MOTOR first drive review
Published: 13 October 2019
On face value, the Ferrari F8 Tributo could easily be interpreted as a sentimental farewell for Maranello’s decade-old mid-engined V8 workhorse.
It does, after all, share its doors, glasshouse, roof and underlying structure with the 488 GTB (2015), as well as the even older 458 Italia (2009), so in automotive DNA terms the F8 is eligible for a concession card. But this striking new Ferrari has been so comprehensively re-engineered that it’s damn close to all-new.
You barely notice the carry-over bits. Instead, it’s the ‘tribute’ flavour of the F8’s styling makeover that pricks your attention, like Ferrari’s classic four-ringed taillight treatment and the F40-style rib-vented engine cover. At the front there’s an F1-inspired ‘S-duct’ for aero purposes (a la 488 Pista) and a more horizontal headlight treatment that intentionally references the more exotic SF90 Stradale.
If that sounds like a stylistic mish-mash, in reality it’s a cracker – broadly handsome and beautifully integrated, with the brains to back its brawn.
The Tributo’s headlights, for example, occupy the same cut-out as before, yet the upper section is now a vent that cools the front brakes. Same with that funky S-duct, which forces air up and over the car, increasing front-end downforce by 15 per cent, and the ‘blown’ spoiler at the back, which not only improves rear downforce by 25 per cent but has three turning vanes inside that compress the airflow towards the wake of the car.
It’s these clever touches, among a multitude of aero tweaks, that help the F8 simultaneously shave its drag coefficient by five per cent.
Engine-wise for Tributo, think the 488 Pista’s donk and its titanium-filled goodness, with vast improvements.There are new springs and hollow valves, stronger pistons and heads, a different cam profile, a new ‘Inconel’ exhaust manifold that saves 10kg and an entirely new exhaust system.
Lightweighting of a heap of components (rods, crankshaft, flywheel and even cylinder liners) not only benefits the kilo count (down 18kg from the 488 GTB), but also means 17 per cent less inertia for more instantaneous acceleration.
The Tributo actually produces 38kW more power than the old 488 GTB. Combined with a neat 40kg drop in overall vehicle weight, it’s clear the F8 is so much more than its marginally sharper 2.9sec 0-100km/h claim would appear on a spec sheet.
Ferrari says the advantage over the 488 GTB widens to half a second by 200km/h (7.8sec v 8.3) and there’s another 10 clicks at the very top (now a searing 340km/h). And you get more noise too – up to eight more decibels of enhanced V8 symphony is audible by the driver – with a ‘hot tube’ resonator feeding high-quality engine harmonics directly to the cabin, and tweaked exhaust flaps amplifying a cleaner, crunchier note to the world.
With all that working in the F8 Tributo’s favour, it’s surely no surprise that this latest-gen Ferrari is a frigging fit beast that packs a massive sense of occasion. At start up, there’s that loveable exhaust blare as the V8 sets idle speed to ‘toasty’, and on the move an awe-inspiring dedication to being arguably the most tractable drivetrain on earth.
The F8 effortlessly gathers pace from 1000rpm without fuss, yet courtesy of the blissful satisfaction of Ferrari’s torque-management system, there’s greater reward the higher you extend. Even at 3000-4000rpm, the Tributo’s twin-turbo V8 is chocked with meat-filled muscle and a rambunctious induction edge, though it’s the spectacular thrust and ear-splitting wail from six grand to the new ‘wall-effect’ ignition cut-out at the 8000rpm redline that brands it as a genuine supercar. It’s as rapid as anyone could possibly ever want.
It’s also as pleasant to potter about in. The seven-speed dual-clutch ’box is near-flawless, regardless of whether it’s in auto mode or you’re tweaking the paddles yourself, and on our rain-soaked, fog-covered road loop in the hills surrounding Maranello, the F8 displayed so much poise and proficiency in Wet mode (which automatically puts the dampers in a cushier ‘bumpy road’ setting, while moderating power delivery out of corners) you’d wonder why anyone would ever need all-wheel drive.
What the challenging conditions did prove is just how superb the F8 Tributo is as an all-rounder – rail, hail or shine. Bombing down an Italian autostrada at 175km/h, wipers feverishly clearing the deep windscreen, there isn’t a moment of nervousness. The F8’s quicker steering somehow blends with its agility-enhancing aero improvements without feeling too darty.
It rides better than a 488 GTB, yet can almost match the hardcore 488 Pista for outright handling talent. Around Ferrari’s Fiorano test circuit, the F8 Tributo is 0.5sec faster than a 488 GTB, one second behind the Pista.
Yet this is a more forgiving supercar, intended to be less intimidating at its cornering limit due to the integration of Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer Plus lateral-control software (which debuted on the Pista) into the Tributo’s latest take on Slide Slip Control. With FDE+ now also assisting in Race mode, the aim is to make the Tributo faster in the steering-wheel Manettino’s most extreme setting, while allowing a slightly broader oversteer stance in the CT-off position (in conjunction with less steering-wheel movement) before the electronics start to trim the edges.
As your confidence builds, so does your respect for the sublime polish of the F8 Tributo. The synergy of its exponential power delivery, its heightened directional precision and the progressiveness of its rear-end as it fluidly yet thrillingly transitions into oversteer when exiting tighter corners is benchmark stuff for a mid-engined supercar. And even when the road is damp, there’s so much dynamic wizardry at play here that you’d never know the Tributo is carrying more than 58 per cent of its weight bias over its rear axle and channelling 530kW and 770Nm to its 305/30ZR20 rear treads.
Even if none of this extreme dynamic performance is really your thing, maybe the new 812-inspired interior of this great-riding, incredibly comfortable sports car could be the tipping point in its desirability.
Seated behind the traditional yellow tacho, bracketed by a pair of striking, exhaust-inspired ‘eyeball’ air vents, surrounded by the highest-quality materials ever used in an ‘entry-level’ Ferrari and serenaded by a bloody excellent stereo, the Tributo’s surroundings definitely feel in the ballpark of its price tag.
Hell, there’s even a cupholder ahead of the gear-selector buttons that’ll clutch onto a 600ml water bottle or large coffee without trying to flip it into your lap!
And that’s ultimately what the F8 Tributo is all about – expanding the already vast accomplishments of the 488 GTB into a more confidence-inspiring but also faster, more playful, more useable sports car. Astounding grip levels and enormous performance is one thing; being able to tap into those huge dynamic reserves without trembling in your close-to-$500K investment is even more remarkable.
2019 FERRARI F8 TRIBUTO SPECS
Engine: 3902cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin-turbo
Power: 530kW @ 7000rpm
Torque: 770Nm @ 3250rpm
0-100km/h: 2.9sec (claimed)
Like: Incredible performance; ace interior; an exceptional all-round supercar
Dislike: Frameless side windows noisy above 130km/h; a 458 Speciale sounds better!
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, RWD, 529kW/770Nm, 0-100km/h 2.9sec, 1419kg, $489,900
Ridiculously rapid, though suffers from turbo-lag that eludes the F8 Tributo, and doesn’t sound as tuneful. No match for looks but equally easy to drive and satisfying to slaughter.
MOTOR track review
Exercising the latest Prancing Horse at Sydney Motorsport Park
By: Scott Newman | Published: 27 February 2020
Buying a Ferrari and only driving it on the streets is a bit like owning a racehorse to trot around your paddocks on the weekend. Sure, it’s more than capable of doing it, but rather a waste of its ability. Just as a thoroughbred needs to stretch its legs on track, a Prancing Horse needs a circuit to show the full extent of its abilities.
Thankfully, the Australian launch of the new Ferrari F8 Tributo includes an afternoon at Sydney Motorsport Park’s North Circuit, both examples present shod with brand new brakes and unspoiled Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s, not that they’re going to stay that way for long.
The F8 Tributo is the successor to the 488 GTB. Visually, it’s easy to see the two are related, though the F8 has been restyled with massive improvements in aerodynamics and a few retro details for those who are paying attention. For example, the twin taillights and body-coloured rear are a nod to the 308 GTB, the lexan ‘staircase’ engine cover similar to that on the iconic F40.
Every surface of the F8, visible or not, has been honed to use the air passing over it. Ferrari claims a 10 per cent improvement in aerodynamic efficiency compared to the 488 GTB thanks to a 15 per cent increase in downforce with no added drag. One of the key components to achieving this is the S-Duct in the nose, which not only pushes the front axle into the ground at speed but ‘attaches’ the airflow to the car allowing it to feed the rear intakes and the blown rear spoiler.
There are myriad other changes: the new horizontal headlights improve brake cooling; radiators from the 488 Challenge race car now lie flat in the nose; moving the air intakes created room for larger intercoolers in the sidepods; vortex generators front and rear shape the air underneath the car; active flaps front and rear reduce drag or increase downforce depending on the situation. All this to ensure the F8 is as planted as possible in corners yet super slippery on the straights.
It could probably get away with a bit of drag given there’s a 530kW/770Nm 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 in the middle. The outputs are identical to those in the Pista but the engine has been heavily redesigned with new pistons, cylinder heads and lightweight materials which reduce weight by 18kg compared to the 488’s engine yet extract an additional 38kW/10Nm. Hitting 100km/h is claimed to take just 2.9sec, while 200km/h is passed on 7.8sec on the way to a 340km/h top speed.
Behind the wheel this translates into simply relentless acceleration. In most cars, even quite quick ones, achieving 200km/h requires a lengthy stretch of road and a decent run-up. In the F8 it’s commonplace, regularly hit between corners. Only when the seven-speed dual-clutch ’box selects sixth gear down the main straight does acceleration appreciably slow, yet it still pulls like a train to 265km/h before the brakes are required.
Like the 488 before it, the F8’s party trick is its variable torque management. In order to make the most of the available traction, the power level steps up in each successive gear. It works brilliantly but feels quite odd, as attempts to short-shift to help traction are stymied by a boost in power and seemingly unabated forward pace. Maximum revs are 8000rpm, a new hard-cut limiter replacing the 488’s gradual one, the steering wheel-mounted shift lights flashing blue when it’s time for a new gear.
The gearbox itself is flawless, there’s no other word for it, and the chassis operates at a similarly high level. It’s incredible that such a potent machine can be so friendly; apart from its sheer speed, the F8 is in no way intimidating to drive. Much of its relatively docile nature is due to the incredible effectiveness of its electronic aids.
In Sport it’s possible to floor the throttle mid-corner and then feel the speed slowly build as you wind off steering lock, the car’s brain feeding in the power for you. Selecting Race activates Side Slip Control and requires much more driver input; what happens with the electronics parked will have to wait for another day, but such is the F8’s balance and communication we suspect that it requires respect rather than fear. The brakes, too, show no sign of wilting after six hard laps.
So is it worth your $484,888 (plus around $100K once you dig into the options list)? It depends. The F8 is clearly an outstanding supercar, but then so was the (to my eyes prettier) 488, so I’m not sure I’d be rushing out to trade up, especially with Ferrari’s all-new V6 hybrid sports car waiting in the wings. Nevertheless, if it is the supercar for you, make sure you exercise it properly.
2020 FERRARI F8 TRIBUTO SPECS
Engine: 3902cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin-turbo
Power: 530kW @ 7000rpm
Torque: 770Nm @ 3250rpm
0-100km/h: 2.9sec (claimed)
Like: Incredible performance; useability; warranty
Dislike: Fussy styling; not a huge leap over 488
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Second Opinion: Wheels first drive review
Wheels has been at the forefront of Australian motoring media since 1953, creating quality, credible content that consumers trust, and taking readers behind the scenes of the automotive industry.
Ferrari celebrates four decades of mid-engined V8 sports cars and four consecutive International Engine of the Year awards with the F8 Tributo.
By: Nathan Ponchard
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.
- Wheels Archive: Peter Robinson visits Ferrari in Maranello
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.
- Great V8s: Ferrari 458 Speciale's F136 V8
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.
- Car vs Road: McLaren 720S
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
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