For many years, carmakers at the very pinnacle of the performance market have developed models that were 'track ready,' but drivable on the road. Ferrari's latest entry into this most rarefied of all markets is the 488 Pista, a model boasting the most powerful V-8 engine in the company's storied history.

Although the Pista is based on Ferrari’s 488 GTB ‘entry level’ model, it’s very highly modified and has numerous upgrades, most of which contribute towards the car’s amazing performance figures. It’s 90kg lighter than the GTB, which gives it an advantage in agility and responsiveness. 100 km/h comes up in less than three seconds and the top speed is around 340 km/h. Importantly, the car has exceptional brakes and the Pista can be brought to a stop from 200 km/h in just short of 30 metres.

The engine is a jewel of precision engineering and best admired on the Ferrari production line before it’s shoehorned into its amidships location. There’s not much to see once it’s installed and most of it is covered by carbon fibre housings. Of just under four-litres displacement, the V-8 twin-turbo power unit develops a hefty 720-horsepower, thus placing the Pista firmly in the exclusive and thinly populated ‘700 hp-plus’ club. The transmission is a seven-speed automatic that shifts faster than even skilled drivers could achieve with a manual gearbox.

The bodywork of the Pista uses a lot of carbon fibre and that’s one of the ways Ferrari was able to reduce weight compared to the 488 GTB. Like just about every Ferrari over the decades, the car is very striking to look at and the Pista has benefited from several aerodynamic upgrades aimed at enhancing performance and creating more efficient engine cooling. Foremost among these is the dramatic-looking front end ducting, said to have been ‘borrowed’ from Formula One.

The rear spoiler is also a very complex piece of work that must have taxed the aerodynamicist’s talents and made good use of Ferrari’s huge wind tunnel, the first thing you’ll notice if you visit the Maranello factory. Buyers can further save weight by adding the optional carbon fibre wheels, though this upgrade does cost something approaching €10.000.

The interior was designed to eliminate unnecessary elements and create a racecar ambiance, though it hardly lacks comfort and convenience features. There’s lots of carbon fibre in there too and the dashboard has been slimmed down and deprived of the usual glove box, replaced by storage pockets on the rear bench and in the doors. Hip hugging seats, needed given the G-forces this car can generate when cornering, add to the competition car look and the leather clad steering wheel is flattened at the bottom to enhance thigh clearance. Sitting in a Ferrari like this is one of the most rewarding experiences in the world of motoring.

While most Ferrari buyers will be more than content with a 488 GTB, those discerning folk who always hanker after something even more exhilarating will find a lot to please them in the Pista. It’s a remarkable car with almost no competition and is bound to become a future classic. Buying one of these could be a sound investment rather than luxurious excess.

ENGINE: 720-horsepower twin-turbo V-8.

TRANSMISSION: 720-horsepower twin-turbo V-8.

ACCELERATION: Zero to 100 km/h in 2.85-secs.

TOP SPEED: 340 km/h.

I LIKED: Outstanding power, handling and braking. Beautifully crafted in the best traditions of Ferrari. As with so many Ferraris, it looks fantastic and will turn heads, even those of other Ferrari owners.

I DIDN’T LIKE: All-wheel drive would have been nice, but the car does have excellent electronic dynamic stability aids.

MARKET ALTERNATIVES: McLaren 720S, Porsche 911 GT2 RS.

WHO DRIVES ONE? Ferrari owners who must have the latest current car from Maranello. Buyers who may have track access with one of the various clubs and want to get as close as possible to the racing experience. People who have owned high performance Porsches but would like more style and the same track-capable performance.

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY: Available now at around €300.000.