Why, yes. You can daily drive a Ferrari, but be prepared for questions, challenges, and appearances on other people’s social media.
If Ferrari PR offered you a 2020 F8 Tributo for the day, would you turn them down? Heck no, and neither did we. MotorTrend contributor Derek Powell already drove the tires off the latest mid-engine 710-horsepower twin-turbo V-8 Ferrari in Italy last fall, including laps on the infamous Pista di Fiorano test circuit, so this more accurately is a second drive.
But driving a Ferrari around the middle of Italy comes with its own special challenges, from the unfamiliar, narrow roads, to intrigued carabinieri and little kids dashing into the street to see what all the fuss is about. Southern California is familiar. And consistency helps when evaluating cars.
So, what is it like having an F8 Tributo in L.A. for a day? A blast, of course, but I also got blasted with questions, photos, videos, and challenges.
Thumbs-up and “Cool car, dude!” were the most frequent reactions I got driving the F8 Tributo. As its name suggests, this car is a tribute to all the mid-engine V-8-powered two-seat Ferraris, dating back to 1975 with the 308 GTB.
Following on the heels of the fabulous 488 GTB, MotorTrend‘s 2017 Best Driver’s Car, and more recently the 488 Pista, the F8 Tributo is a further evolution, the most powerful V-8 production car Ferrari has ever produced, and what most people expect a Ferrari to be—a nimble, screaming supercar wrapped in impossibly beautiful sheetmetal and sprinkled liberally with carbon fiber.
The F8’s launch control is a new, more advanced version of the already-excellent version from the 488 and distributes all that power through a rapid-fire seven-speed twin-clutch automatic. Quarter mile? Again, the 488 GTB ran it in 10.6 seconds at 135 mph, so we’d guess low 10s at over 140 mph.
The thrust from the engine is so great even at part throttle, I only went to full throttle a couple times: Highway on-ramps are good for a brief thrill. The F8 really comes alive at 5,000 rpm, with the titanium exhaust sounding like it’s ripping the air to shreds. Power peaks at 7,000 rpm, and the redline is at 8,000 rpm. We can’t verify it, but given enough room and a legal place to run it, Ferrari claims a 211-mph top speed. I don’t doubt that for a moment.
While shooting photos of the car on a desolate high-desert road with windmills in the background, a guy in a Toyota 4Runner apparently spotted us from the highway, pulled off, and offered me $200 to drive it.
“Sorry, I can’t do that.” Then he offered me $100 for a ride. “Again, I’m sorry, but I can’t do that, either.” He understood, took his own photos, joined the, “Cool car, bro,” chorus, and off he went. It was about this time Brandon Lim, our intrepid photographer, said, “I’m glad it’s not red. This color is really showing off the bodywork in ways the red wouldn’t, especially as the sun is setting. Do you mind if I keep shooting?” I said, “Dude, shoot away. That’s why we’re here!”
Earlier in the day, before meeting Brandon for photos, I drove up state highway 243 from Banning to Idyllwild and back again. Holy smokes, what a road. And what a perfect car for that road. The default is Sport mode (there is no “Normal” in the F8), and I also sampled Race. As we found with the 458 Italia, the Bumpy Road button on the steering wheel, denoted by a shock absorber icon, provided a surprisingly cushy ride on the highway.
Yet, driving a $365K car on a somewhat familiar twisting road with runoff from recent rains and snow still dusting the shoulders at the top, I thought it prudent not to explore CT Off (traction control defeated) mode or even the car’s built-in Side Slip Angle Control (drift mode). Powell did on his track day, and he said, “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.”
Even with all the nannies still turned on, the thing that stood out was the F8’s balance, all the time, every time. With its 42/58 front/rear weight distribution, it feels like the car is balancing on a pin between the seats. It’s remarkable to feel the weight shift from contact patch to contact patch, each corner of the car doing its level best to provide what the driver wants.
The F8’s obedience is immediate, precise, and absolute. The steering is magical and so quick that I found I had to delay turn-in until the last moment—then trust the car to do what I wanted. It always did, without fail.
The standard carbon-ceramic brakes (15.7-inch diameter front, 14.2 inches rear) are, as one would expect, tremendous. That said, I prefer the pedal feel of the new Porsche 911 Turbo S. Where the Ferrari’s pedal is race car firm, with a short stroke, and brake modulation is achieved with pedal pressure, the Porsche‘s brake pedal offers more travel, more gradual bite, and as a result, it’s easier to find the ABS threshold and back out slightly.
Still, what a capable, explosive, thrilling, and sometimes frightening automotive achievement the Ferrari F8 Tributo is, as it should be, always and forever and ever, amen. A daily driver? It’s far more livable than one might imagine. The cabin is spacious. Sightlines are remarkable. The ride is incongruously good for exotica. But the attention it draws, the unwanted challenges, and the driver distraction it causes might be the actual discouragements to owning/driving one. Nah, who are we kidding? That’s part of owning a Ferrari.