Parenting Made Easy in the 2020 Ferrari F8 Tributo
When your kid lives on the other side of the country, you make every moment count. A Ferrari helps.
Dazzling jewelry, lavish estates, fine wines, haute couture, and of course, high-end cars with exorbitant price tags serve as stark mementos of our innate place in society. These monoliths of wealth and greed are often touted as examples of inequity by many. Others, however, consider these the ultimate rewards for hard work—or even their God-given birthright, in some cases. What am I getting at? Adults are jaded and will literally say anything to defend their point of view. Children are different, simply seeing things for what they really are. And, in the case of the Ferrari F8 Tributo; as something really freaking cool.
Remember when seeing a cool car cruising down the street made you feel stupidly excited? Or when you heard your first Ferrari rev its engine and how it made your insides tremble? I do. But then I grew up, got a job, and realized just how wildly out of reach these things were to most people. Suddenly, seeing an ultra-expensive car made me question my own life's choices rather than that shameless joy I once felt as a young gearhead.
This summer, I was blatantly reminded of how being an adult—one with a family, mortgage, dogs, etcetera—can oftentimes rob us of our most basic joys. See, my 14-year-old son is a car dude. I'm not talking about the kind of kid who can tell apart Ram Rebel from a Ram TRX, or whose car knowledge derives solely from watching Fast and Furious movies. No, I'm talking about knowing specific names of paint colors from Ferrari to Mercedes-Benz or looking at an aftermarket wheel and knowing the manufacturer, fitment, and even how much it costs. That kind of car kid.
Because my son doesn't live with me full-time, I try my hardest to line up some cool test cars each summer while he's visiting. This way he can geek out and I can not-so-subliminally convince him that I'm the cooler parent. Because what better way to buy your kid's approval than by bringing home a red Ferrari?
Little did I know that by exposing my son to a mythical prancing horse, it was going to be him who taught me a lesson and not the other way around.
2020 Ferrari F8 Tributo: By the Numbers
- Base price (as tested): $270,530 ($427,992)
- Powertrain: 3.9-liter twin-turbo V8 | 7-speed dual-clutch transmission | rear-wheel drive
- Horsepower: 710 @ 8,000 rpm
- Torque: 568 lb-ft @ 3,250 rpm
- 0-60: 2.8 seconds (est.)
- Top speed: 211 mph
- Seating capacity: 2
- Cargo volume: 7 cubic feet
- Dry weight: 2,932 pounds
- Quick take: A machine that can transmit emotion.
The Ferrari F8 Tributo is Maranello's only mid-engine V8 Berlinetta coupe that's not a hybrid. It follows in the footsteps of fairly important names of the supercar scene—most of which I grew up playing on Need for Speed and Forza—like the 355, 360, 430, and most recently, 488.
The F8 is a supercar through and through, and like most supercars, it looks fast even when standing still. A chiseled front end that culminates in a pointy, F1-inspired nose, oversized air ducts behind the doors, and curvaceous rear haunches define its powerful presence. There's also a touch of flamboyance—Ferrari is unapologetically Italian, after all—with wheels so simple yet so exquisite that they're essentially works of art, and the thinnest of Italian mementos stamped right on the engine cover. It's a romantic and softer design that's not so common in today's hard-edged supercar segment.
But as dreamy as the F8 may look, it can be a stone-cold killer when needed. The 3.9-liter, twin-turbo V8 is the most powerful non-hybrid V8 in the history of Ferrari, utilizing its 710 rear-wheel-driven ponies to violently propel you in whichever direction the steering wheel is pointing. The result of this fine-tuned combustion is a sound that is... chef's kiss.
Cavallino in the House
A raspy engine growl cut through the airwaves as we sat on the front porch, announcing something cool that our eyes yet couldn't see. A moment later, the Ferrari pulled up to be dropped off.
The next few days were a lesson in obsession. Given the fact that I still had to, y'know, be at my computer working during the day, my son found every excuse possible to be with the Ferrari. Whether it was hand-washing it, taking photos, or "creating content" for his TikTok, there was no better place for him than in the driveway and next to the Rubino Metallizzato F8.
He even took it upon himself to learn as much as possible about the car, spending an eternity sitting in the driver's seat, exploring the controls, and figuring out how things worked. He also spent hours on the online configurator building spec after spec, popping into my office to show me how many personalization options were available. He read Mike Spinelli's review, as well as Kyle Cheromcha's take on the F8 Spider. Many YouTube videos were also consumed.
During lunchtime he'd debrief me on the car; how so and so parts were made of carbon fiber, how this vent channeled air in a particular way, and how the entire car had been wrapped with paint-protecting film (even the windshield). It was mind-boggling how much he'd discovered about a car just from washing it. This reminded me of when I was a kid and I'd wash my dad's Porsche 911 as an excuse to sit in the driver's seat and daydream about ripping it around the hood.
As these interactions unfolded, memories from my childhood came rushing back. Memories of how my dad also used cars to bond with me. I also didn't live with my dad full time, but when I visited him, a lot of our time together involved car-related things. From going on drives, window-shopping at dealerships, to traveling to Grand Prix, it was our thing.
Unlike in a Mercedes-AMG or BMW M, you can feel the road underneath you in a Ferrari when cruising at 80 mph on the highway. Every road blemish can be felt via the buttocks and road surfaces can be identified via the steering wheel—it's a very tactile experience. Unlike other, less-focused sports cars, the F8 doesn't have a Comfort mode, no sir. Sport is as chill as it gets unless it's raining or snowing outside, which in that case you can switch to Wet mode.
Despite the lack of a relaxed setting, the F8 is surprisingly comfortable around town and it is not the harsh and brash supercar you think it would be. MagneRide plays a big role in this, expertly dampening each corner depending on road conditions and vehicle dynamics. Rush-hour traffic and stop-and-go construction zones are dealt with comfortably and are merely opportunities to turn on the radio and crank up the AC, both of which worked beautifully on a hot summer's day.
Like Showtime's serial killer Dexter from Dexter, the F8 can quickly trade its upstanding citizen clothes for something less restrictive and much more sinister. On a twisty road, the cushioned feel of the suspension and relatively light steering are replaced with something much stiffer and a lot more reactive. The exhaust, too, trades its gentle drone for something much more rambunctious when you start dropping gears or go anywhere near 5,000 rpm.
What's even more intriguing is the car does this without me having to switch driving modes or tinker with the onboard computer. The killer behavior is just part of the car's makeup. When you realize that, it's when the hair stands up on the back of your neck.
Just Like Old Times
Spirited drives with my dad were the best—even if he often scared the crap out of me with this driving. He always made sure to tell me what was going on with the car: how it handled, what it was relaying back to him, his reasoning behind turning, braking, or shifting a certain way. There was also a common denominator: no music. We either conversed or we listened to the engine.
As a former endurance racing driver, my dad had the skills to back up everything he said to me, or at least everything he said to me regarding the art of driving. He could heel-toe like it was no one's business and brake deeper and harder into corners than I thought was possible (or safe).
Me, however? I never graduated past fast shifter karts and some small formula cars, and even then, it's been decades since I've driven a purpose-built racing machine. So while I'm confident behind the wheel, I simply don't have the seat time my dad has. Still, I do my best to explain to my son how to understand cars, and most importantly, how to respect them. They can be dangerous, after all. Especially something as hardcore as a Ferrari.
But as you know, teenagers are fickle beasts that often act unimpressed by even the greatest of feats. My son's not so bad, at least not yet, but sometimes he's uninterested in anything I say or do. But when I revved that twin-turbo V8 to nearly 8,000 rpm and the rear briefly broke traction, however, I had his attention. He didn't tell me so, but the look on his face did.
I upshifted while rocketing out of a corner and found utter delight in the exhaust's loud bark. A hundred feet later or so, I stepped hard on the brakes, downshifted once, and rode a right-hander carousel with the tach needle dancing around 5,500 rpm. The F8 Tributo felt at home in this environment.
We drove through miles upon miles of Indiana's best twisty roads, most of which required nothing more than fourth gear from the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Our speed hardly ever climbed past 60 mph, which one would think is rather boring in a car capable of doing 211 mph, but it wasn't. The twin turbochargers effortlessly generate power in the lower end of the rev range, making the F8 feel just as brutally sharp at 4,500 rpm as it does at 7,000. Let's not forget, the F8 may not be Maranello's wildest car today, but it's powered by the same engine from the 488 Pista, a car that laps Fiorano 3.5 seconds faster than an Enzo.
Hearing an Italian V8 sing its song at full throttle just inches away from you is like having Pavarotti scream in your face. A wee bit overwhelming, but so stupidly cool. And it's not just the sound and the punch in the gut from the acceleration; it's also the squirm of the rear tires and the staccato shake of the cabin.
Attempting to impersonate my own father, I told my son everything going on with the car as I strung the corners together. "Always keep your eyes up," I told him. "Never look down directly in front of the car. If you do, you'll always be behind the ball." I narrated the car's reactions to my inputs at the wheel and pedals, and how despite sending 710 horses to the rear only, the Michelin Pilot Super Sport K3s made things feel planted and never sketchy.
What was sketchy were some bits of the road where debris from freshly mowed countryside littered the surface, as well as wet tarmac from recent rains. When we came across these, we drastically slowed down and carefully avoided the leaves and branches until the road cleared up again. "You gotta be patient and use your brain," I said. "No need to risk sliding off the road or getting a flat. You have to know when to take it easy." Patience is an important virtue, especially when driving a half-million-dollar supercar.
The massive carbon-ceramic brakes were there to help us take it easy, indeed. My brain essentially had to be rewired to understand the F8's magnificent braking performance. It didn't take long, as they reminded me of the brakes in a racing car: They simply talk to you. You can actually feel the calipers and pads engage when you touch the pedal. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my son tap his imaginary brake pedal with his foot, too.
If you want to get a kid hooked on cars for the rest of his life, this is how you do it.
We found a good spot to pull over, have some lunch, and grab a few photos. The adrenaline was still running high from miles of hard driving on a hot day. He repeatedly walked around the car taking videos to share with his friends and followers, constantly snapping shots from various angles. He didn't even care to grab a bite. If he liked the F8 prior to our drive together, now he was crazy about it. Then again, what's not to love about a red Italian supercar?
Seeing him smile and enjoy himself helped me realize what a big deal this was to him. It reminded me of why these cars are cool and why they matter. It made me feel like I once did as a kid, when seeing a Ferrari was something monumental and worth obsessing over for the rest of the day.
He experienced something very few people ever have the opportunity to enjoy. More importantly, this was his world, his scene, his love of cars. And while I can sit here and tell him how many trucks Ford sells every hour or how it's more fun to drive a Miata fast
than a McLaren slow, that will never change the fact that Ferrari is a religion, Maranello its church, and my son one of its loyal followers.
In case you forgot, being a teenager is difficult. Being a teenager with divorced parents living on opposite sides of the country is even more so. (Ask me how I know.) Luckily, I had a 2020 Ferrari F8 Tributo to help me create memories with my son, memories I hope he remembers as he grows up into a car-loving adult.
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