Jason Barlow29 February 2012

It's here: meet the new Ferrari F12 Berlinetta

The most powerful road-going Ferrari ever built, and successor to the 599, has finally arrived...

Ferrari F12

Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo likes to talk about different Ferraris for different sorts of Ferrari clients, but when it comes to the Prancing Horse's big front-engined V12 GT models, there's zero messing around. Meet the all-new F12 Berlinetta, and if the name lacks the flamboyance we've come to expect from Maranello, the rest of it will blow your mind. And possibly your ear-drums, too.

Like the 599 GTB Fiorano which it replaces, the F12's undoubted USP is that thumping great V12. A reworked version of the unit that first appeared in the FF, it shares the same 6262cc capacity and 65 degree configuration, but its power output is increased by approximately 80bhp to just over 730bhp (740CV), and it produces 509 torques. In other words, the F12 is the most powerful road-going Ferrari ever. Factor in a dry weight of 1525kg and you can imagine what sort of performance this thing delivers: 0-62mph in 3.1 seconds, 0-124mph in 8.5, and a top speed of 211mph. So, quite fast, then. Fast enough, in fact, to blitz Ferrari's Fiorano test track in 1min 23 seconds, a time that outpoints even the Enzo supercar to make this the quickest Ferrari road car to lap the famous circuit.

See more pics of the new Ferrari F12

It's hugely sophisticated, too. There's an all-new aluminium spaceframe chassis, which mixes and matches 12 different kinds of alloys to reduce weight and improve structural rigidity by 20 per cent. And despite that front-mounted V12, the F12 has optimum weight distribution, 46/54 front to rear. The centre of gravity has been reduced, and the engine, interior and seats all sit 25mm lower in the chassis. A new rear suspension layout and redesigned rear transaxle also help reduce the F12's rear volume. It's a smaller, more muscular car than the 599, a car that could feel a little too big to be comfortably punted down a typical British back-road when you weren't swanning about in Monaco.

Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa is adamant that Ferrari will be sticking to its V12 format, despite rising environmental pressure to switch to a smaller turbocharged configuration. It helps that while the F12 is more powerful than its predecessor, it's also much more efficient - it uses 30 per cent less fuel and CO2 emissions of 350g/km are very impressive for a 730bhp V12. More than anyone, Ferrari's F1-to-road technology transfer is key, and the new car has exceptional aerodynamics. There are two highlights: the first is something called an Aero Bridge, which sees the shape and form of the F12's bonnet funnel air away from the top part down towards the sides of the car to increase downforce. Then there's Active Brake Cooling, which opens vanes to the cooling ducts at high operating temperatures to reduce drag. There are five outlets underneath the car, and in effect these various innovations mean that the car's shape is unsullied by an out-sized rear spoiler.

Elsewhere, the new car features the latest evolution of Ferrari's ceramic brakes and magnetorheological dampers, and a fully integrated electronic chassis architecture that expertly manages the electronic differential, traction and stability control systems, and ABS.

Inside, the F12's cabin volume has been deliberately stream-lined, and the dash layout is far more modern. You can make up your own mind about the car's styling: it's a new Ferrari, it's the latest product of Ferrari's Centro Stile partnership with Pininfarina, and the internet debate will no doubt rage for weeks. But think of the F12 as a mix of 458 Italia and 599 GTO, mashed up with that classic Ferrari V12 GT playboy thing, and we're pretty sure you will not experience disappointment the first time one blasts past you.

Top Gear will be driving it in late June. We don't expect to be disappointed either.

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