It’s easy to be cynical every time a new Ferrari comes out, and throw out tired old lines like “they don’t make them like they used to”, or “Ferrari has lost its soul”.
Hell, I’ve probably used a few myself and you know what? It’s true.
They really don’t make them like they used to. Never before have I carried so much speed into a corner with such blinding confidence in any Ferrari.
The F8 Tributo is a marvel of engineering that extracts the best from its powertrain in a way even an amateur can look like a hero. Ferrari has seen what McLaren has to offer with the 720S and raised the stakes with the F8 Tributo.
What makes the F8 Tributo so damn good?
Ferrari says the F8 Tributo will cost $484,888 before on-road costs, but that’s a bit like Elon Musk saying he will send one million people to Mars by 2050. It’s possible, but pretty unlikely.
You will more likely end up spending around $600,000 (or more) on your F8 Tributo by the time you’ve specified it, because even the little Ferrari badge on the side of the car is optional ($3001). If you want it painted on instead of a metal badge you’re looking at around $20,000.
In fact, the $484,888 before on-roads can be regarded as partially fanciful. But that’s okay, because owning your dreams is priceless.
First and foremost, you get what is likely the last mid-engined Ferrari supercar with a V8 engine.
There’s a reason it’s called Tributo: it’s a tribute to the V8 being killed by tougher emission laws, and environmental regulations and restrictions.
With the impending six-cylinder hybrid on its way, this twin-turbo V8 Ferrari has the potential to be a collector’s item. It’s unlikely the Prancing Horse will do a special series version (like the 488 Pista or 458 Speciale) before it changes over to an all-new model.
It’s worth remembering the F8 is still based on the Ferrari 458 Italia chassis debuted in 2009. The arrival of the 488 marked the end of the naturally-aspirated V8 and the F8, which took many by surprise, is proof competition is good for consumers.
Even by Ferrari’s own subtle admission, it’s in response to the ballistic McLaren 720S.
In terms of standard equipment, the Ferrari F8 Tributo comes with the V8 engine and a seven-speed rapid shifting transmission, basic sport seats, a steering wheel, and the choice of Ferrari red paint (Rosso Corsa). You also get the excellent Magneride suspension system, carbon-ceramic brakes, and painted 20-inch alloy wheels.
Almost everything else is an option. We aren’t a huge fan of the wheels pictured here, and would definitely go for a different design finished in black.
Here are some good examples of what you can expect to pay for options on the F8 Tributo:
- Carbon fibre racing seat: $14,660
- Special paint colour: $22,001
- Full electric seats: $13,302
- Apple CarPlay: $6791
- Front radar with active cruise control: $7792
- Front suspension lifter: $8901
- Reversing camera: $4898
- Front parking sensors: $2551
- Upgraded stereo: $10,451
The option list goes on, with no fewer than 205 boxes to tick… or ignore. If you picked everything Ferrari offers, it would well and truly push your F8 Tributo past the $1,000,000 mark, so spec carefully.
Given the low volume of these cars, crash data from Euro NCAP or ANCAP isn’t available.
Nonetheless, we’ve seen enough 458 and 488s crashed and damaged to anecdotally ascertain that this is a super-stiff chassis that should keep you safe if you run out of talent.
Even so, the F8 Tributo has a lot of basic features that you have to option.
Ferrari offers a full advanced driver assistance package at $14,660 with a front radar for active cruise and autonomous emergency braking, along with a surround-view monitor camera.
It’s a bit of a ridiculous price and in fairness, you can almost buy a Kia Rio with all of those features (and wireless Apple CarPlay and you know, an actual car) for the same amount.
To a certain extent, Ferrari has kept the basic interior layout we saw in the 458. The F8 Tributo doesn’t feel all that new compared to its predecessors – which makes sense, because the underpinnings of the car and its chassis are exactly the same.
However, the satellite navigation system and the hardware driving the screens have been updated with a crisper visual display. Apple CarPlay remains a ridiculously expensive option at $6791.
From a comfort and seating perspective, the standard seats in the F8 are nice but you really want the race seats to make a visual impact. The steering wheel is smaller than in the 458 and 488 and, even though the difference is only about 10 per cent, it makes a big (or small?) difference when you grasp it.
It’s much more natural in the hand and more in tune with the current trend of smaller steering wheels.
The buttons surrounding the dash for aircon, lights, and other features are relatively flimsy, in typical Italian fashion. There’s an overwhelming sense what the McLaren 720S and Lamborghini Huracan Evo offer inside is far more modern and sophisticated.
That’s not to take anything away from the F8 Tributo, because unless you’re coming out of a 458 or 488 and expect something new and ‘wow’, the car holds up just fine for its intended purpose.
In saying that, we would love to have seen the interior from the Ferrari Roma in the F8, but we suspect Ferrari has kept that up its sleeve for the six-cylinder hybrid to follow the F8, because why else would you ditch a V8 for a six?
There’s a lot of debate about how similar the F8’s engine is to that of the more expensive 488 Pista. Ferrari is coy on the details of what’s shared (no doubt to keep Pista owners happy) but it admits the 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 (CG code like the Pista, part of the F154 V8 family) has the Pista’s crankshaft and uprated titanium alloy connecting rods, as well as a lightened flywheel to help cut engine inertia by around 17 per cent.
It’s no surprise then that the F8’s engine develops the same 530kW (at 7000rpm) and 770Nm of torque (at 3250rpm) as the Pista. You could argue it’s a little more advanced, thanks to an air intake stolen from the 488 Challenge racer.
Compared to the 488 GTB’s V8, which is essentially the previous iteration of the same engine, the F8 powertrain is 18kg lighter and the brand says it’s changed around 50 per cent of the internals. A direct comparison on numbers will tell you the F8 has 37kW more power and just 10Nm more torque.
As is often the case with numbers, they don’t paint the full picture.
Ferrari claims a 0-100km/h time of 2.9 seconds, 0.1 seconds quicker than the 488 GTB, and the same as the 488 Pista. Coincidentally, this is the same acceleration time as the McLaren 720S and Lamborghini Huracan Evo.
There are two elements to this: road, and track. On the road, we found the F8 to be a pleasant and comfortable place to be.
The adaptive suspension with bumpy road engaged really does make the car far more supple and supportive. This is very similar to what you will find in the 488.
If you own a modern SUV with big wheels, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to realise the F8 rides better than most ‘everyday’ cars thanks to its magnetic ride suspension system. It’s definitely the sort of car you can drive daily, and if you option the nose lifter it can also pretty much go anywhere.
The smaller steering wheel is nice to hold, but the paddles need to be replaced with those from the 458 or 488 Challenge so they extend all the way down for better-feeling shifts. The Manettino (Italian for little switch) on the wheel allows you to flick into Wet, Sport, Race or, if you’re brave, CT OFF.
Realistically you’ll spend the majority of your time in Sport, because it gives you most of what you need on the road without hanging you out to dry if things get hairy. Wet mode is for when it’s actually raining, or else you’ll think you’re driving a Fiat.
Race mode is where the magic happens. You can definitely enjoy it on the road but it’s really on the track, as the name would suggest, where it comes alive.
We had about 25 laps around Queensland Raceway’s Sprint Circuit (the same configuration we use for our performance timing) and really got to explore both the F8 Tributo Coupe and Spyder’s handling characteristics.
A bit of history lesson here for Ferrari fans. When the Prancing Horse was finalising 458 development it did what Ferrari does best: it took things out of the car to make it lighter, and then charged people more money to buy it.
The stripped-back 458 Speciale, for those silly enough to buy one (like this author), was special for more than just being the last naturally-aspirated and arguably best-sounding V8 Ferrari as it was also the first car to feature Side Slip Angle Control (SSC).
Ferrari claimed at the time the Speciale’s e-differential and traction control were optimised to allow enough slip for even an amateur to drift the car without binning it. We assume Maranello is currently developing a similar system for Sebastian Vettel.
Since then, the 488 GTB has been furnished with a new and improved version, which was then updated in 2018 to create the SSC 6.0 system debuted in the 488 Pista, backed by something called Ferrari Driving Enhancer (FDE).
If you didn’t already feel bad for Pista owners, who’ve spent the big bucks only to see their engine donated to the regular F8, feel for them even more as the F8 gets SSC 6.1 and FDE+, even better than what’s available in the Pista.
FDE begins to apply brake pressure to individual callipers mid-corner to improve the feel of the car when it’s right on the limit and beyond and looking to go into oversteer, removing the nervousness some high horsepower cars feel when loaded up mid-corner.
The difference between the Pista and the Tributo is that in the Pista, FDE only works in CT-OFF mode (one step beyond Race, for when you’re actually a racing driver or pretending to be one). In the F8 it also works in Race, allowing you to get the most out of an oversteer situation on track without feeling like there’s no support.
The idea here is that with FDE+ in the hands of an amateur racer, the F8 Tributo should be able to get on the throttle significantly earlier mid-corner because the F8 will not step out or oversteer.
Which brings us back to the comment in the first paragraph of this review. Never have I carried so much speed in a Ferrari on a race track as I did in the F8. There’s an overwhelming sense of confidence the F8 has it sorted.
No matter when and how hard you go for the right pedal, the Ferrari comes out of the other side making you look like a hero. It’s kind of like a McLaren 720S, except the Big Mac feels more understeery.
Owning a 458 Speciale that has seen its fair share of track days, and having driven both a 488 and 488 Pista on track, take my word for it when I say the F8 is the absolute fastest f$*king mid-engined V8 Ferrari in the hands of an amateur.
Yes, it’s softer and has more roll than the Pista. Yes, if we gave a Pista and an F8 to a racing driver there’s a good chance the former would be a bit quicker. But unless you’re an actual race car driver, you’ll be quicker in the F8 and you would have saved yourself some coin. Just ditch the awful stock road tyres for Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s or Pirelli Trofeo Rs.
The level of confidence in the F8 on a racetrack is staggering. It just begs you to go faster and faster, and although we kept pushing never once did we feel like it was close to its limit.
We haven’t yet put our own pro racing driver, Chris Atkinson, behind the wheel, but Ferrari’s instructors managed a 53.44 seconds lap around the QR Sprint configuration which is pretty damn impressive.
On a more seat of your pants assessment, the F8 is effing quick. Is it quicker than the 720S? It doesn’t feel like it. They both claim the same 0-100km/h time, but the McLaren’s engine feels more responsive and less laggy lower down in the rev range. Nonetheless, it’s still unbelievably fast.
All the praise aside – and there is a lot of it – there’s one overwhelming problem with the Ferrari F8 Tributo that is hard to overlook. It sounds like a Dyson on its last legs. Truly, the noise isn’t worthy of a Ferrari badge. Even the old California T sounded better. This is not entirely Maranello’s fault, however.
Although it carries the same engine as the Pista (mostly), the F8 has petrol particulate filters (for emissions) that simply kill the noise more than two turbos ever could. It also comes out at a time when crackles and pops are no longer acceptable in Europe, and the sound test used for compliance can no longer be passed in the quiet mode of the car but must be conducted in every driving mode.
It’s not so much that we’re going to tell you the 458 Italia and the 458 Speciale sound glorious and make you feel alive (they do), it’s that we’re going to tell you the F8 sounds significantly worse than even the 488 (it really does). The good news is we believe you can fix it pretty easily with an aftermarket exhaust that replaces the emissions gear with something that’ll enhance the lives of those who get to hear it drive past.
Overall, if you ignore the noise of the Ferrari F8 Tributo, it will end up going down in history as one of the Italian brand’s most accomplished ‘sport’ series vehicles.
It’s also a fitting end to the V8 era for Ferrari, and sparked a sad realisation we’ll soon have six-cylinder hybrid Ferraris that make us go “Do you remember how good the F8 sounded?”.
Despite this car costing at least $600,000 on-road by the time you have optioned it to your liking, the servicing and maintenance are actually free for the first seven years.
The standard three-year warranty is also extendable, and factory-backed in near perpetuity. The moral of the story? So as long as you take care of your Ferrari, Ferrari will take care of you.
It’s hard to really describe the Ferrari F8 Tributo without using hyperbole. But in all seriousness, this is a stupidly fast car that makes you look like a superhero on track and a pro on the road.
It’s more than comfortable enough for a daily and feels right at home on a track. It’s a little old-fashioned on the inside and needs a ton of options to make it right, but as the Italians say… that’s ‘normale’.
The F8 has returned McLaren’s 720S serve with serious attitude. It may not have crazy wings that move when you brake or an engine that sounds anywhere near as good as the Huracan Evo, but the F8 is hard not to fall in love with.
Frankly, the only people who should be upset about the F8 Tributo are Pista owners.