On the track you’re on your own, on the Arc de Triomphe roundabout they’re all out to get you! The Ferrari F8 Tributo puts you in pole position.
I took my son in the Ferrari F8 Tributo to Paris for the tour of a lifetime. To acquaint yourself with such a chef d’oeuvre you must challenge yourself and the car. And boy was it fun around the massive roundabout that is the Arc de Triomphe.
The Ferrari F8 Tributo Spider is the upgrade to the terrific 488 and lies between it and the Pista. Think of it as the younger sibling, faster, lighter and stronger but with the same DNA. Ferrari began their open-top V8 cars with the 308 GTS in 1977 and their legend continues with the new F8 Tributo Spider.
So the F8 has a 3.9 litre V8 90° twin-turbo rear mid-engine with 710 Bhp or 770 Nm of torque at 3250 rpm and a 7-speed, dual-clutch F1 gearbox. It does 0-62 mph in 2.9 s with a maximum speed of 211 mph and keeps that power going right until the 8000 rpm, achieving 124 mph in just 8.2 s. It weighs a mere 1400 kg dry which means that none of that lovely torque is wasted.
It’s 40 kgs lighter than the 488 too. Inconel exhaust manifolds derived from the 488 Challenge contribute 9.7 kg to the lighter engine weight. The exhaust line also features a new Gasoline Particulate Filter (GPF) to comply with new homologation requirements. 17% less inertia too for increased cornering speed.
And of course its rear-wheel-drive for drift lovers everywhere.
Length is 4.6 metres, a smidgen under two metres wide with a weight distribution of 41.5% to the front and 58.5% to the rear. There are 200 litres of boot capacity in the front, so enough for two medium travel bags and a couple of carry-ons.
The V8 engine has won 14 International Engine of the Year awards plus the best engine of the last two decades. You’ll get about 24 mpg on a normal journey, but we got better than that on the drive from London to Paris and back.
The exterior of the F8 is mind-blowing. Aerodynamically enhanced and perfectly balanced. Though in yellow it does draw an unbelievable amount of attention. One key design point from the Pista is the new S-duct in the bonnet, which draws all that air rushing into the front of the car and uses it as extra downforce. This perfectly balances the car, preventing the front wheels from lifting off as you accelerate, with the engine sitting over the back wheels.
The Ferrari design style is still the one to beat. The new slimmer front LED's are suitably menacing and complement the sloping bonnet with the undulating wheel arches. The latter frame the angled star-shaped alloys beautifully.
The side vents and fluting plus the curvaceous haunches complete the bedroom poster supercar look.
The retractable-hard-top is so well fitted you would never know it was a convertible with the roof up. Attractive large rear vents vacuum up the air to cool the magnificent V8 and lastly, the svelte rear spoiler has been redesigned, flowing over the twin dual rear lights, a nod to the 308 GTB. Black strakes frame the new central spine that emulates the flow of air finishing under the spoiler.
The F8 looks infinitely better from behind. I suppose you could always arrive in reverse and claim it makes parking easier. View the car from an angle of three quarters from the back to capture all its glory. You appreciate the massive engine, then the arched cabin that flows into the sloping bonnet. A joyous aerodynamic sculpture.
The retractable-hard-top folds back in two pieces, a mechanical marvel to be admired each time. Compact like a Targa, which also accounts for the swift movement. It takes 14 secs to complete and can be used up to 28 mph.
The interior is intensely driver-focused with a carbon fibre centre bridge with Launch, Auto and Reverse buttons that protrude cleanly for swift changes. The dash is black leather with contrast stitching which flows around the carbon fibre driver console. Rocket air vents inform you that this is no ordinary car and the 7” touchscreen passenger display (an extra £2,592) shows speed, gear, revs, mode and G force. Perfect for back seat driving from the passenger seat. Get the carbon fibre racing seats, they are superbly supportive and weigh next to nothing.
The start button and most of the controls are on the slightly smaller steering wheel, including the indicators, F1 style. Plus the plethora of driver assistance gadgets in no way detract from playing with the paddles yourself. It is tremendous fun to drive manually, though most will stick to automatic which is nigh on flawless.
The driver display is somewhat minimalist and focused on the rev counter in the centre, with two small side screens for speed, map and information.
The rear window can also be dropped with the roof up, so you can enjoy the engine sound even when it’s raining. The cabin is airy and spacious with good legroom and excellent visibility.
Overall it is a pleasing fusion of luxury and sports interior. You know you’re in a supercar, you’re comfortable and everything is solidly laid out for convenience at high speed. I guess you could call it sporty minimalist plush.
The F8 is a dream to drive. All that 710 bhp is handled by some very complex mechanics and software. There is zero turbo lag, it responds like it’s naturally aspirated rather than forced induction and gives you all that puissance instantly.
That V8 engine sound is perfectly pitched, which means you get to enjoy it without irritating those nearby. The notes rise like a Fleetwood Mac song, with the roar of power tempered by heartbreak. This is purely personal but this may be the best sounding engine ever.
Though the song to play while driving around Paris in the F8 Tributo is "Viens Mallika Sous Le Dome Edais From Lakme" by Howard Blake from the film "True Romance".
The red Manettino (little lever) on the steering wheel lets you pick Wet, Sport or Race mode and tunes the braking, suspension and throttle response accordingly. If you don’t feel you’re getting enough attention then Race mode will kick that engine up a roar or two. A bit like turning it up to 11. In Sports mode, it is sufficiently aggressive for any road and the engine sound is Goldilocks.
The acceleration is mesmerising, it blasts forward in every gear. The automatic gear changes are smooth and timed to perfection. The chassis is solid, you may feel the tiniest twist if you hit a large bump, but this seems to enhance its adherence to the road rather than reduce. The steering is poised and sharp, with excellent feedback. You know what the road is doing but have complete mastery. Pick the line and it holds flawlessly with zero understeer.
The response from the engine right from the start is impressive. The Ferrari Variable Torque Management delivers power at low revs and once you climb up past 3000 it is eye-wateringly ferocious. I have to admit I adore this engine. It is the Great V8. You don’t have to think, whatever your speed it will deliver massive bursts of acceleration instantaneously, seemingly forever. Drivers in Paris love to accelerate, then brake viciously and the F8 just puts you streets ahead of everyone else, even the motorbikes.
The rev-limiter employs a "Wall Effect" that completely stops the revs at 8000 rpm, rather than gradually reducing them as you near the limit, so you get the maximum power right to the end. Great for lap times, or even drag races. Push the accelerator and redline the revs. Plus you get the LED readout on the steering wheel too. Green to red, it’s like Christmas.
Massive ceramic brakes enhance the experience, tuned for aggressive deceleration, with no softness or lag typical in some luxury sports cars. The brake travel and response is linear so you can accurately measure your deceleration whatever your speed. Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer assists the brakes in the corners in Race mode so any little shift in road surface or slippage is accounted for. Plus the Side Slip Angle Control will keep you on the road if you do fluff the turn. You now also get FDE+ version 6.1 in Race mode.
It is 40 kg lighter than the 488, so if you're driving on your own you will notice the lightness in the corners, push it just that bit harder and you'll pivot like a ballet dancer. The extra 49 bhp is not to be sniffed at either.
Let’s not forget Adaptive Performance Launch, when you absolutely have to be the first off from the lights. APL reduces slippage so you the maximum grip and torque. 0-62 in 2.9 seconds is pretty unreal.
Ferraris seem to me to be the easiest sports cars to drive, despite their immense power. Ferrari nab innovations from their GT and Challenge racing experience to bring the best out in every driver. The drive to Paris was a breeze and powering around the roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe numerous times was simple, even with the hordes of cars cascading around us. No lanes and priority to those coming into the roundabout is a perfect test of acceleration, brakes and granular control. On the track you’re on your own, on the roundabout they’re all out to get you.
The Ferrari F8 Tributo Spider is a momentous supercar. Utterly exhilarating from the instant you sit behind the wheel. Every inch a stimulating Ferrari masterpiece. The performance is breathtaking and precise. I drove it 700 miles to Paris and back and could have continued touring comfortably across Europe The power and performance impart near godlike road abilities so any challenge becomes enormous fun. You only pay £20,000 more for the convertible which makes it a no-brainer. And like the 488 before it, the F8 is indisputably graceful, alluring and resplendent, particularly in yellow.
Every Ferrari comes with a seven-year maintenance programme that carries over if you sell it.
Prices start from £225,897
We stayed at the Hotel Montalembert for our trip.