Ferrari F8 Tributo vs. 488 GTB and 458 Italia: How to Tell Them Apart

I just spent a quick and loud five days with a lovely Rubino Micalizzato-colored 2020 Ferrari F8 Tributo. When you drive Ferraris, people talk to you. Folks at gas stations, grocery stores—sometimes people motion you to drop a window on the freeway and chat. With the F8 Tributo, they mostly say, “What is it?” A fair question considering that since the 458 Italia launched in 2011, Ferrari’s sold people said Italia, the 458 Speciale, the 488 GTB, the 488 Pista, and now the F8 Tributo. Yes, I’m leaving out all the convertibles. That’s a plethora of mid-engine, V-8 Ferrari designs to keep straight, especially considering they’re all (sort of) the same car underneath and look pretty darn similar if you’re not paid (hi, Mom!) to pay attention. Let’s take a closer look.

From the Side View

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From the side (and yes, of the 66 press pics of the F8 Tributo, the blue one here is the best profile shot Ferrari bothered to release), you can see the difference between the F8 and the 488 is mostly, if not totally, aero tweaks. The F8 looks more chiseled than the slightly puffy 488. The splitter below the nose is more pronounced on the F8 than on the 488. The divider in the huge air intake sits higher. The big giveaway from the side is how radical the sill on the F8 is, especially just in front of the rear wheel. I’m sure it chops up the air better, but I much prefer the smooth look of the 488. The spoiler on the F8 is larger and looks better.

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Moving on to the F8 versus the 458, you can see how much cleaner, purer, and simpler the Italia was, especially between the wheels. The Tributo had a chisel taken to it—the move to twin turbos with the 488 necessitated the need for huge air intakes, one for each intercooler—and it’s definitely not as pretty as the 458. That said, you can see that the nose and tail end of the two—the parts outside the wheelbase—bear a real similarity to each other.

From the Front View

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From the front, I think the F8 design is the clear winner. It’s angry and cruel-looking, almost like it’s sticking its tongue out—Maori style. Plus, I dig the air intakes above the lights. Moreover, as we’ll see in a minute, the Tributo looks like a harder-core version of the Italia, whereas the 488 looks like a different car. Also, the GTB design is pretty soft by comparison. I love the fender peaks on the F8, muscular and lean. Here the 488 looks like what it is—an awkward step between the 458 and the F8, one on which someone tried to graft an F1 car’s snout. This is definitely the 488 GTB’s weakest angle.

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I love this comparison, the front of the F8 versus 458. I get the feeling that the F8 was supposed to be what the 488 was supposed to look like but there was some push from the marketing side of the business to make a very tenuous F1 connection. You can see that the devilish looks of the 458 are carried over to the even eviler-looking F8. Cartoonish? In the best way possible.

From the Rear View

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Out back, I’d give it to the Tributo over the GTB. That said, I do like how clean and modern the 488 looks, and there’s definitely some ’80s scavenging going on with the F8’s butt. Good news is that Ferraris looked rad during the Reagan era! Again, the 488’s two taillights look great, but nostalgia dictates the four are better. Just look at an F40. And no, you cannot see out of the F8’s cut-up Lexan engine cover.

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As for the butt of the F8 versus the rump of the 458, the Tributo looks like an evolution of the Italia (admittedly one pumped full of steroids). I think Ferrari missed an opportunity to stick the 458’s triple pipes onto the quad-lighted back end of the F8, and thereby going full F40 homage. That said, the F8’s backside is the better looking of these two.

And there we have it. Moving from natural aspiration to forced induction caused the hard side of the 458/488/F8 to get all chopped up and scarred. Elegance was lost, full stop. That said, from both the front and the rear, the F8 Tributo is a huge improvement over the fussy styling of the 488, and it’s a playful, handsome iteration of the 458 Italia. And now you know what it is.

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