How do you improve on perfection - or near perfection? That's what Ferrari has been trying to do with each of its newer cars over the past few years. And you know what? It has actually been able to achieve that to quite an extent. So, when I touched down in sandy Dubai to test drive this latest, most modern, and one of the most exciting new cars from the Prancing Horse, I have to be honest - my excitement was steadily building. The Ferrari F8 Tributo is the latest in a long and legendary lineup of V8 cars to have driven out of Maranello. And yes, I can tell you by the time you're done reading this you will agree with me that it is the most exciting. That's not just because it's modern or that it offers the very latest cutting-edge engineering from Ferrari. It's also because the car retains the true character of what it is meant to be, while still outperforming your wildest expectations. It is after all Ferrari's most powerful road-going production V8 model. Ever.
The F8 Tributo is every bit a Ferrari V8 mid-rear-engined Berlinetta in its styling, and yet is not necessarily what you might call beautiful. It does not have the flair and panache of the previous Pininfarina designed V8s like the 360 Modena or F430. Yet the in-house design achieves many things. First, it builds on the already successful 488 GTB's looks. Second, it is eye-catching, modern and very low slung. And finally, as I have already said - it is unmistakably a Ferrari (unlike the Roma for instance that many feel has become a bit brand neutral.
You will be forgiven for thinking that this is a facelift of the Ferrari 488 GTB because in many ways it is. And yet there's enough here for it to qualify as an all-new model. And in case you're wondering, the name Tributo is very obviously a tribute to Ferrari's glorious V8 family over the years and especially this particular award-winning engine that has served it extremely well of late. Of course, the tribute might also point to how Ferrari will in all likelihood move to a hybrid powertrain in future cars in this segment. So, this could be a final farewell of sorts to the V8 as we know it. Overall the F8 sheds 30 kgs of weight - there is a Lexan visor, new bumpers and a carbon fibre rear spoiler. But most of that weight loss is in the engine.
The 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 engine comes from the previous 488 GTB, but not the stock car. Instead, it comes from the 488 Pista. That means this 710 bhp engine has 50 bhp more power than the 488 GTB did, and yet it's just over 18 kgs lighter. Torque is up 10 Nm at 770 Newton metres. The car gets a lot of the modifications first seen on the track focussed 488 Challenge. Its air intake is all new, so are the cylinder heads and pistons (to be able to take on more load). The 488 Pista's titanium conrods, flywheel and crankshaft are also carried over to the F8. Enhanced aerodynamics, a new Side Slip Control system, torque vectoring (that Ferrari calls Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer - the F8 gets the new FDE+), give you smoother cornering and quicker exits from those corners. And then the car's exhaust has been reworked to - yes - wait for it - be a bit quieter than before. Mamma Mia! Well, you have new regulations and legislation in many parts of the world to thank for that.
But never mind all this - you are just wondering how the car drives, aren't you? I took it out of the city to find out. On the highway, the car did everything I expected - fast lane changes, instant acceleration, quick gearshifts, and it has superb manoeuvrability. I headed on the highway towards the Al Faya Desert in Sharjah. As soon as you exit the motorway, the roads get narrower, but thankfully they retain their excellent smooth tarmac quality. They also get very very empty - which was great for me to test the car well. The F8 Tributo is super quick. A flick of the paddle and the car leaps ahead. It does 0-100 kmph in just 2.9 seconds! It will go 200 kmph in an astonishing 7.6 seconds. The top speed is 340 kmph. And the great part is - that level of performance is very evident in how it drives. The car's Variable Boost Management allows it to give up a build of torque through the gears, which eliminates turbo lag. The engine is free-revving and goes up to 8000 rpm very quickly - regardless of what gear you are in most of the time! The 7-Speed DCT gearbox keeps up and delivers the quickest upshifts possible - so much so you barely feel them.
While I loved the car's steering - it's the chassis that impresses the most. The F8 has immense control and poise, even when it is tearing the tarmac to shreds. The electronics do a fabulous job of keeping the car in control at all times and giving you the sense of both refinement and effortlessness - while maintaining ear-splitting performance. Speaking of which - yes, the noise may not be enough for the purists, but there was enough of a roar, growl and scream to keep me very happy! The car can also be enjoyed on longer drives - as I realised whilst crisscrossing the desert roads all day. It does have the Bumpy Road mode (a damper setting seen on the 458 Italia and 488 GTB too) that allows you to glide a bit easier and smoother on well. bumpy roads! This does give the car a GT like character, and its ease of use and comfort, coupled with its excellent driveability make this a more practical yet vicious Ferrari V8.
This car will give the Lamborghini Huracan and McLaren 720 S a run for their money (we do not have the latter in India of course). As a successor to the 488 GTB, the F8 is no doubt heading to us in India too. The launch is expected by the end of April 2020; and prices will start at ₹ 4.02 Crore.