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F8 Tributo: The Ferrari that Singaporeans are queuing to buy

The F8 Tributo rolled into KL for a regional launch, months before it is scheduled to appear in Singapore

The Ferrari F8 Tributo rolled into Kuala Lumpur for customers to get a sneak peek.

Kuala Lumpur

JUST weeks after making its global debut at the Geneva motor show in March, the Ferrari F8 Tributo rolled into Kuala Lumpur for some customers to get a sneak peek, perchance to snag an early place in the queue for one.

Ferrari gave the new car its Southeast Asia debut over the Good Friday weekend, at a gala dinner to mark 10 years of the brand's relationship with dealers in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

The F8 Tributo, so named because it pays tribute to Ferrari's award-winning V8 engines, is scheduled for a September launch in Singapore. It should cost S$998,000 without options or Certificate Of Entitlement, and buyers who reserve one now will only get to take delivery in early 2020.

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The car is a leaner, lighter and more powerful evolution of the 488 GTB Fiorano, a sports coupe aimed at keen drivers.

"This is a car that is for people who really would like to have fun," said Dieter Knechtel, chief executive of Ferrari Far and Middle East Hub. "It's not a track version or lightweight version like the 488 Pista, it's a car for the more standard driver, who is probably not a professional - someone who loves to drive fast and going to the extreme, and feeling safe about it."

The F8 Tributo's 720 horsepower engine catapults it to 100km/h in only 2.9 seconds, or to 200km/h in just 7.8 seconds. The Ferrari won't stop accelerating until it reaches 340km/h.

Its bodywork was sculpted in the wind tunnel, and borrows ideas from motor racing to increase the downforce that presses the car to the road at high speed, without incurring extra wind resistance.

Ferrari says new electronic traction systems mean the F8 Tributo can rocket out of some corners 6 per cent faster than the 488 GTB.

The F8 Tributo's launch coincided with broader 10th anniversary celebrations that saw Ferrari owners from the three markets converge on the Malaysian capital. Some 540 people attended the gala dinner on Good Friday, and the next day 100 Ferraris (27 from Singapore) drove in convoy from KL to the Sultan of Selangor's palace for a private viewing of his car collection. The event ended at the Sepang Circuit, where owners took their cars for hot laps of the racetrack at night.

In effect, the celebrations saw some customers travel hundreds of kilometres in their current Ferrari, in order to view their next Ferrari. Such devotion might be why, speaking at the gala dinner, Teo Hock Seng chose to downplay the role of the dealer. "People like us come and go," said the managing director of Ital Auto, Ferrari's importer in Singapore. "But this brand will be around forever."