If you want the pinnacle of Ferrari’s road expertise, then this is definitely the Ferrari 812 Superfast – designed by Flavio Manzoni, the head of the Italian brand – and the most powerful production car ever built by the brand.
You have to love the name – on the one hand, an insanely fitting description for this T-Rex of the modern car world, and on the other, it is a tribute to Ferrari’s V12 pre-samples from a bygone era, in particular, the 500 Superfast from 1964.
It is also the replacement for the scary fast F12berlinetta and his more track-oriented brother or sister, the F12tdf, but according to Manzoni, “they have nothing on the 812 Superfast.”
Because under that beautifully sculpted hood is the God of all engines, a naturally aspirated 6.5-liter V12 that sends 588 kW and 718 Nm to the rear axle and sends the ground back through a pair of massive 315/35 Pirelli P-zeros. .
Let’s be clear, that’s 800-hp, and Ferrari says it’s as big as they can with a naturally aspirated engine. It can run to 8900 rpm – it produces a real old-school F1 shout and shatters the 0-100km / h benchmark sprint in 2.9 seconds flat. Perhaps even more surprising are the performances from a standstill of up to 200 km / h – in an unthinkable 7.9 seconds.
They tell us that it is also much less intimidating than the F12. Good thing, and a bit of a relief, because we are heading south in the direction of a few flattened turns to discover it ourselves, but not for a crazy line in the opposite direction of the picturesque town of Mantova, the birthplace of the legendary Italian driver, Tazio Nuvolari, who drove back for Enzo Ferrari when he ran Alfa Romeos.
It is also the second time in so many years that we have arrived in Maranello, the ancestral home of Ferrari, and to be honest, the feeling is still surreal. When I consider that the V12 Ferraris has been rolling out of these gates for 70 years, I am simply stunned. You can’t help feeling humble and in awe of this place.
And although this specific facility may only build Ferrari’s road cars, the whole place smells of Formula 1 and the celebrated history behind this race-bred brand.
Last year we were here for the updated California T with handling package, which transformed that car into a much sharper instrument than it was before, and now this, the 812 Superfast, guarantees a different road icon from the House of the Prancing Horse.
Aside from selected media, the only people who are generally allowed behind these doors are real Ferrari owners and currently I count at least 20 or more in the greeting room, and it seems from all over the world.
I hope our car is parked right outside the reception – the paint job is new ‘Rosso Settantanni’ – the color that was made to celebrate Ferrari’s 70th anniversary. And it is the right shade for this flagship GT, although the truth has been said, I support ‘Rosso Formula 1 2007’, but buyers can choose from a variety of other shades, including Rosso 70 Anni, Rosso Monza and Rosso Berlinetta.
And those are just the red ones; there’s a whole color palette to choose from, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter which color you choose – it’s still an 812 Superfast, right?
We only have the car for a day, as is customary with flagship models that the international press has so much demand for, and as much as we want to jump in and shout fourth to those beckoning hills, that moment will just have to wait, because there are a few few product briefings to attend, to get some understanding of the pure mechanical and technological mastery here.
The engine alone is pure genius. Getting so much power from a V12, without the help of turbos, superchargers or hybridization, is nothing short of amazing.
It is based on the 6.2-liter engine of the F12berlinetta, but thanks to a longer stroke the displacement was increased to 6.5 liters while the power was increased by 44 kW. That despite producing less CO2 than the smaller V12 that it replaces.
More importantly, it is 75 percent new – which means new crankshaft, new connecting rods and a new piston design to start up. Ferrari also improved the intake system and combustion efficiency for better all-round breathing, as well as innovative technology such as the use of a 350-bar direct injection system for the first time on a spark-ignition engine.
The 812 also benefits from a specially developed variable geometry inlet system control system, developed on Ferrari’s naturally aspirated F1 engines, but further improved than that of the more manic F12tdf.
Although no healthy person would have ever thought that the standard (“standard” is not the right word), the F12 needed an improvement of its peak exhaust note, which is exactly what Ferrari has done with the 812 Superfast.
The sound from the engine compartment and the exhaust pipes has been improved and better balanced with the help of a six-in-one manifold – and, as you can imagine, it is not getting any better. That’s how a Formula 1 car sounded. And there is nothing very nice.
Ferrari’s seven-speed seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is another part of the transfer and something to watch as you enjoy the sound of the fastest gears (up or down) on the planet. But it is also ruined to handle the higher revs and the pace of the 812. All gear ratios are shortened to around six percent for faster picking – even in the higher gears.
Not that we had thought it technically possible, but the switching times were also reduced by 30 percent. It’s crazy how fast this thing is shifting, but more about that soon.
More extreme linear performance is all well and good, but that’s only half. The 812 Superfast also benefits from one of the world’s best chassis, along with some brand new technology designed to keep it firmly planted under the most extreme loads.
The key to all this is version 2.0 of Ferrari’s virtual short wheelbase (Passo Corto Virtuale – if you know Italian), an evolution of the system used in the F12tdf that combines electric power steering with tailor-made tire dimensions for the first time (same as the tdf) and rear wheel steering.
There is also a fifth-generation version of the side-slip control of the Ferari and new features such as Ferrari Peak Performance (FPP) and Ferrari Power Oversteer (FPO) designed to detect when the car is approaching its adhesion limits via steering torque while providing feedback is given to the driver via steering wheel inputs to better control the car when upset occurs.
Consider these systems as a collective and seamless guide to expert car driving, especially under heavy loads, but you will not feel them work as such, according to Ferrari. We will discover it soon enough.
The braking force is due to the same carbon-ceramic samples as those on the LaFerrari, which has improved braking performance by nearly six percent over the F12berlinetta.
Photos are one thing, but to be honest they don’t do this car justice when it comes to the inherent curves and beauty of an aerodynamically powered sculpture with such complexity that it looks both threatening and beautiful at the same time.
There is nothing – not a single fold, line or aperture that is not there to keep this car stable at speed. There is undoubtedly aerodynamic sorcery playing here – and something we have experienced first hand on the Autostrada – with the taps wide open at full sound.
Things like ground effect vortex generators, active aero on the rear diffuser, passive aero on the front diffuser, Bi-bocca front inlet, front bumper swivel slide, channels on rear protectors, hollow flanks, rear spoiler and optimized thermo management are the most important characteristics.
The result is a grand tourer like we have never ridden before. The pure, unshakable attitude that this thing exhibits with warp speed is inspiring at the same time as extraordinary and enormous confidence. He simply refuses to leave the track, even a millimeter, or at least not to detect behind the wheel.
It is not only the high-speed stability that surprises you, it is also the real-world experience of a thoroughbred Ferrari that accelerates from zero to two tons in less than eight seconds. Yes, it holds you to the backrest. That is a given. But what makes more impression is the absolute refinement of this V12 under full gas moments. In addition, with 80 percent torque available from just 3500 rpm – there’s no end to it, it just keeps pulling even in the seventh.
And send that!
It can be electrically supported, but the calibration and the feedback level are simply unparalleled. It is a big car, but it doesn’t take long before you use this Ferrari as Michelangelo would take a chisel, on impossibly narrow, cobbled streets in Mantova, with confidence in the world. It is a very easy car to drive. Period of time.
We finally arrived at the Tazio Nuvolari Museum after a photo session on the grounds of an old ruin where the 812 Superfast drew a lot of attention from local firefighters who wanted to take a selfie by car. Unfortunately we arrived too late to come in. Anyway, we still took a picture of Ferrari’s best for one of Enzo’s favorites. Tribute paid.
It wasn’t long before we closed the gap with the Parco Regionale dei Sassi Roccamalatina and those reversals that define these parts. The road surface is not in the best shape, but the top is that there is almost no traffic – so nothing to obstruct the high exhaust tones of the V12 or those whip-cracking downshifts. It sounds like semi-automatic gunfire if you have a quick hand with the left paddle.
It feels so much more tied than the F12berlinetta. You can’t really detect the rear wheel steering while working or the wider rubber on the front (from 245 to 275 seconds), but the grip level and the turn-in response are not in the charts. You’re just not afraid to take this seriously, because it won’t bite, even if you are overcooked a few times.
Along with the all-carving technology on board, there’s also a lot of mechanical grip, and while you can really feel it, it’s the ultra-sharp responses of the accelerator, steering, brakes and transmission – everything works in total harmony that together makes this Ferrari a unique driving experience.
At approximately two turns of lock-to-lock, the steering is mega-fast. And although the weighting is relatively light, it seems perfectly in sync with all other controls. In fact, it may just as well be telepathic, such as its precision and speed.
After a while we managed to burst full throttle between the hairpins – mainly because we couldn’t get enough of that three-clip downshift. That’s when you have to lean on those huge carbon-ceramic Brembos in front, and, dear, they’re doing well, but not for a moment or two of what turned out to be unjustified panic.
And that is locked in racing mode with the Ferrari’s Manettino switch. We have tried Sport, but in the former it is so much livelier, but the ride is getting harder, but we have never found it openly solid. In fact, quite the opposite, and that even included the bumpy terrain about the kickbacks.
About the only regret we had during our day with the 812 Superfast was the fact that we couldn’t get close to the 8900 rpm redline (somewhere near enough) and the subsequent shrill of this beautiful masterpiece of a engine. For that you need a long straight, or a lot of clean air on a German Autobahn.
Only 12 percent of the 812 Superfast buyers cited ‘comfort on board’ as the main reason for purchasing, while performance and design achieved a score of 90/69 respectively. But that has never prevented Ferrari from taking in generous leather fitouts.
The 812 is almost entirely new on the inside – combining Italian craftsmanship and style with excellent comfort and ergonomics. Traveling long distances is a breeze in this thing. This is due to the generous seat cushion and the layout of all critical information.
You still get a big tacho in the center of the driver zone, but around it are two smaller infotainment screens for the navigation and vehicle information, so you don’t have to look far to get what you need. You even get Apple CarPlay.
And, just like the F12, your passenger will see how fast you are traveling, with a rev counter, g-force meter and gear position on their own 8.8-inch touchscreen. It is certainly a novel, but my co-driver was nevertheless fascinated – mostly with the speed display.
Not surprisingly, practical is not at all on the list of purchase triggers for this car, but the liftback design of the 812 actually means quite spacious as this segment goes, with 320-500 liters of luggage space.
It is a real shame that most people will never experience the Ferrari 812 Superfast, because it is perhaps the best GT ever built. It’s hard to imagine how they can improve it.
There are just no mistakes, except of course the $ 610,000 price tag, although many also see it as a bargain at a Lamborghini Aventador S ($ 891,500).
Unfortunately, it is probably also the last naturally aspiring production series that Ferrari has ever built, because hybridization is likely to power the next big grand tourer from Maranello.