There’s an urban legend that states that human beings only use 10 percent of their brain’s capacity. Imagine the sheer potential that awaits if we were to harness the power of that other 90 percent. But the reality is that over the course of a normal day, the majority of us do tap into the full 100 percent of our gray matter. Just … not all at once.
The 2020 Ferrari F8 Tributo, on the other hand, has absolutely no problem accomplishing this feat. Here is a supercar designed to enable its driver to operate at the fullest extent of their ability—and then some. Do those percentages add up? It’s all in how you do the math.
Building on the brilliant 488 GTB (the 2017 MotorTrend Best Driver’s Car, by the way), the F8 Tributo manages to improve on its predecessor in nearly every way. The overall chassis carries over, but Ferrari has made significant upgrades to the engine, refined the aerodynamic profile, and even managed to save some weight in the process.
Let’s start with that engine. Ferrari took the 3.9-liter twin-turbo V-8 used in the track-focused 488 Pista and revised it even further with lessons learned from its Challenge and Formula 1 racing divisions. Improved airflow throughout the combustion process increases volumetric efficiency, and engine internals were beefed up to handle the additional pressure. Even the air intakes on either side of the rear spoiler were redesigned to better feed air to the freer-breathing engine. It’s all topped off with your choice of intake plenums: red-painted aluminum or optional carbon fiber. The result: 710 horsepower arrives at a lofty 8,000 rpm, all from an engine that is 40 pounds lighter than the one found in the 488 GTB.
The car is lighter by 48 pounds overall, thanks to the use of a carbon-fiber spoiler, a louvered rear window fashioned out of Lexan, a revised cooling system, and an optional lithium-ion starter battery sourced from the 488 Challenge. Ferrari offers a set of 20-inch carbon-fiber wheels as an option, should you wish to further lighten your wallet, as well as your unsprung corners.
While we’re using the math portion of our brain, how about a few more numbers: Thanks to the improved power and reduced weight, the F8 Tributo will rip from 0 to 62 mph in 2.9 seconds, hit 124 mph just 4.9 seconds after that, and achieve a blistering top speed of 211 mph.
Inside and out, the F8 Tributo’s styling is a further evolution of the 488 GTB. Up front, an S-duct channels air from just below the front bumper to the revised cooling system, which then exits through the center of the sunken, sculpted hood. There’s also a new headlight array, joined out back by—finally—quad taillights. Ferraris just look better with four lights in the rear. Inside the cabin, noticeable improvements include round air vents shaped like jet engine nacelles, a smaller steering wheel, and updated infotainment options.
All of these updates are most certainly welcome, but what’s it like to drive? In a word, magnificent. Out on the rough, narrow roads of rural Italy, the F8 Tributo is as comfortable as a German sedan, albeit with much better reflexes. Credit the Bumpy Road setting of the adjustable dampers. The burble of the V-8 is such an essential component of the experience that I’m actually startled out of my reverie when the stop/start system kills it at a stoplight.
I do wish, however, that the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission wasn’t so greedy to gobble up the highest gear possible during sedate driving. And when looking in the rearview mirror, the louvers in the Lexan rear window seriously distort rearward visibility. But those mere nitpicks are easily solved by looking forward and driving quickly. What’s behind you doesn’t matter, as the Grand Old Man used to say.
Despite having a 41.5/58.5 front/rear weight distribution, the F8’s Tributo high-speed stability is surprisingly impressive, thanks in part to the 15 percent increase in downforce provided by the S-duct.
Just as I merge onto the Autostrada back toward Maranello, a family in an Audi RS6 Avant (with two car seats in the back!) blows past in the left lane. I tuck in behind and give chase. Get on boost at high speed, and the F8 Tributo’s V-8 soundtrack is overlaid with blasts of high-pressure air being shoved directly into the engine. Perhaps the music isn’t classically Italian, but it’s a thrilling score nonetheless. I peel off at the exit for Modena, and the RS6 driver toots his horn in farewell.
With such staggering performance numbers, the F8 Tributo really deserves to be driven on a track. Invigorated after my drive, I join Ferrari development test driver Fabrizio Toschi for a few laps around Ferrari’s famed Pista di Fiorano test circuit.
Toschi is a man of few words, preferring instead to communicate through the language of driving. As we conclude a warm-up lap around the circuit, he eases off the F8 Tributo’s accelerator . “We wait for the first lap. Then you can push … pushpushpush.”
Decelerating near the beginning of the front straight, Toschi points to a trackside sign that reads “Gas Off.” Apparently, not everyone in town is a fan of the aria of supercars, and this brief sonic pause on the track is Ferrari’s concession to their concerns. We coast onto the straight to reveal a “Gas On” sign lurking just beyond the bridge.
As it turns out, “push” is Italian for “bury the accelerator into the floor.” A feral growl fills the cabin, and the F8 Tributo gains speed ferociously down what’s left of the straightaway. Toschi stays fully on the gas as he barrels through a negligible curve, straightens out, and continues accelerating all the way to the braking zone before Turn 1. Initial entry into this D-shaped right-hander is tight before it unfolds into a gentle arc all the way through Turn 2. Toschi cranks the wheel, and the F8 Tributo heads straight for the apex.
An apex is quite literally the pivot point for a corner. As the wheel is turned, judicious drivers patiently count down the milliseconds until the car passes the midpoint and they can begin to unwind. Adding more power before this moment—especially in a high-horsepower rear-drive car—can easily cause the rear end of the car to step out or spin.
Either Toschi has suddenly forgotten this fact, or he doesn’t care. Midcorner, he glances over at me, simply says, “Push,” and nails it. Miraculously, the F8 Tributo stays firmly planted on its initial trajectory and gains considerable momentum, as well.
This physics-taunting act is made possible by a combination of Ferrari’s Side Slip Control and Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer, a tag team of sensors and microprocessors that can make infinitesimal adjustments to the suspension, brakes, and power delivery in a completely unobtrusive manner. If this isn’t an example of using 100 percent of your brainpower, I don’t know what is. So while Fabrizio adds power through the corner, all those systems are working in concert to find the maximum amount of grip and stability while continuing to put down as much power as possible. Unlocking this achievement is as easy as turning the manettino dial on the steering wheel to Race.
Purists may scoff, but let’s be honest: Casually exploring the slip angles and limits of adhesion in a 710-horsepower supercar without the safety net of modern technology is like giving your cat a bath. It’s highly likely one or both parties will end up hurt. Sure, these systems can make anyone look like a hero, but in the hands of drivers who genuinely want to improve their skills, this is a fantastic way to do it.
Besides, what’s the point of having a big brain if you can’t show off a little? On the next lap, Toschi twists the dial to CT-Off. “Now for some fun,” he says. Once again on the first turn, he nails it midcorner, but this time the rear end of the F8 Tributo swings out—and stays put as Fabrizio drifts around the corner. The level of precision to the drift angle is magnificent. Yes, I’m riding with one of the most skilled drivers in Italy, but it again demonstrates the F8 Tributo’s ability to find the absolute limits of power and adhesion then keep you there for as long as you can stand it.
After that, I’m granted a measly two laps to myself on the test circuit, and I have nothing exciting to share about those brief minutes. Carrying a price tag that’s about a hundred grand more than a four-year stint at an Ivy League school, the F8 Tributo is not something you wish to risk damage in: to it, your wallet, or your ego.
But I will say this: Even when driven at its most extreme, the F8 Tributo is never violent. The gearbox swaps cogs with a brisk efficiency, steering is quick yet never twitchy, and the brakes simply do what you ask of them. G-forces pin you to the seat, and the world around you rushes by in a canted, dizzying blur, yet the F8 Tributo remains fully composed and in full command of its faculties. In other words, it’s smarter than I am. And you know what? I’m OK with that.
The post Review: The 710-HP Ferrari F8 Tributo is Smarter Than You appeared first on MotorTrend.