By: Tarek Hawchar
Just four years after the launch of the 488 GTB, Ferrari felt it was time to bring in some new blood, and the new-blood wild car is the 2020 F8 Tributo. As its name suggests, the newcomer is a “tribute” to the Prancing Horse’s award-winning 3.9-liter eight-cylinder engine—A series of throbbing engines that have powered Ferrari’s most iconic cars since its first road-going V-8 in the 1975 Ferrari 308 GTB. Yes, Ferrari is paying tribute to itself!
The F8 Tributo is designed to combine the everyday usability of the old 488GTB with the scorching performance of the track-ready 488 Pista
Unveiled at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, the F8 Tributo is an entry-level, mid-engined supercar to replace the Italian manufacturer’s 488 GTB, just as both the 812 Superfast and GT4Lusso replaced the F12berlinetta and FF, respectively. With a 3.9-liter twin-turbo, 720-hp engine, 770 Nm of torque, and a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the F8 Tributo is more powerful and aerodynamic than its predecessor—the 488 GTB.
Luckily, the F8 Tributo is designed to combine the everyday usability of the old 488GTB with the scorching performance of the limited-run, track-ready 488 Pista. Simply put, it is a “more user-friendly 488 Pista”!
Before climbing behind the wheel of this “untamed beast”, we expected that the F8 Tributo would be as exhilarating and fantastic to drive as the frenetic 488 Pista. Our expectations were high, and the supercar didn’t disappoint. We had the chance to fully explore the endless dynamic power that comes from the F8 Tributo’s potent engine on Ferrari’s Fiorano test track—surely a mind-blowing experience for sports-car lovers like us!
After that, we were given the opportunity to unleash the full potential of the F8 Tributo on a 300 km plus route through the craggy Apennine Mountains outside Modena, Italy. Whipping around narrow single-lane roads, the supercar handled with tremendous agility, given the sharp directional changes and fast curves of the road. It was great fun to push that “beast” to the very limit!
Subtle visual changes
Style-wise, the all-new F8 Tributo is unmistakably a Ferrari. While the new updates are not a massive deviation from that of the 488 GTB, they are notably distinguishable. Similarly, the F8 Tributo also borrowed some design traits from the track-focused 488 Pista.
According to Ferrari’s official press release, the F8 Tributo is “essentially a bridge to a new design language,” which means many design elements of the latest iteration will definitely make their way onto future models.
Adopting Ferrari’s latest design language on the exterior, the new F8 Tributo features a 488 Pista-inspired front bumper, including the central pillar and large outlets on the sides. Unlike the dual-vent design of the 488 GTB, there is a single large air scoop located in the center of the hood—a further nod to the F8 Tributo’s sporty sibling.
Moving further back, there are some important design updates. The 488 GTB’s twin taillight cluster has been replaced with a new quad LED design. The rear diffuser now sports aggressive fins and big exhaust pipes.
The exterior updates have helped to improve aerodynamic efficiency by 10 percent compared to the 488 GTB
Last but not least, the new Lexan engine cover pays homage to the legendary Ferrari F40. The cover’s three horizontal louvers help extract hot air from the engine bay, while increasing the rear downforce. They also serve an aerodynamic purpose!
According to the Italian brand, the exterior updates have helped to improve aerodynamic efficiency by 10 percent compared to the 488 GTB.
Dimensionally speaking, the mid-engined supercar has an overall length of 4611 mm and measures 1979 mm and 1206 mm in width and height, respectively, with a 2650 mm long wheelbase.
New interior too
Though Ferrari has completely overhauled the interior, it’s still reminiscent of the 488 GTB. Among the key interior highlights are the turbine-look circular air vents, a new steering wheel with reduced diameter, and a new seven-inch infotainment touchscreen display located at the dashboard directly in front of the passenger.
The sport bucket seats are amazingly comfortable and offer excellent lateral support, even for longer trips
Elsewhere, there is a mix of premium materials, including leather, carbon-fiber, and contrasting stitching. On the whole, the build quality is second to none, and the materials used in the F8 Tributo’s cabin are one step above the competition.
Likewise, the sport bucket seats are amazingly comfortable and offer excellent lateral support, even for longer trips and a few hours behind the wheel.
Real treasure under the hood
The real treasure of the new supercar is under the hood, where a twin-turbo, 3.9-liter V-8 engine is chugging out 720 hp and 770 Nm of torque—a 50 hp increase over the 488 GTB. Hooked to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission sending power to the rear wheels, the eight-cylinder unit enables the stiffened-up version of the 488 GTB to go from zero to 100 km/h in 2.9 seconds before hitting a top speed of 340 km/h.
It goes without saying that this powerful V8 engine has won a hatful of awards since it was introduced in the 488 GTB. It is the best engine of the past two decades, according to the International Engine of the Year jurors! However, Ferrari managed to shave a significant 18 kg off the engine alone in the F8 Tributo. In general, the overall weight of the F8 is 1330 kg—a 40 kg drop compared to its predecessor.
When we mashed the accelerator, and this powerful engine was let loose on the track at Ferrari's Fiorano, all hell broke loose
While the F8 Tributo has the same engine as the 488 Pista and boasts similar overall performance figures, it is still 0.05 seconds slower than the 488 Pista when it comes to the zero-to-100 km/h sprint.
On the technology front, the new mid-engined supercar sports a host of advanced and innovative gadgets, including the latest version of the Side Slip Angle Control. The latter system is integrated with the E-Diff3, F1-Trac, the magnetorheological suspension (SCM), and the Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer (FDE). First introduced in the 488 Pista, the FDE adjusts the brake pressure and calipers, along with controlling the lateral dynamics in the more track-focused Race mode!
When we mashed the accelerator, and this powerful engine was let loose on the track at Ferrari's test circuit at Fiorano, all hell broke loose. We drove the supercar under different driving modes and completed four laps. Our best lap time on that amazing racetrack was one minute and 25 seconds—Ferrari says the F8 can lap the Fiorano in one minute and 22.5 seconds!
Thanks to an ideal weight-to-power ratio of 1.85 hp/liter, low center of gravity, a high-revving 720-hp V-8 engine with a deafening roar, and good steering that provides great connection to the road, the successor to the 488 GTB has everything it takes to provide an exhilarating driving experience with no turbo lag.
Needless to say, the supercar’s most important feature is its firm suspension that allowed us to handle the tightest bends on the undulating mountainous roads of Italy. Overall, the F8 Tribute is a terrific supercar worth every penny and has no chinks in its armor.