Addictive mid-engined marvel scores a 10 for track performance. It deserves the same for overall desirability.

Turbocharging has had a big impact on Ferrari’s mid-engined super sportscars, and for the most part it’s proven very positive indeed. Fifteen years ago it seemed incredible that the F430’s 4.3-litre V8 produced just shy of 500 horsepower in old money. The new F8 Tributo offers comfortably more than 700bhp from 3902cc and a comparative avalanche of twin-turbocharged torque to boot. And it still wails to the heavens when extended, has kept kerb weight well in check, and probably eclipses the scorching pace and handling prowess of masterful predecessors like the 458 Speciale. In fact, the series-production F8 appears to snap at the heels of the decidedly hardcore 488 Pista which is about as good as it gets below hypercar ranks.

To say the F8’s heavily ducted bodywork is aerodynamically enhanced is some understatement, especially when you cast your mind back to the less complex lines of the 360 Modena or F430. However, and this is a huge however, the F8 Tributo looks sensational at first sight, even better from any angle upon further inspection, and tattoos itself into the enthusiast’s memory bank by simply standing still. And that seems to be unanimous opinion, not just Garage talk.

It’s a gilt-edged future classic, then, and the fact that it will be produced in smaller numbers and for a shorter time than the 488 GTB and Spider will quickly cement that status.

Expect the F8 to feel surprisingly civilised behind the wheel. As with all modern Ferraris, it is remarkably user-friendly and comfortable to drive from the outset. Increase the tyre pressures, rotate the mannetino dial to Sport or Race and, from our experience, you’re soon fizzing around a race track at ridiculous speeds and enjoying new-found levels of balance and stability that seem outrageous for a series production car that cocoons you in soft leather and thick carpet and will cope admirably with everyday driving.

What helps make the chassis really dance is an updated version of Side Slip Control. It combines with Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer, an adaptive yaw control system that operates in all driver modes. Acceleration out of bends is explosive because 770Nm of torque from 3250rpm is serious muscle in anyone’s book, especially when you only have 1,435 low-set, precisely balanced kilos to propel.

Fuelled with confidence, drivers can concentrate on the incisive and extremely quick steering and extracting the best from potent carbon-ceramic stoppers. While extremely effective on a circuit, the brakes have characteristics that require some familiarisation before you feel fully in the zone around Hampton Downs and the huge performance is both huge fun and highly accessible.

What’s certain is it’s never been as easy and pleasurable to deploy the full force of one of Ferrari’s greatest V8s. The soundtrack is reassuringly bombastic, and having some turbo whistle and wastegate chatter in the mix only adds to the drama. From the driver’s seat, it’s hard to say whether the high-revving howl resonates more than the bark of the exhausts upon transmission shifts, the downshifts being punctuated by sharp throttle blips that make scrubbing off speed sound as dramatic as its creation.

Icing on the cake for some buyers is the extra utility of the retractable-roofed F8 Spider variant. It made its debut at the Hampton Downs event, and proved that admitting sunshine to the cabin makes the addictive sound and fury more accessible, and does nothing to compromise style, handling or performance.

Photography: Chris Dillon



ENGINE 3902cc V8 twin-turbo

POWER 529kW (710bhp)

TORQUE 770Nm from 3250rpm

TRANSMISSION 7-spd dual-clutch

DRIVETRAIN Rear-wheel drive

WEIGHT 1435kg

LENGTH 4.61m

WHEELS 20-inch alloy

TYRES 245/35 (f) 305/30 (r)

0-100km/h 2.9 secs

TOP SPEED 340km/h

PRICE from $464,000



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