Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 January 2020

Ferrari F8 Tributo: A fast and furious beast that is a fitting tribute

There's rarely been a more newsworthy model of a Ferrari. Here's why...

It’s always news when Ferrari releases a new car, but rarely has there been a more newsworthy model than the F8 Tributo, because, as the name suggests, this is not only a tribute to 40 years of Ferrari’s mid-­engined V8 sports cars, but it could also be its last.

As Ferrari embraces a hybrid electrified future, the twin-turbo, 3.9-litre unit in the F8 Tributo, which has won 15 awards in the past half decade, including International Engine of the Year four times in succession, could be used for the last time in its present guise. The 2020, SF90 Stradale may well use the same base engine, but it will be incorporated as part of an electric hybrid power unit.

The new F8 Tributo is the latest in a long line of mid-engined V8 Ferraris that date back to 1975 and the 308 GTB, but evolves from the most recent 488 GTB with effectively the same 710 brake horsepower engine taken from the 488 Pista, mixed with a more road-biased GTB chassis.

The best bits of the by-invitation­-only 488 Pista have been carried over in the form of reduced weight and more downforce, wrapped in a new design where only the roof and doors are the same, enveloping a lightly refreshed interior.

Already on sale across the ­Middle East, the Dh1.8 million F8 Tributo replaces the 488 and features a more classic look, which touches on legendary Ferraris of the past, such as the four round tail lights of the 308 and the louvred Lexan engine cover from the F40.

The use of Lexan shows how far Ferrari has gone to reduce weight, as the F8 is 30 kilograms lighter than the 488, bringing it down to 1,435kg, while producing 10 per cent more downforce and the Pista-sourced engine squeezes out an extra 50bhp.

This car is not a track day special, as it’s out on the open road where it truly excels

Carried over from the 488 Pista are its titanium conrods, crankshaft, flywheel and Inconel exhaust that saves 15kg on the mechanics alone. What this means behind the wheel is an engine that sings to its 8,000 revolutions per minute redline and felt as sharp as a go-kart on the hilly mountain roads near the Italian factory.

The driver-centric dash features a mix of traditional switchgear and digital displays. Its flat-­bottomed steering wheel is smaller and feels well made. It’s also easier to navigate, as all the buttons for indicators, wipers and lights are on the wheel – and it’s more intuitive than before.The main display keeps the rev counter front and centre, with supplementary screens either side for engine and chassis info, audio and sat nav, while the passenger faces a new seven-inch touchscreen and the air vents have been redesigned in aluminium or optional carbon fibre.

Like all Ferraris, the brake and accelerator pedals are close together, so it’s best to wear thin shoes to avoid a surprise overlap of feet when you least want it.

This car is not a track day special, as it’s out on the open road where it truly excels, dealing with the rigours of everyday traffic and rough road surfaces far better than a 710bhp sports car should. It soaks up bumps – helped by the powered, leather seats – much better than the track-­focused Pista, yet still delivers an endless surge of power.

Using Ferrari’s Variable Boost Management, which increases torque progressively, wiping out turbo lag, the F8 delivers instantly whenever the right foot is planted, regardless of gear. Its upshifts are lightning quick.

The F8 Tributo continues Ferrari’s tradition of delivering spine-tingling performance from its mid-mounted V8s that are worthy of their many accolades. Hopefully the SF90 and future versions will continue this trend with their electric-powered assistance.

Updated: January 9, 2020 03:47 PM

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