Hot date

Edric sneaks off for a late-night date with a hot Italian.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Edric sneaks off for a late-night date with a hot Italian.

My Reading Room

CHILDREN finally asleep, wife blissfully occupied surfing Net-a-Porter. Now for some me-time.

Blip the scarlet key fob, swing the door open and clamber down into the low-set leather bucket.

Feel my shoulders settle against the seat’s pronounced wings, reach out and stab the starter button on that small, switch-laden steering wheel with the prancing horse in its centre.

I wince involuntarily as the bellow of the 488 GTB’s flat-plane V8 shatters the still night air, and hope that it doesn’t awaken the kids I’ve just spent the last half hour putting to bed.

Onto the expressway, the ample low-rev torque of the turbocharged engine gives the 488 a long-legged stride and stunning overtaking pace.

The engine note no longer morphs starkly from cultured purr to demented shriek at 4000rpm as the 458’s did, but delivers a more nuanced performance, with a guttural, throaty noise in the midrange that gives way to a full-scale howl nearer the 8000rpm redline. It’s different, but no less exhilarating to me.

Approaching 8000rpm, the hot Italian will howl and its less hot Singaporean driver might whoop.
Approaching 8000rpm, the hot Italian will howl and its less hot Singaporean driver might whoop.

If there’s one useful thing I acquired from spending two years in an army camp in the far north of Singapore in the name of national service, it was an intimate knowledge of the quiet network of the area’s rural roads. And it’s here that I finally let loose that flat-plane V8 tiger behind my left shoulder.

And the result is immediate terror – 661bhp (a full 90bhp more than the 458!) unleashed all at once on a poorly lit, narrow lane in the dead of night is a downright scary exercise.

My middle-aged eyes and dozy brain cannot process the misty, onrushing scenery fast enough, and my resolve lasts mere seconds before self-preservation instincts demand that I back off .

I try a more measured approach with the throttle, and the acceleration is still otherworldly. Zero to 100km/h in 3 seconds flat is the claim, and even that feels conservative. Throttle response is so instant and the storming delivery so linear, you’d never guess the engine is turbocharged.

The car doesn’t just sprint, it dances, too, flinging itself around the countless deserted bends with spectacular poise.

The roads are too narrow, my reflexes too lame and my pockets too shallow to risk fully exploiting the grip and handling limits of the Ferrari tonight, but even driven well within its capabilities, the car is a joy – sharp, balanced, exhilarating.

I double back and take the 488 waltzing over those deserted roads again. And again, and again, the experience searing itself ever more deeply into my memory with each pass.

Almost three thrilling hours later and back home, I blip-lock the Ferrari, give it a final, longing glance and bid it good night. It most certainly has been.

Edric looks forward to more late-night dates with hot italians, or equally hot germans from “stuttgart”.

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