We loved the Ferrari F12, it was a stunning supercar from the prancing horses stables in Italy, a car you could actually drive round town but one that also had the ability to unleash the gods of war with on the open roads, unlike some of Ferrari’s other front engined V12’s in the not too distant past, the F12 was also a very good looking car, it was modern but also retained some classic lines. The F12 found a special place in the hearts of supercar lovers everywhere, so inevitably when it’s successor was launched, the 812 Superfast, we hoped the magic Ferrari had created with the F12 would remain in the newer car.
Quiet simply the answer is yes…and how! The new Ferrari 812 Superfast is the latest SuperGTcar (is there such a term?) from the Maranello outfit replacing the as mentioned F12, continuing the tradition, in a long line of front engined V12 supercars.
This new SuperGT is powered up to almost 800 bhp at 789bhp, not that the F12 was any slouch, itself capable of 730bhp through the rear wheels, but evidently more power is better so if the F12 was not fast enough the 812 is really fast. The car has a claimed top speed of over 221 mph with a 0–62 mph acceleration time of 2.9 second, so a quick trip to Monaco shouldn’t take long.
So 812? For those asking, 800 is from the ‘almost 800bhp’ the car produces and 12′ naturally from the V12 under the bonnet. Why not 801 you might ask, as 789bhp is what it produces not 800bhp, well we can only assume 812 sounds better than 801 and that’s all the answer you’ll probably get.
As supercars pursue the inevitable quest of going ever faster, more bhp through the wheels, some people in small quarters wonder if you can have too much (they really do?!) Raffaele de Simone, Ferrari’s chief test driver and lead engineer, when asked the question: how much hp is too much? As a simple, matter of fact answer: “If you have control, it’s never enough” he said. We like that alot.
There’s some element of truth to that for sure, the F12tdf did not offer the control to match its 770bhp. It has been described as an “angry, hard-to-drive Special Edition with hp that overwhelmed a chassis featuring a rear-steer system intended to confound both itself and its driver.”
Ferrari called that system a ‘virtual short wheelbase’ but, in effect it was the opposite. By steering the rear wheels in the same direction as the fronts it was adding stability – virtual length – to the tdf’s wheelbase, in an attempt, at which it would mostly fail, to tame a chassis that had been made deliberately unstable by fitting extremely wide front tires. Their grip and willingness to turn made the tdf feel extraordinarily agile for its size, but combined with the extra power, they also made it way too lively, but that was okay because it was a Limited Edition model.
The new 812 Superfast is a production model, that can be driven by anyone. So, naturally, it gets precisely the same tire sizes as the tdf, the same rear-steer system, and even more horsepower. The F12’s 65-degree naturally aspirated V-12 has been taken from 6.2 liters to 6.5 liters courtesy of an increase in stroke. There’s a new crankshaft, new connecting rods, and new pistons, as well as material upgrades to the block aimed at increasing strength around the main bearings. But the real focus, says powertrain engineer Andrea Napolitano, was on improving breathing efficiency, optimizing combustion, and reducing friction. Redesigned cylinder heads therefore feature larger diameter intake and exhaust valves and new runner designs. Reprofiled camshafts push the inlet valves deeper into the combustion chamber and hold them open longer.
“We wanted an engine with maximum performance at higher engine speeds,” Napolitano says. And by all that Enzo held holy, the 812 Superfast engine delivers. Those 789 ponies arrive in a stampede at a shrieking 8,500 rpm, just 400 rpm before the big V-12 nuzzles the soft limiter. Peak torque of 529 lb-ft is generated at 7,000 rpm, though 424 lb-ft is available at 3,500 rpm. But it’s not what the engine does that impresses the most. It’s how it does it.
The 812 purrs around town on part throttle, pulling cleanly from as little as 1,000 rpm, allowing the dual-clutch transmission to shuffle into seventh gear by 35 mph. Throttle response gets crisper as the revs build, enabling you to make the most of the broad swathe of midrange torque. Then you hit 6,000 rpm, and all hell breaks loose. Although most engines feel like they’re starting to fade at these revs, this Ferrari V-12 hits warp drive. The tach needle leaps toward the redline, accompanied by a vivid surge of thrust, and a soundtrack that’s nothing short of awesome.
Easy to drive…
Ferrari engineers say the 812 Superfast is easier to drive at the limit than the F12. The tires are regular Pirelli P Zeros, the rear-steer system has been honed and tweaked with the electronically controlled differential, the stability control and the drift control, to Ferrari’s 1st application of electrically assisted power steering, itself replacing a hydraulic set-up.
Ferrari likes to suggest the Superfast is a sports car with GT capability, and that duality of purpose is reflected in an interior that’s a halfway house between the pared-down cockpit of the 488 and the lavishly equipped cabin of the GTC4Lusso. There’s no big infotainment screen in the center of the dash as in the GTC4, for example, but the Superfast is available with the narrow, passenger-side mini-screen that’s a feature of the luxo-Ferrari. The instrument panel is dominated by a giant tachometer—of course—flanked with a pair of configurable screens that handle everything from auxiliary instrumentation to navigation, phone, and audio. All minor controls, including the iconic manettino, are located on the steering wheel.
How it looks may split opinion, I think it looks super cool, purposeful, a little aggresive, modern yet reminds me of a certain GT from Ferrari’s past, the Daytona. The extravagant curves and slashing vents on the 812 Superfast’s exterior are there for a reason; this is a Ferrari whose form has been driven by function. The gashes across the top of the front fenders bleed hot air from the radiators, and those behind the front wheels guide air up the deeply sculpted sides of the car. Air entering the scoops at the base of the C-pillars is vented through slits on top of the rear fenders to create a strong laminar flow across the fender surfaces and reduce lift. The rear spoiler sits 1.8 inches higher than that of the F12berlinetta’s, contributing to a two-box fastback profile that’s very reminiscent as I say of the Daytona, and the trailing edge of the lozenge-shaped rear window sits proud of a small shelf—a tiny detail that helps keep the airflow hugging the car over the spoiler, increasing downforce while minimizing drag.
Ferrari has clearly used its Formula 1 experience, as often it does, to create a floor bristling with diffusers, turning vanes, and vortex generators to help suck the Superfast down onto the tarmac at speed. Neat tricks include two passive flaps up front that are opened by the pressure of the airflow at 124 mph to stall the front diffuser and reduce drag and three electrically actuated flaps at the rear of the car that do the same to the rear diffuser.
The rivals to this Ferrari are few and nonexistent at this performance level, and few feel this comfortable to push hard in. SO the best GT money can buy? We’ll let Ferrari’s de Simone answer that one: “nothing is ever perfect,” he says but no other GT car has ever been this good…it really is Super.