Get in quick because the new Ferrari Tributo could be the last of its kind

There's no hiding that the small town of Maranello is the home of Ferrari.

A couple of roundabouts in town have giant, gleaming prancing horse statues sprouting from their centres and you don't have to drive far to spot a Ferrari flag dangling from a window, the northern Italian sun often taking soaking some of the red and yellow colour from the weathered material.

Workers emerge from the factory in bright red overalls, surely among the most desirable workwear in the automotive world.

Fan zone

Maranello is also a mecca for Ferrari fans, car enthusiasts and Ferrari owners.

But while anyone can drive into town, visit the Ferrari museum (including a ride through the factory) and blow their earnings on expensive merchandise – including parts from old Formula 1 cars – the real Ferrari experience is for the true believers.

By believers we mean those who have splashed out their cash to 'join the family'.

Open up

Ferrari keeps the detailed factory tours to owners or VIPs only.

Similarly, access to Fiorano - Ferrari's private race track that is a good right arm from the factory – is for staff and owners only.

The 3.0-kilometre track that houses Enzo Ferrari's old farmhouse in the middle was once used to test F1 cars, but these days it's mainly the road cars that lap it, Ferrari using the lap times as a benchmark to demonstrate model improvements.

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With apartment blocks perched against some sides and some genuinely challenging corners and bumps, it's a circuit like no other, tales wrapped up in every corner.

Even if you own a Ferrari, the only way to drive on Fiorano is by taking part in one of the €8500 ($13,700) two-day Pilota Ferrari driving courses.

Fitting tribute

We managed some laps of Fiorano as part of the media drive of the upcoming F8 Tributo, the replacement for the 488 GTB.

The Tributo has been described by Ferrari as the "last of its bloodline", a lineage that includes some of Ferrari's most iconic models, such as the 308, F355, 458 and 488.

All have that classic two-seat mid-engine layout with a V8 making the noise and ensuring brisk progress.

While Ferrari isn't ditching V8s in a hurry, future iterations are expected to have the assistance of electric motors as part of a hybrid system.

For now, it's the purity of the Tributo, which uses a familiar 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 that has scooped various International Engine of the Year awards.

Slipping and sliding

Drizzling rain is not the best way to get acquainted with Ferrari's latest newcomer, especially soaring towards 200km/h at one of Ferrari's most revered places.

Fortunately there's a Wet Mode that does a superb job of keeping things straight and sensible, gently pulling back power to deal with what available grip is on offer.

As the track shows hints of drying out Sport mode becomes more useful, making it easier to access the full 530kW and 770Nm, albeit with some snakes and slides as the rear tyres lose the battle against what is a mighty V8.

V8 unleashed

But it's on the roads around Maranello where the F8 Tributo demonstrates its substantial talents.

It's here that the immense pull of the 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 makes for a fast and fun ride.

From as low as 2000rpm there's loads of muscle and the engine digs deep for an intoxicating, effortless thrust.

While there's the ever-present growl of the exhaust – as well as wooshes as the turbos suck air in - it takes on a more sinister snarl as revs rise.

Racing towards its 8000rpm rev limit is where things get genuinely exciting and the true talent of the engine is on display.

It's a prodigious power unit, one that revs with gusto and propels the two-seat body with the sort of passion befitting the prancing horse badge.

The dash to 100km/h is claimed to take 2.9 seconds on the way to a top speed of 340km/h. Translation: it's fast, at any speed.

The slow road

Despite its stunning mid-engine stance and considerable pace the F8 Tributo also beautifully slots into everyday traffic.

Suspension it taut and tuned for fast blasts around a race track. But it also does a surprisingly good job of dealing with bumps, quickly settling and supressing road uglies and helping divert the V8's power to the road.

A "bumpy road" mode further softens things and makes for a surprisingly easy supercar to live with.

Familiar times

While it's a new model, the F8 Tributo also shares plenty with the 488 (and 458 before it). The windows, roof and doors are identical, for example.

And the engine uses the tune developed for the 488 Pista, the faster, track-focused version of the 488.

But the design has stepped up. Four tail lights give hints of the F355 from the rear while the Lexan (a lightweight plastic) rear window has slits that hark back to the legendary F40.

More advanced aerodynamics incorporate a hole in the bonnet called the S-Duct, which is designed to reduce drag while pushing the nose towards the ground for better grip.

All of which adds up to a superb blend of heritage, styling, technology and raw mechanical pace in a Ferrari that's managed to raise an already high bar.

Join the queue

At least for those who get to experience it.

One thing Ferrari does brilliantly is create anticipation and excitement for new models - and it's no different with the F8 Tributo.

Queues are already out to about 12 months, which isn't bad for a car priced from $484,888. Even then, you still have to pay extra for basics included on mainstream cars. That includes a reversing camera and Apple CarPlay connectivity.

The writer travelled to Italy as a guest of Ferrari.

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