The Ferrari F8 Tributo is billed as a replacement for the 488 GTB, Ferrari’s ‘entry-level’ mid-engined supercar, but in reality it’s a very heavy facelift of that model. Claimed to mix some of the grunt, grip and ‘gorblimey’ of the 488 Pista with the everyday civility of the 488 GTB, it could just be the greatest all-rounder of the current super sports car crop.
The ‘Tributo’ name? That’s a nod to the car featuring the most powerful V8 engine so far in a series-production Ferrari and as a celebration of the past 40-odd years of the firm’s mid-engined V8-powered berlinettas. Oh, and it could also be a ‘tribute’ to the pure internal combustion V8 before it’s given the hybridisation treatment, although nobody at Ferrari is willing to admit that. So there you go.
So, what do we have? Well, compared to the 488 GTB, the F8 Tributo delivers an extra 50bhp and a 10% improvement in aerodynamic efficiency, plus it weighs 30kg less – all of which gives credence to the claim that it’s faster and more agile than its predecessor.
You could take up all of the space in this review just talking about the engine itself, such are the changes. Based on the twin-turbocharged 3.9-litre unit used in the 488 Pista, the F8 Tributo’s V8 packs 710bhp at 8000rpm and 568lb ft (a very modest increase of 7lb ft over the 488 GTB) at 3250rpm. Air is now fed inside using the intake plumbing from the 488 Challenge race car, with the external intakes now housed either side of the rear spoiler for a shorter route to the redesigned plenums (available in either crackle red or carbonfibre, naturally). There are new valves and springs that work on a revised camshaft profile, plus the cylinder heads and pistons have been strengthened to cope with the increased loads.
Carried over from the 488 Pista are the titanium conrods, crankshaft and flywheel that help reduce inertia by 17%. Finally, there’s a new exhaust system that both improves gas flow and meets ever stricter noise legislation. That said, the inclusion of petrol particulate filters has also removed some of the exhaust’s natural bombast. To counter this, Ferrari’s engineers have created the Hot Tube Resonator, a pipe that runs from just downstream of one of the turbochargers, up through the C-pillar and to the bulkhead just behind the driver, where it delivers ‘natural’ augmented sound.
Aerodynamics also play their part in the higher power output, the enhancement in cooling airflow into the plenum resulting in a 15deg C drop in intake temperatures. Of course, most of the aerodynamic work has been aimed at boosting downforce without any increase in drag. To this end, the F8 Tributo adopts a similar S-duct layout as the 488 Pista, with air channelled in through the bumper and out over the bonnet, helping to deliver 15% of the F8’s overall downforce improvement. There’s also a new ‘blown’ rear spoiler that contributes 25% of the gain, while works in harmony with a revised rear diffuser (20%) that uses the now-familiar trio of adaptive flaps that are controlled automatically depending on a variety of factors including speed, load and yaw. Using lessons learned from both the 488 Pista and the 488 Challenge, the radiators housed in the nose have been repackaged, allowing the introduction of new front diffusers that deliver 25% of the aero gains, while in the middle of the underbody are vortex generators that conjure up the final 15%.
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With increased straight-line pace and improved aerodynamics comes the requirement for enhanced handling, which in the case of a Ferrari means even more sophisticated control systems. For starters, we’re now onto version 6.1 of the firm’s Side Slip Control (SSC), which allows every greater oversteer before seamlessly intervening to save tyres and blushes. This system now works with the Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer (FDE), which debuts its latest ‘Plus’ (FDE+) upgrade on the F8 Tributo. Essentially a very fancy torque vectoring and stability control system, it very subtly massages the brakes on the exit of corners for an even faster exit. Crucially, it now features a wider bandwidth, being able to operate in both Race and CT-off modes. Ferrari reckons the combination of SSC and FDE+ allows you to exit corners 6% faster than the 488 GTB, which is incremental to say the least. Spring and damper rates are, with some minor tweaking, pretty much the same as the 488 GTB’s.
The final piece of the performance increase puzzle is the reduction in weight. By using those titanium engine components, a Lexan rear screen, lighter front and rear bumpers and carbonfibre rear spoiler 30kg has been shaved from the 488 GTB’s kerb weight, meaning the F8 Tributo tips the scales at 1435kg. Opt for the 488 Pista-style carbonfibre wheels (which you’ll be able to do once the 488 Pista orders have been fulfilled) and you can lop a further 10kg from the overall figure.
How does the F8 Tributo evolve Ferrari’s styling?
Before you even so much as grab the door handle, you’ll need to take a moment to take in the F8 Tributo’s exterior, styled not by Pinninfarina but Ferrari’s in-house Centro Stile studio. The firm’s ever-increasing push to kneel at the altar of aerodynamics means the F8 Tributo isn’t an elegant car in the traditional sense, but there’s something very appealing about its overt visual aggression. The roof and doors are carried over from the 488 GTB, but everything else is new, with almost every scooped, scalloped, vented and vortexed surface having been penned with the single-minded pursuit of performance.
The focus is equally evident inside: the low-slung driving position helps place you squarely at the centre of the action, while there’s the familiar cowled rev-counter flanked by the TFT dials and new, smaller-diameter steering wheel that houses all the major controls within a finger or thumb stretch. The deep and wide windscreen gives a great view forward, while the minimalist layout of the dashboard reinforces the sense of lightness. That’s not to say this is some stripped-out special; the acres of soft leather and artful slivers of carbonfibre mean this is an interior that exudes class.
How does the F8 Tributo perform on road and track?
Press the wheel-mounted red starter button and the V8 yelps into life before settling to an urgent idle. Pull the right-hand paddle to catch first in the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, squeeze the throttle and you’re away – quickly, because this thing is fast. Gasp then laugh at absurdity of it all fast. Ferrari claims the 0-62mph sprint takes 2.9sec, which is basically hypercar-quick. And it feels it. Name any mainstream McLaren model and the F8 Tributo feels like it has it covered.
The F8 Tributo is open for bookings through the Al Tayer Motors showroom in Dubai and the Premier Motors showroom in Abu Dhabi