 

Ferrari South Africa confirms the 488 Pista will be available locally some time in the first quarter of 2019. It’s too early for pricing, but expect a premium on the 488 GTB’s R5.12-million base price.