Ferrari F8 Tributo

The Roma is that rare thing – a truly beautiful Ferrari

I DON’T know if the chaps at Ferrari Styling Centre are allowed to have the radio on at work – but I suspect if they do, it’s probably permanently tuned into Planet Rock.

Every offering in Maranello’s current range is full of the sort of shouty styling that you’d expect from someone exposed to Guns ‘N’ Roses, Led Zeppelin and Foo Fighters eight hours a day – oh, and perhaps the occasional bit of Pink Floyd on lunch breaks. The F8 Tributo is a truly jaw-dropping supercar, but it is very, very loud and in-yer-face. Which, I suppose, is exactly what you’d want a mid-engined Ferrari to be.

But imagine if, just for one day, someone snuck in, switched the frequency to Smooth FM instead and then glued the tuning knob firmly into position. The resulting car would still have that gem of a turbocharged V8, of course, but the bodywork would be penned by people who’d been listening to Bryan Ferry, the Carpenters and Fleetwood Mac instead. That’d be lovely, right?

Well, that’s what I’d like to imagine happened in the run-up to the new Roma, which is everything the equally new F8 Tributo and SP90 Stradale aren’t.

Obviously, Ferrari has come up with its own, rather waffle-ish explanation for the understated looks – they are, and I quote Maranello’s own press release, “a contemporary reinterpretation of the carefree lifestyle of 1950s and ‘60s Rome, from which the car takes its evocative name”. Ahem. It then goes on to explain, for people who speak petrolhead rather than marketing, that it’s taken inspiration from the 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso and 250 GT 2+2 of the early Sixties. In other words, Ferrari’s looked at some of its older stuff, realised it’s much prettier than what it’s offering at the moment, and decided it’d like to bring some of the old magic back.

Good. I know I described the F8 as “proper bedroom wall stuff” in The Champion about six months ago – but I’m in my thirties and don’t blu-tack posters of supercars on my bedroom wall anymore (and I’m not entirely sure what my wife would say if I did). Nope, the Roma reminds me instead of the last new Ferrari I truly lusted after – the utterly wonderful, and equally understated 456 GT. No ground-snorting nose, no massive vents and absolutely no look-at-me rear spoilers – just lovely, beautifully proportioned curves cloaking an enormous engine, a leather-lined cabin and a steering wheel with a Prancing Horse badge on it.

Obviously, it’s worth mentioning that the Roma has a 611bhp version of the V8 that’s won the Engine of the Year award three times on the trot. You might be interested, too, in that its eight-speed double clutch gearbox is six kg lighter than the seven-speed one in the old Ferrari California, and that it has a dynamic control system that controls yaw angle by hydraulically adjusting brake pressure at the callipers.

Or – if you’re like me – you could just leave all the stats to children who want to win at Top Trumps by having the F8 Tributo in the pack. Just appreciate that Ferrari have finally come up with something that reminds you of the Daytona and the 456 GT – a front-engined GT that looks gorgeous and goes like stink.

From now on, Planet Rock is banned at Ferrari Styling Centre. I’m sure the chaps will learn to love Smooth FM…

Ferrari F8 Tributo – terrible name, very important mission…

YOU might not believe it, but a hefty new Government report that’s officialdom’s equivalent of a ticking-off from a stern headteacher and the new Ferrari are setting out to do roughly the same thing.

Yep, Public Health England are tackling the same case as the chaps at Maranello – but from wildly different perspectives. Both, you see, are trying to win over the hearts and minds of the next generation of petrolheads – by convincing the next generation of motorists-in-the-making that cars aren’t their enemy.

Whitehall first, then. I’m not entirely sure about its suggestions for scrappage schemes in its new report, but I’m actually in agreement with the idea that cars sat idling outside schools is not a good thing. In fact, I’d go even further than their suggestion of fining the culprits and let local authorities do their utmost to prevent children from being chauffeured to class in a never-ending slew of Audi Q5s and BMW X3s. I’m happy to go on record as saying that proper investment in getting kids to school on buses, not cars, is the way forward (and the fact it’ll make my commute much quicker has nothing to do with it, honestly). Why? Because in the long-run a school run devoid of oversized diesel off-roaders will weaken the argument that cars are the enemy.

That’s the stick out of the way – which is a good thing, because Ferrari and Aston Martin have some particularly fresh-looking carrots, if this year’s Geneva Motor Show was anything to go by. Kia, Hyundai and Skoda did turn up with some new stuff, of course, but the recurring theme at the latest outing seems to be that mid-engined supercars are back in fashion. I’m not sure if they ever went out of fashion in the first place – and my baggy t-shirts, Tears for Fears albums and side-parting mean I’m not exactly in a position to judge anything fashion-related – but there are definitely plenty of carmakers giving them another crack.

Let’s skip straight past Bugatti’s Voiture Noire, billed as the world’s most expensive car, despite the fact it’s only made one and it’s already sold anyway. Aston Martin have decided to ditch decades of tradition and launch its new Vanquish not as a front-engined GT, but as a mid-engined Ferrari rival, and it looks fabulous.

Which is where we get to Ferrari, of course. Forget the fact that its new F8 Tributo has a terrible name – Tributo, translated from Italian in Layman’s English, means ‘Tribute’, as in Ferrari’s tribute to how marvellous its own award-winning V8 engines are. Look past the new arrival being a heavily updated version of the outgoing 488 GTB, too, and the fact that it contributes precisely nothing to the hybrid/electric conversation because it has a 710bhp twin-turbo V8 that relies on setting things alight to do its business.

None of this matters a jot because it looks utterly mesmerising – the F40-aping heat vents in the rear window, especially – and sounds like a Ferrari should at full chat. It is unapologetically bedroom wall stuff – which fills me with hope, because what tomorrow’s petrolheads need are things to stick on bedroom walls.

That and a school run that isn’t choked up with diesel fumes from cars sat idling outside the front gates, of course…