Ferrari 812 Competizione Review 2023 | Top Gear
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Wednesday 4th October
Car Review

Ferrari 812 Competizione review

Published: 09 Nov 2021
A fascinating and fast send off to what might be one of the great engines. The 812 Comp is a wild triumph we'll look back on in years to come

Good stuff

The Ferrari you dream of: fast, technical and offers a romantic experience you can't get elsewhere

Bad stuff

It's expensive. And sold out. And could be the end of the naturally-aspirated V12 engine as we know it. Boo


What is it?

Quite possibly the end of an era – so get those tissues ready ­– as the 812 Competizione might well be the last Ferrari production car to get a raucous naturally-aspirated V12 without the assistance of any e-fizz or turbos. No matter how many times - or bluntly - we asked, Ferrari’s Puma-clad engineers dodged the question like greased politicians. Whether we like it or not, we know there’s a sell-by date on these big, thirsty, exciting twelve cylinders. And we’ve already seen forced induction and hybridisation come in to do some of the heavy lifting with regards to horsepower at Ferrari. But, if this is the last hurrah, it's quite a remarkable bit of punctuation to end an age of engines.

The 812 Competizione is the pumped up and finessed version of the 812 Superfast. A 789bhp front-engined two-seat super GT that wasn’t named ironically. So think of the 819bhp 812 Comp as an 812 Superfaster. Or VerySuperfaster. It follows on from a spiky lineage of race-inspired front engine rear-wheel-drive V12 Ferraris; the brow moistening 599 GTO and psychotic F12tdf. Both of those required substantial bravery to tame, and the newest evolution isn’t any less intimidating.

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Look at it. It's vicious, angular, and menacing. A technical and visual representation of trickle-down technology from Ferrari’s Billionaire’s Boy Club R&D facility, the XX programme. It looks like a modernised, road-going version of the 599XX race car. Because it basically is. The Comp is what happens when you give Ferrari’s biggest boffins an 812 Superfast, wind tunnel and dyno room and tell them “No Nintendo or Nonna’s pasta until you’ve made an 812 Superfaster!” What they did come back with was an apex predator in the Ferrari lineup.

What's been done to the engine?

It’s the same 6.5-litre block as the standard 812 Superfast but the internals have been refined and triple distilled for more performance. The pistons have been redesigned, the titanium con-rods are 40 per cent lighter, while a diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating shrouds the piston pins. There’s a rebalanced crank (three per cent lighter than before), new cylinder heads, F1-tech for the cams, a redesigned intake system (across manifold and plenum) and variable geometry inlet tracts.

Better than that, the redline has elevated itself to a God-like 9,500rpm. All being told, power is now at an outrageous 819bhp while torque is 513lb ft. All fed through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. And the rear wheels. But if you think the engine is shocking, just check out the way it looks.

Weighing 38kg less than a standard 812, the Comp is dressed in an armour of fast. Aero is the name of the game and the simulations shown in the car’s technical presentation were so colourful and vivid we were half expecting a shaman to have to be present in the room.

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So it's powered by fuel and witchcraft, eh?

You bet. All in, the Comp generates 30 per cent more front downforce than the Superfast and you can see where it’s made as there are vortex generators everywhere. Most prominently on that new carbon backplate that replaces the rear screen. Protruding from it are three pairs of profiled carbon boomerangs that distort the flow of air and fire it across the rear axle but also to the taller, full width spoiler that runs into the bloated bodywork from flank to flank. That incongruous wart in the centre of the carbon panel? A rear-view camera – just like an XX race car.

Air management is also key for cooling that V12 furnace up front. In the cheeks of the front bumper sit two huge ‘air catchers’ acting as buckets to scoop as much fresh cool air into the engine and brakes as possible. Across the bonnet, a carbon air blade that not only visually shortens the bonnet to give it a more aggressive and less GT look, but also extracts heat while also deflecting air up over the roof and down the sides as an aerodynamic device. There’s also a fourth function, what Ferrari call a ‘3D livery’ – as it mimics the famous Ferrari livery of Belgium team Ecurie Francorchamps in a more sculptural form.

You may be wondering what those three horizontal slots behind the rear wheel are for. Well, they’re a nod to Ferraris of the past, most recently the F12tdf. But – again – they’re multi-purpose, relieving wheel well pressure while also helping feed air into that monster rear diffuser nestled between those outrageously purposeful motorsport exhausts. Given Enzo Ferrari once said, “aerodynamics are for people who can’t build engines", you have to applaud the folks in the factory.

What's the verdict?

If the 812 Competizione is the last Ferrari to have a naturally-aspirated V12, we can’t think of a better way of going out with a bang

If the 812 Competizione is the last Ferrari to have a naturally-aspirated V12, we can’t think of a better way of going out with a bang. It’s a raucous expression of what’s possible. When ICE cars are banished in 2030, this is one we'll look back fondly on.

The Comp brings all the romanticism, technology and performance you expect from a Ferrari and is probably its purest product in the lineup. It’s viciously fast, satisfyingly intimidating but also not spiteful in its actions when treated with respect.

If this is what’s seen as a legacy product in the future, it’s a legacy Enzo can be proud of.

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