I’m not ashamed to admit that I grew up in a time when the most A-list pin-up machine for bedroom walls was the Ferrari Daytona with rear engine – a car that eventually became fully known. on the back of the hit 80s series, Miami Vice.
For the standards of that time it was not just eye candy. A 4.4-liter Ferrari V12 hid under the hood, with six Weber carburetors producing 262 kW of power.
Years later I was lucky enough to get some time behind the wheel of an almost new 550 Maranello, another large 12-cylinder Ferrari with front engine – this time with a stopping 5.5 liters and 357 kW off the tap. And what a drive that was.
That was 1997, and it would take almost 20 years for me to finally get power steering in another front engine supercar from Italy’s prancing stables – all I have to say is that it was worth the wait.
The F12 Berlinetta may have the same front engine layout as its celebrated predecessors, but believe me, this monster-powered Ferrari has more naturally absorbed firepower than the entire US military.
The 200 bar, 6262cc, 65 degree direct injection V12 engine is something to see, colossal. It generates an enormous 545 kW (730 hp) power at 8250 rpm (the speed up to 8700 rpm) and 690 Nm of torque at 6000 rpm. And most of it is available from just 2500 rpm.
The rest of the F12’s performance is just as impressive: 0-100 km / h in 3.1 seconds, 0-200 km / h in 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 340 km / h plus. It’s really amazing how Ferrari engineers can achieve this kind of power and performance without the help of the latest generation of turbos or superchargers.
It can drive Ferrari’s Fiorano test track flat in 1.23: 00 sec, making it faster than the legendary Enzo (1.24: 9sec) and even the large 599 GTO (1.24: 0sec).
Until the LaFerrari came on the market in 2013, with its V12 hybrid powertrain, the F12 was billed as the fastest Ferrari ever built. That said, it’s still a wildly fast car that is capable of stunning performance – on and off the track.
Calling it a technological feat is an understatement, especially when it comes to aerodynamics. There is no large wing, or even spoilers to appeal to, because you are running across the line of your favorite race track – they would have disrupted the design flow of the car and destroyed the look, according to the celebrated designer, Flavio Manzoni.
Instead, the F12 relies on a subtle but more complex design, with a good number of smart aerodynamic devices designed to reduce resistance, while all four wheels are glued to the asphalt at almost any speed.
Only the hood earns its own stand at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. Not only a beautiful piece of car art, but the “aerobrug” formed by the two channels on either side, helps to produce a maximum of 123 kg downforce at 200 km / h.
The pre-splitter contains active brake cooling – innovative valves that open to allow cool air to pass as soon as the car’s solid carbon-ceramic brake system sensors detect that things are starting to heat up. This stuff is still advanced, let alone 2012 when the car made its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show.
That said, I can’t say that the F12 is painfully beautiful in the same way that an Aston Martin Vanquish is, or even the Mercedes-AMG SL63, purely because there is so much more threat built in in the shape of the Ferrari. Some even find it intimidating.
And if we stay with Ferrari, then it is the entry-level California T that gets my wink as the most beautiful piece of design work in the current stable of the brand.
Ferrari describes his flagship as partly GT and partly supercar, but make no mistake, the F12 is a purebred street-legal racer with an old-school F1-style scream from the moment you pile up the rpm.
There is nothing fun on the road today, at least nothing under a million dollars. It’s like being on the track during an F1 race in the day, like the acoustic attack that this colossal engine delivers at full speed, with the tacha needle completely wrapped around 8000 rpm.
You simply can’t get enough from behind the wheel, but finding legally awaiting roads is always a problem here, so I think occasional groundbreaking explosions are a must if you’re lucky enough to have an F12 in your garage.
However, you must be on your guard because this thing will not hesitate to relieve the Pirelli’s back when you lose your patience with your right foot. I’m not saying there is a lack of grip due to the super wide tires, but the rear axle can sometimes be overwhelmed.
There is a lot of crackling and pop if you also get off the gas, and that’s just in Sport. It is even noisier if you throw the “manettino” on the steering wheel to the racing mode and everything immediately becomes more manly.
Throttle response is more than “razor-sharp,” and unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before, except for a full-fledged GT3 racer. It is an idea that is further enhanced by one of the most freely rotating engines in the world.
And just when you thought that driving couldn’t get better, you switch focus to the seven-speed dual-speed seven-speed gearbox and amaze you again.
If you thought Porsche’s own PDK transmission was pretty much the performance car benchmark (and it’s brilliant), Ferrari takes on the technology for an even faster shift speed – bordering on telepathic. And it does this in a still sophisticated way, as opposed to the torso-breaking violence of a Lamborghini Aventador at full tilt.
There are not many road cars that can claim to do justice to switch lights on the steering wheel, but the F12 is rightly legitimate in this regard, where they are a necessary addition to such savage V12 firepower.
And then there is the control; lighter than you would expect from such a stunningly fast exotic, and a seriously fast handlebar ratio, all of which have to get used to before you begin to feel confident behind the wheel.
In the beginning it feels almost convulsive, but you will soon enjoy how little hand movement is needed to weave through roundabouts or tackle those spiral funnels to city parking places – the sky forbids it.
If you happen to be on a racetrack or a curvy mountain pass, you will be surprised by the bulletproof braking power of the Ferrari, thanks to a number of really massive ceramic ceramic brakes and a wonderfully progressive brake pedal.
We were not so lucky during our few days with the F12 Berlinetta, instead we clocked most of our kays to the rhythm of the city / town, where at least the driving comfort was tested.
In the city you are aware of the considerable proportions, but that is countered by the feline agility of the car. And it is not necessary to switch on the paddle shifters, just press the ‘car’ button on the stylish center console bridge and you can go to the shops for a Piccolo with very little effort.
There is an underlying firmness to the adaptive spring system, regardless of the setting, but it is not crashing and in most cases it is completely comfortable.
The interior of the F12 is fantastic. Beautifully crafted leather upholstery, mixed with beautifully shaped alloy accents and painted carbon fiber, complete the equipment.
Drop into the sports leather seats and they feel as if they are specially adapted to your body shape (although they don’t look that way), such as the shaped fit and the precise level of support for those more exciting driving times.
I am also sure that there is a perfectly good audio system on board, but most would find it sacrilege to listen to something other than the V12 under the hood. So no, I have to confess that I didn’t turn it on.
Open the hatch however and you will find a surprisingly large amount of luggage space in a two-tier setup. It is more than enough for a week away and dare to say that a surfboard could easily swallow if those iconic surf clothing entrepreneurs are on the market.
There are faster, cheaper supercars on the market, but the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta already feels like an icon. It may also be the last naturally aspirated V12 Ferrari ever built, as increasingly strict emission regulations come into force.
Anyway, I feel privileged to have had the opportunity.