5 0 5
Plus & Minus
Outstanding driveability; brilliant dynamics; an incredibly polished makeover of an already-fantastic sports car
Some wind noise from frameless side windows at speed; twin-turbo V8 will never sound as good as its atmo ancestors
The Wheels Verdict: The incredibly handsome Ferrari F8 Tributo is not only a more contemporary expression of what the 488 GTB stood for, it manages to back that up by being damn near as fast as a 488 Pista. But the beauty of this Maranello mauler is its approachability. Deliciously well designed and finished inside, as well as amazingly comfortable when it wants to be, the F8 Tributo truly is a supercar for all seasons. And while its twin-turbo engine may not achieve the spine-tingling acoustic highs of its finest naturally aspirated ancestors, its driveability is so close to perfect that really, what’s not to love?
WHAT IS THE FERRARI F8 TRIBUTO?
An exhaustive makeover of the 488 GTB (which in itself was an engineering-led facelift of the 458 Italia), though the F8’s decade-old core structure undersells just how new this car is.
Ferrari has left almost no screw unturned in the development of this crucial model – from its engine and emissions performance to its aerodynamic effectiveness, thermal efficiency, weight management and even its interior architecture. Think of it as a comfier yet sharper 488 GTB that’s almost as quick as a 488 Pista.
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT?
With the level of performance now on offer in a car like this, the ultimate playground to showcase its talents is Ferrari’s own Fiorano test track, as well as a solid strafe up through the challenging hills surrounding Maranello.
There’s no greater test of a sports car’s all-round talent than through the rain, blanketing fog and general unpredictability experienced on our drive loop … including hot laps on a saturated Fiorano surface. Thankfully, another lash in much drier conditions late in the day provided a proper stage for the fiercely fast F8 Tributo to showcase its towering talent.
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THE WHEELS REVIEW
Unpredictability. That is the driving force behind modern-day Ferrari, in order to keep its competitors, as well as its customers, guessing as to what is coming next. And it’s the exact reason why the new F8 Tributo exists. Because arguably no-one expected it to.
Building on the bones of its 488 GTB predecessor (they share doors, glasshouse, roof and underlying structure, just like the 458 Italia before that), the F8 is so comprehensively made over that it could almost be a new car.
A huge amount of work went into improving its aerodynamic efficiency (by 10 percent) and thermal efficiency (lowering the air temp entering the engine by 15 degrees), while stylistically making the ‘tribute’ aspect of the F8’s new name mean something.
Cue the F1-derived ‘S-duct’ at the front (as per 488 Pista and FXX-K Evo), a super-cool rib-vented engine cover (a la F40) made from a lightweight material called Lexan, new quad rear tail-lights (channelling the svelte F355 and gorgeous 288 GTO), plus a new ‘blown’ rear spoiler design that increases downforce by 25 percent.
Engine-wise, the 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 is clearly a 488 handover, though with 50 percent new parts, it’s a substantially altered work of art. It’s now essentially the titanium-filled 488 Pista donk with revisions aimed at increasing power despite the addition of a pair of Euro 6d-compliant Gasoline Particulate Filters (GPFs) at the rear of a new exhaust system.
The air intakes have been shifted from the rear flanks to either side of the rear spoiler, feeding directly into the intake plenums, and there’s a new ‘Inconel’ exhaust manifold with reduced back pressure, new valves and springs, a different cam profile, and a 17 percent reduction in inertia thanks to the lightweighting of a heap of components. Indeed, the Tributo’s V8 is 18kg better off than a 488 GTB’s.
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It’s also more powerful – up from 492 to 530kW at 7000rpm, with 770Nm (+10) at 3250rpm – which, combined with a 40kg drop in overall vehicle weight, gives the F8 Tributo a thrilling, thrusting spring in its step. Engine sound has swollen across the board, with up to an 8dB increase audible by the driver, aided by a ‘hot tube’ resonator amplifying high-quality engine harmonics directly to the cabin. Even the exhaust flaps have been finetuned for a cleaner, crisper note.
The outcome, of course, is a stunningly capable engine. Tractable from barely 1100rpm, with turbo lag banished (if not turbo whistle and wastegate noise), the Tributo’s bent-eight gains a lusciously gnarly edge in its 3000-4000rpm mid-range before truly exploding from six grand to the new ‘wall-effect’ 8000rpm cut-out.
It’s here, in the twin-turbo V8’s rapacious upper reaches, that the Tributo’s searing 7.8sec 0-200km/h time and 340km/h top speed is literally rammed home. And yet thanks to the wonders of Variable Torque Management, there’s an exponential build in excitement that rewards committed throttle planting.
The seven-speed dual-clutch ’box is a wonderful support act, making you forget all about any manual pipedreams, and in combination with a tweaked chassis and the aforementioned weight and aero improvements, the F8 Tributo’s dynamics are an effortless match for its monstrous performance.
Quicker steering and a superb-to-hold, smaller-diameter wheel make the F8 feel hyper-keen yet still progressive, and its chassis somehow manages to ride better than a 488 GTB’s (and even some of its more expensive brethren in ‘bumpy road’ mode) while approaching the 488 Pista’s sublime poise and grip.
Yet this is a forgiving car too, designed to be approachable and more predictable at its outer limits thanks to the integration of Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer Plus lateral-control software into the latest-gen version of Slide Slip Control (SSC 6.1), increasing handling performance in Race mode and making the F8 more fun to drive in Sport. The revised SSC system even gives you slightly more oversteer angle before it taps you on the shoulder.
Thing is, you kind of expect all that in a modern Ferrari; fast as all get-out and a riot. What I wasn’t prepared for is just how outstandingly accomplished the F8 Tributo is as a day-to-day runner. Its all-new, 812-inspired interior is brilliant (and even quite practical), as is its driving position, and its ride comfort on low-profile 20s is almost unbelievable considering the vastness of its cornering talent.
Cocooned in the F8 Tributo’s beautifully crafted cabin, feeling the effortless surge of its colossal powertrain, and marvelling at just how far Italian electronics and user-interface systems have come, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate four decades of Ferrari’s mid-engined V8 sporting heritage. Here’s hoping there’s a few more years left in the spiritual tank.
Audi R8 V10 Plus, Aston Martin DBS, Lamborghini Huracan Performante, McLaren 720S and Porsche 911 GT3.
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Price and specs
Model: Ferrari F8 Tributo
Engine: 3902cc V8 (90°), dohc, 32v, twin-turbo
Max power: 530kW @ 7000rpm
Max torque: 770Nm @ 3250rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch
0-100km/h: 2.9sec (claimed)
On sale: February 2020