2022 Ferrari F8 Tributo
Ease & Whizz Mid-life crisis at Ferrari? No – just mid-life reinvention, as the 488 GTB evolves into the F8 Tributo. Ferrari says its latest V8 is not only faster but easier to drive in every respect. How true is that? Story by Chris Rees Photography by Michael Ward.
Ease & Whizz How easy is the F8 to use every day?
In the past, supercars have had a reputation for being tricky to drive. Last month we featured the 365 Daytona and reported on its heave-ho steering, hefty clutch and recalcitrant gearbox – all typically ‘challenging’ characteristics of exotic cars.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Supercars are very capable of being engineered with docility in mind. Reading Ferrari’s literature about the latest F8 Tributo, it says “performance is easier to access and use” compared to the car it’s replaced (the 488 GTB). Well, take this review as a test of that claim. Can extreme power – fully 720hp here – really be delivered in a mid-engined car with ease? Just how benign can such a beast be?
It’s easy to forget that the F8 Tributo is actually a facelift of the 488 GTB, first seen in 2015, so different does it look. It retains only the 488’s roof and doors; every other body panel is different. Our test car certainly looks resplendent in Blu Corsa paint – a £7104 option, incidentally. Speaking of costs, the base price of the F8 Tributo is £203,516 but ours has, er, a few options. OK, lots of options – like £122k worth. That includes an eye-watering £40,608 of exterior carbon parts and £31,968 of carbon inside. I’ve got the chance, over a bank holiday weekend, to assess whether it can be easy to drive, and if so whether that makes it more or less rewarding overall.
In Ferrari’s sometimes convoluted syntax, the name ‘F8 Tributo’ honours the car’s V8 engine. And here’s the first test: how easy is it to live with a 720hp twin-turbo V8? Multi-award winning the F154 V8 may be, but to me it’s never sounded all that exciting. Noise is one aspect of significant evolution for the F8 Tributo. The V8 is now beefier in the woofer department and more sparkling at the tweeter end. As well as being much nicer-sounding, it’s also noisier. On a passenger ride, my 10-year-old nephew clapped his hands over his ears, so loud are things at full throttle. Thank Ferrari’s patented ‘hot-tube resonator’ for that – a special channel that transmits the exhaust note direct to the cabin. But said nephew still emerged from the car with a grin, so the first box gets a big tick.
As everyone knows – or should know, at any rate – it’s torque that makes a car easy to drive. Thanks to twin turbochargers, the F8’s peak torque of 770Nm arrives at a mere 3250rpm. Moreover, the throttle response is almost entirely lag-free. Nor does it let up, the engine happily revving to 8000rpm, with the full 720hp of beans available between 7000 and cutoff at 8000. Yet it can be very relaxed on the motorway, and reasonably refined – so that’s another easy-living box ticked.
What about handling? Ferrari promises that this is “accessible to a larger number of drivers thanks to vehicle dynamics systems that make driving on the limit easier”. One big advance is that the Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer control shenanigans now work when the manettino is switched to Race mode, as well as in the lairier CT Off and ESC Off positions.
But… our car is fitted with optional Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres (yours for £2880), which really need heat in them to work well. On our typical British bank holiday, when temperatures barely reached double figures, this proved a big challenge. Priming tyre heat (handily displayed on the dashboard) by applying the brakes firmly a few times seemed to do the trick. Incidentally, like every Ferrari these days, the brakes are carbon-ceramic as standard and work amazingly well, or they do once they have some heat in them; on a cold start, they need a real hoofing to get them to work properly.
Once they reach around 35 degrees, the tyres offer astonishing grip. When you provoke the rear end with the throttle, it all feels very benign: you can keep the power on, counter-steer, and it all stays very much together. Even if you throttle-off mid-corner – a big nono in old-school supercars – the control systems keep you on track and you never feel it’s got away from you. You can even confidently tackle potholed British tarmac with some confidence thanks to the ‘Bumpy Road’ button, which eases the ride without affecting handling significantly, keeping your pace up. And yes, ride comfort is another area where the F8 proves surprisingly easy to live with.
There is one thing above all that makes the F8 Tributo so easy to pilot: the gearbox. Like all Ferraris since 2011, it’s fitted with self-shifting transmission (see our feature on page 28 to learn about that ever-evolving story). At start-up, the gearbox defaults to auto mode and depending on which manettino setting you choose, it’ll either change up at the lowest possible rev speed (Wet and Sport) or go fullon rev-happy (Race and above).
You can change gears manually with the steering wheel paddles, which is always delicious. I admit I normally miss the opportunity a manual gearbox gives you to dip the clutch pedal when you’re on the limit, offering an extra dimension of control as the rear end breaks away. But in the F8, I don’t really miss it, since the car’s electronics help you out so effectively and so imperceptibly. OK, it may not be quite as engaging for the driver but ultimately you’ll be faster and have more fun because you have that extra degree of confidence that the car’s not going to bite you.
Here’s another ‘ease and whizz’ function: launch control makes it so simple to achieve ultra-fast takeoffs without wheelspin. It was only when I forgot to follow the correct procedure before engaging launch control that I discovered its true effectiveness, as the rear end squirmed like a rubber-laying snake in a moment of high drama.
OK, so the F8 is easy to drive, huh? Hang on, not so fast. This is a pretty extreme supercar and sometimes it doesn’t want you to forget that. Obviously there’s a performance potential that lies well beyond what public roads can accommodate pretty much all of the time. Those 720 horses deliver unbelievable speed: 0- 62mph in 2.9 seconds, 0-124mph in 7.8 seconds and a top whack of 211mph.
There are so many other reminders of its extremes.
First off, the challenge of simply getting into it, then getting comfortable. OK, the F8 is way easier to enter and exit than the Lambo Huracán, but that’s just about the only car I can think of that’s trickier. The standard seats are pretty flat and broad, so I’m pleased to be greeted by optional Daytona seats in our test car. They not only look lovely but also feel gorgeous to sit in.
Adjustment is entirely manual – fine in my book; who needs heavy electric motors? – but one problem is the non-adjustable headrest, meaning it’s not always easy to get comfortable. Oh, and our car is fitted with four-point harnesses – great for track work but a right royal pain on daily business.
Ergonomically, I think Ferrari has missed a trick with the F8. Despite being changed in major ways over the 488, the dashboard remains a scattery mess, like a playground where toddlers have randomly abandoned switches and knobs. When you turn the steering wheel, all the buttons (indicators, wipers, lights) swivel with it, leaving you flummoxed when you want to press one. Having to remove your hand from the steering wheel to operate the cruise control is also a terrible idea. Ferrari’s new display screens, as seen on the new SF90 Stradale, can’t come soon enough to the rest of the range in my view, although I must say the letterbox passenger touchscreen (optional at £2592) is absolutely brilliant.
Next: seeing out. Again the F8 is way better than its Lambo rival in this regard but its F40-style Lexan rear screen – uber-cool though it looks from the outside – makes it a real pain to see out of: condensation can’t be cleared and its louvres vibrate in a miasma of blur. Then there’s the reaction of other road users. So many people want to race you, it’s absurd, and while some drivers couldn’t be happier to see you on the road, a few just don’t want to give you any space at all.
I guess my question at the end of long weekend with the F8 Tributo is: should a car like this be easy to drive? In my book, supercars are all about delivering enjoyment on the edge. The fact that the F8 is easy to drive (for the most part) on the edge, as well as everyday pootling around, is a massive positive. Yes, it has a dark side that’s rude and extreme – that’s what supercars are about – but it doesn’t want to kill you. Ultimately, the F8 is the opposite of a one-trick pony: it’s a thoroughbred horse that won’t throw you out of the saddle. Easy? Not exactly. Let’s just say a mightily complete all-rounder.
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS 2022 Ferrari F8 Tributo
- ENGINE: 3902cc V8 twin-turbo
- MAX POWER: 720hp at 8000rpm
- MAX TORQUE: 770Nm at 3250rpm
- DIMENSIONS: 4611mm (L), 1979mm (W), 1206mm (H)
- WEIGHT: 1330kg (dry)
- FUEL CONSUMPTION: 26.2mpg
- CO2: 245g/km
- 0-62MPH: 2.9sec
- MAX SPEED: 211mph
- PRICE: £203,516
Easy to drive? The F8 can be, once you get past things like the awkward Lexan rear screen. Temperament can switch from benign cruiser to all-out extreme racer at the touch of a button.
“The tyres really need heat in them to work well, which proved a big challenge ”