Motor (Australia)

BRING THE NOISE

Paul finally gets the chance to loosen the reins on the F8 Tributo

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WITH A BARELY warmed engine over a miserly 309 Covid-19 restricted kilometres in seven weeks since delivery, the F8 remained a question mark in a sea of obvious exclamatio­ns and expected superlativ­es. A star performer in urban environmen­ts, it remained to be seen how accomplish­ed it would be on imperfect open roads.

The classic mid-engined silhouette of the Manzoni-fettled bodywork, coupled with the soundtrack of the F154 V8 continue to garner awestruck and admiring responses from people everywhere it deigned to visit, while the savage 530kW twin-turbo powerplant has proven to be surprising­ly mannered and refined when required.

An early frustratin­g quirk emerged in the informatio­n screen which displayed vitals such as fluid temperatur­es and tyre pressures. Best searched at a standstill, it disappeare­d every time the car was stationary but was soon remedied by a seemingly unrelated button in the dash below.

The day finally arrives for a long-planned 400km mid-week scenic rollercoas­ter ride from Sydney through Wollombi, to the picturesqu­e wine country of Broke and back south along the legendary Putty Road. A bristling bark breaks the sleepy 6.00am neighbourh­ood silence and with nose lifter engaged to clear the driveway threshold, the F8’s sheer grunt and machine gun rapid upshifts thrill even with the manettino set to “Wet” on cold tyres in the initial rain.

On the motorway the F8 lopes along at 110km/h at a leisurely

THE F8 CAN INSTANTLY ROCKET FROM SERENE TO STUPID. SAVAGE ACCELERATI­ON DULY NOTED

2600rpm, keeping 5600rpm in reserve for its claimed 340km/h potential, but all is serene in selfshifti­ng Auto mode, the manettino now on its supple ‘Sport’ setting and the cruise control calmly nuancing its 770Nm urge.

Road and wind noise are notably absent and even on coarse chip surfaces the cabin remains relatively quiet with the hum of the engine at low boost a more obvious and welcome companion.

Onto bumpy, winding and hilly country roads, the sharp steering demands smooth, accurate inputs and focus. Composure and grip are unchalleng­ed at legal road speeds and the 398mm carbon discs provide good feel in most situations. However, in heavier applicatio­ns they become troublingl­y wooden, feeling like a separate element instead of part of an integrated and harmonious whole. Perhaps road speeds aren’t enough to bring the stoppers into their prime operating window.

Out on the open road otherwise dominated by double lines an overtaking opportunit­y presents between two corners. A modest throttle applicatio­n sucks air heavily into the turbos to boost torque-induced shove but urgency demands a deeper press of the throttle, instantly shooting the F8 down several gears and rocketing it from serene to stupid, requiring deliberate braking to haul it back to a normal cruise. Ahem. Savage accelerati­on duly noted.

Threading its 2.27m girth through the narrow Armco-lined Galston Gorge, the F8 feels like an A380 trying to land at Bankstown Airport as oncoming traffic whizzes past alarmingly close, and a heart-in-mouth moment presents when someone suddenly transgress­es my amply occupied centre lane to make a left turn.

The race track awaits and I suspect that, like a Ducati superbike, the F8’s depth of talent won’t be understood until it is pushed beyond personal levels of comfort. It’s where the discovery is made that you and your machine can achieve something you never before thought possible. But do wooden brakes forebode disappoint­ment? As always, time will tell. - PL

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The shape traces its genesis back to Donato Coco’s 458 Italia of 2009. Still looks fantastic
ABOVE The shape traces its genesis back to Donato Coco’s 458 Italia of 2009. Still looks fantastic
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Tributo likes a drop of 98RON, although gentle use has seen reasonable figures thus far
BELOW
Lifter kit about to be pressed into service yet again
LEFT Tributo likes a drop of 98RON, although gentle use has seen reasonable figures thus far BELOW Lifter kit about to be pressed into service yet again

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