What is it?The mightiest V12 of them all. With the rest of a car attached. The rest of the car is good, the 6.5-litre V12 is transcendental. The 812 Superfast is, of course, the replacement for the F12berlinetta that was launched in 2012. Its a front-engined, rear-drive, two-seat super GT – a layout that occupies a special place in Ferrari mythology, tracing its roots back through the 599GTB and 550 Maranello to 365 Daytona and 250 GT.The 812 is not a total rethink, but a thorough overhaul of the F12. Lets start with the engine, which has been expanded from 6.2 to 6.5 litres and equipped with 350 bar direct injection, variable geometry inlet tracts and the ability to rev to 8900rpm. It produces 789bhp at 8500rpm and 717Nm at 7000rpm. Its naturally aspirated with no forced induction - just natural suck, squeeze, bang, blow.To even out the weight (more than, in fact – 53 per cent is over the rear wheels), the gearbox is mounted on the rear axle, a seven-speed dual clutch transmission that now shifts 30 per cent faster. Power steering is now electric, which has allowed Ferrari to fit it with a few tricks – it can talk to the onboard traction and stability systems and adjust steering torque in corners. Its also linked to a new four-wheel-steering system (Virtual Short Wheelbase in Ferrari-speak) similar to the one in the fearsome F12tdf. The brakes are from the LaFerrari (claimed to stop the 812 5.8 per cent faster than the F12, which is nicely precise), drag is reduced, downforce is raised (although Ferrari gives no nicely precise figures about that) and the gearing has been shortened by 6 per cent.What is it like on the road?The engine defines the 812 experience. Other cars have V12s and theyre very pleasant, but for the most part I dont see a V12 as anything outstanding – in Astons its smooth and muscular for instance, but many V8s have more character. Lambo does the V12 well, but Ferrari…This is something else. Its not the power, its not the noise, its not the response, and its not even a combination of all those facets that makes it so special. One word\: reach. The figures say max torque arrives at 7,000rpm. The figures are nonsense. Its the impact the V12 has at 2500rpm thats so shocking. Heck, itll pull gears from 800rpm onwards, and pull them hard. Its got a far broader usable rev band than any turbo. And at the other end\: 8900rpm. A power band 8000rpm wide. A powerband that develops with a tone and richness and ferocity that has to be experienced to be believed.And this is just one facet of its ability. The internals seem to be massless. How else do you explain the precision of the reaction to your right foot? And every time you touch the throttle – no matter how briefly or lightly, because all youre doing is nudging away from a set of traffic lights – you sense a deep connection and you appreciate, once again, just how special an engine can be. Treat it as a GT and the 812 is flawed. Theres a lot of tyre noise, the engine never truly pipes down, the gearbox surges the shifts, the gearing is unfashionably short (112kph is 2500rpm in top, when many sports car only pull 1800rpm or so) and even with a 92-litre fuel tank, youll struggle to do more than 480km without filling up. It didnt help that this car was equipped with optional fixed back carbon seats and four-point harnesses.Sealing and insulation is decent, echoes are well contained, it does track straight and true, and the ride, once youve pressed the bumpy roads button on the steering wheel, is decent. But this is not a car that likes to hum along with 112kph traffic – its too proud, too majestic for that.Handling, then. This is a more aggressive car than the F12 – Ferrari admits its steered it into the gap between the F12 and the F12tdf (one of the most delinquent, hyperactive cars Ive ever driven). What you have is a very fast steering rack mated to rear-end steering that really likes to get involved. It feels almost over-sharpened, so eager to turn. Its very clever - as I said above, its stable and calm on motorways - but give it a sniff of a corner…Turn-in grip is astonishing, the 812 moving into the turn very fast, fast enough to catch you unawares. Its a very active car, youre aware that theres an awful lot going on, its coming to you fast and you dont have a moment to relax. Initially its hard to drive smoothly and feels snatchy around corners because youre not prepared for a car of this ilk to go in so hard and so quickly.Once you start to get into it, youll find yourself taking it out of bumpy road mode because the soft damper setting introduces a little slack, delay and mushiness to the rear axle that you really dont want when youre trying to deploy some small, but rapidly expanding, proportion of 789bhp. You need more immediacy, more sense of connection so your brain gets the signals as fast as possible and can work out whats bump steer, whats 4WS, whats road surface and what it needs to do to make things right. Its a full-on experience, the 812 Superfast – you get that, right?It pours itself down the road with such urgency, such pomp and drama that you get utterly caught up in the experience. In many cars you worry about leaving too much noise in your wake and so on, but the 812 captivates you, conducts itself with such mastery and authority that you imagine ever other road user must be appreciating it as deeply as you are. Lets hope.The carbon-ceramic brakes are good, but working against the combined affects of 1630kg and 789bhp, they have a lot to do. The pedal is reassuring and they have decent bite, the biggest issue is that even under modest retardation the hazards start to flash and the tocking inside the cabin is off-putting when all youre trying to do is slow smoothly.You need a track or deserted autobahn to truly exploit it. On the road this is a car in which 100 per cent throttle is never a given. Its something to be aimed for, strived for, but not taken for granted. Instead relished, when the rare opportunity does present itself.But you still wont believe how much of that power the rear wheels will cope with. The traction, and the management of it through the stability control, is awesome. It is, entirely unsurprisingly, a very fast car across country and the suspension does a brilliant job of delivering stunning body control – the kind of control you need when theres 789bhp trying to get out. Progress is… well, scintillating is probably the best way to describe it. Eyes-on-stalks would be another.On the insideIt feels very purposeful in here. All the toys are given to the driver, and really, they only have time to concentrate on one\: the gorgeous central rev counter. There is no central infotainment - instead all those functions are locked away in the twin screens that flank the rev counter. Pity the poor passenger who has nothing to do but cling on – you cant specify the passenger display from the GTC4Lusso and Portofino in the 812.Is it luxurious? No exactly, but it is beautifully made from wonderful materials. Mostly. Considering they cost so much, the harness straps dont slide anything like as well as they should and not having a cover on the passenger sun visor mirror seems cheap. But the carbon steering wheel feels solid and fantastic to hold, and having all the instruments and dials a fingertip away does give this a very driver-orientated feel. The interior comes to you, if you like, keeps you occupied – this is not an environment where youre going to be wanting to reach for your phone all the time. Other than the fact you will be wanting to use it for your satnav – its a damn sight easier to use than Ferraris own.The driving position sits you low if you opt for these aggressive fixed-back carbon seats. Theyre not uncomfortable, but nor are they conducive to long-distance lounging. Think about how youre going to use your 812 before you start speccing it.Grand touring is perfectly possible from a practicality viewpoint. The boot is big and theres a sizeable parcel shelf behind the two seats. These can be linked together by flipping up a sprung-loaded divider. A word of warning. If you put your briefcase or other modestly weighty bag on the parcel shelf and proceed to accelerate with vigour, your briefcase will promptly relocate itself to the boot, the divider having sprung opened like a magicians trap door.VerdictOne day, when were all driving electric cars, museums will want to put a single example of the internal combustion engine on display. So we can look back and remember. It should be this one. This pounding, thrashing, soaring, triumphant 6.5-litre V12 is as far from the electric motor as it is possible to get. Forget museums, a place in heaven should be reserved for this engine. It deserves to sit on high with God the father.