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Why Ferrari chose to equip the F8 Tributo with the 'near-extinct' V8 engine

While electrification is the current buzzword in the automotive world, Ferrari continues to champion its prized V8 engines. Here's why.

Why Ferrari chose to equip the F8 Tributo with the 'near-extinct' V8 engine

The styling of the Ferrari F8 Tributo features a degree of complexity that gives it a touch of sophistication that is missing from the current crop of supercars. (Photo: Roberto Carrer and Lorenzo Marcinno)

Ferrari’s most popular model line has been its mid-engine V8 series, ever since the world saw the Ferrari 308 GTS and 488 Spider in the popular 1980s American television series, Magnum, PI.

Before these icons, the original model that started it all was the 308 GTB, which made its debut at the Paris Motor Show in 1975. Since then, Ferrari’s constant evolution of its V8 series has ensured its continued success.

The styling of the new F8 Tributo is a standout thanks to the talent at the Ferrari Centro Stile, the marque’s new design centre in Maranello headed up by design director Flavio Manzoni.

The mid‑rear-engined car features what is known as an aerothermal design that has air flowing around the car’s exterior as well as within it via air vents and channels under the car’s skin to extract heat built up from the engine.

However, with lessons garnered from the 488 Challenge race cars and later, the superb track-level 488 Pista, the F8 is aerodynamically 10 per cent more efficient. While it generates more downforce, it has also managed to reduce drag – or the automotive equivalent of having your cake and eating it.

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The mid‑rear-engined car features an aerothermal design, which sees air flowing around the car’s exterior and within it via air vents, and channels under the car’s skin to extract heat built up from the engine. (Photo: Roberto Carrer and Lorenzo Marcinno)

A TRIBUTE TO THE V8 ENGINE

As Tributo means tribute in Italian, Ferrari, in this case, is not paying homage to a person or an old Ferrari model, but its award‑winning turbocharged V8 engine. The marque has used turbocharging in its Formula One cars and 1987 F40 model, but it was only in 2015 that it started to rigorously incorporate the technology into its road cars, starting with the 670hp 488 GTB.

Turbocharging is a fairly easy way to get a huge power output, but the downside is that the elastic delivery of turbo power hurts the car’s drivability and hence, affect its appeal to the motoring enthusiast.

The principal problem is called turbo lag, which Ferrari has sought to eradicate from its current V8 turbocharged engine. This required a great amount of technical expertise, with the marque emerging largely successful. The latest engine may not have the superb response of the older, naturally aspirated V8 engines but, of greater relevance, it is well within what is acceptable for the latter, which is now nearly extinct in the market. It produces prodigious power and is more fuel-efficient at the same time.

Ferrari takes the technology a step further by electronically tuning the engine to deliver power the same way its finest, normally aspirated V8 engine would – and with a high 8,000rpm engine speed and proportional power delivery. This endears sports car enthusiasts to the new turbocharged V8 engine, which produces a thrilling 720hp. But it is cleaner and quieter thanks to a gasoline particulate filter in the exhaust system in order to meet strict Euro 6d emission standards.

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The F8 Tributo drives as well on the road as it does on the track. (Photo: Roberto Carrer and Lorenzo Marcinno)

TAKING THE F8 FOR A TEST DRIVE

The latest engine partly contributes to the F8 being some 40kg lighter than its predecessor, the 488 GTB. The rest of the weight cut is due to the use of lightweight body parts, such as carbon-fibre wheels and sports seats, most of which are options. As a result, the F8 rockets to 100km/h in a mere 2.9sec – just a tick ahead of the 488 GTB –and boasts a top speed of 340km/h, which is 10km/h more than before.

What these numbers don’t tell you is how much less intimidating the car is when it deploys all of its firepower. The driver does not feel the chassis being overwhelmed when all 720hp is unleashed because of the effective way its stability control system called Side-Slip Control 6.1 (SSC 6.1) manages the power and handling characteristics.

On the way to the Varano circuit in Italy, where we took the F8 for a test drive, the car proved it was the perfect grand tourer as it swallowed up the highway with consummate ease, offering decent comfort for a supercar. Speed alone does not make it a great car but coupled with its superb chassis control and positive steering operating in unison, what you get is a great drive experience.

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For the cabin of the F8 Tributo, Ferrari eschews the trend of touchscreen panels or polished veneers, keeping it simple with black carbon-fibre elements complemented by red accents throughout. (Photo: Roberto Carrer and Lorenzo Marcinno)

On the track, under the supervision of a group of highly trained instructors, we also noticed that the F8’s improved aerodynamics helped plant it firmly to the ground. The latest SSC 6.1 also proved its mettle as it made handling at the limit a smoother and more enjoyable experience.

While Ferrari has sought to widen the F8 Tributo’s appeal with better road manners and comfort than its predecessor, what we experienced at the Varano circuit showed that the car can also excel on the track. If we might say, the F8 Tributo could very well be a refined version of the highly acclaimed track-only 488 Pista – albeit dressed in sexier clothes. 

FERRARI F8 TRIBUTO

Body: Two-door sports coupe, all-aluminium construction
Engine: 3,902cc, twin-turbocharged V8
Max Power: 720hp at 8,000rpm
Max Torque: 770Nm at 3,250rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch with paddle shift
Acceleration: 0-100km/h in 2.9sec
Top Speed: 340km/h
Fuel Consumption: 12.9L/100km (combined mode)
Price (Excluding COE): S$998,000
AgentItal Auto, 30 Leng Kee Road, tel: 6475 1118

Source: CNA/ds

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