- Ferrari replaces with the F8 Tributo, a mid-engined, V-8–powered sports car.
- As the name implies, it is a tribute to the automaker's lineage of mid-engined cars.
- The F8 Tributo makes 710 hp from the same 3.9-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 used in the 488 Pista.
The very literal name Ferrari has bestowed on its 488GTB replacement, F8 Tributo, is a hint as to what it's up to here. This is a return to form, on an optics level, for Ferrari's mid-engined eight-cylinder sports car, which experienced a hard break when the 458 Italia arrived in 2010. That car's form valued function over beauty, and it had two single round taillights instead of four; when it evolved into the 488GTB, Ferrari really let its hair down and turbocharged its V-8, an act of autoerotic suffocation that exploded the engine's power at the expense of the free-breathing noise we'd come to expect from Maranello's eights. It still had two taillights.
The F8, then, is a true tributo—Italian for tribute, in case that wasn't obvious—to mid-engined Ferraris gone by. There are, for example, four round taillights poking from its tail, as there have been on similar models going back to the 308 (and before that, the not-quite-Ferrari Dino cars). The V-8 remains turbocharged, but hey, so was the iconic F40's V-8—and Ferrari promises it will deliver "an evocative soundtrack." And the entire car is actually pretty, a descriptor we wouldn't use for several Ferraris designed in-house in recent years, a period during which the Italian automaker's longtime design partner, Pininfarina, was cut out of the process.
Ignore the red paint on the F8 pictured here, and you'll notice several differences between it and the 488GTB. The headlights, for starters—Ferrari fans will think they're the same as the 488's, but what appears to be the darkened upper half of each one is actually a brake-cooling duct. Lighting comes courtesy of thin, horizontal LED strips positioned below these holes. Everything ahead of the windshield pulls forward to nearly a point around a new S-Duct, an aerodynamic pass-through from the lower bumper to a rearward-facing vent in the center of the hood that was borrowed from the hard-core 488 Pista and increases the F8's overall downforce (relative to the 488GTB) by 15 percent on its own.
The 488's already aggressive wedgelike shape has been whittled down further for the F8. Each wheel seems to yank the bodywork away from the two-seat central fuselage, and Ferrari's stylists have balanced aerodynamic concerns against beauty better here than in any recent project. Nothing looks tacked on or strange. The rear spoiler flows out of the rear fenders seamlessly, while every gash and opening in the bodywork has been tastefully integrated into the body lines. Standout features include the Lexan rear window, which is louvered like that on the F40; the tight bubble-look roof; and the way the two elements merge and tuck in between the rear fenders and spoiler like a G-string.
By comparison, the interior represents a stylistic cold shower—in a good way. Like the 488GTB and the 458 before it, the F8's cabin is businesslike and frill-free. Well, almost. Ferrari has installed its latest infotainment setup, which includes a pair of displays flanking the tachometer ahead of the driver and a small touchscreen readout placed ahead of the passenger that can keep them abreast of performance parameters such as speed and engine rpm; the little screen also can show navigation and audio information. As before, a row of push-button transmission controls lives on a thin console between the seats; the rest of the controls (save for the brake and gas pedals) live on or around the steering wheel.
A litany of new software additions help corral the F8's burly V-8, and are controlled via the manettino drive-mode switch on that steering wheel. Ferrari's latest Side Slip Angle Control traction- and stability-control program is present and allows even not-good drivers to appear heroic behind the wheel. (In our experience, the feature helps drivers steer and lay the power down with less finesse and without expensive consequences.) The Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer, which is an electronic program for managing drifts and not, ahem, the social boost equitable to purchasing a Ferrari, can now be used in the hard-core, otherwise hands-off Race drive mode.
Oh, and the F8 Tributo's engine—it has one. It's the same 3.9-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 used in the 488GTB, juiced appropriately for use in an all-new car. Output rises from 661 horsepower and 561 lb-ft of torque to 710 horsepower and 568 lb-ft—basically, the standard F8's engine is the same as that used in the high(er)-performance 488 Pista model that capped the 488's production run. As before, peak horsepower hits at 8000 rpm. The marginally higher torque peak lands 250 rpm later, at 3250 rpm. Final transmission details are forthcoming, but expect a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission; the F8 is, of course, rear-wheel drive.
So, is the F8 Tributo still turbocharged? Yes, twice over. Was Pininfarina deeply involved in its every curve? Nope. Does it promise the same modern supercar performance delivered by the 488, which we're big fans of, and then some? We'll wait until we drive it, but you could guess. Meanwhile, the car's wrapper looks to recapture the ephemeral beauty and drama that made ancestors such as the 360 Modena, F355, 308, and others so intoxicating. A tribute but not retro, high tech but not in your face about it, the F8 Tributo is an exciting realignment for Ferrari's mid-engine, eight-cylinder history.