Many things, but mainly the astonishing engine
Price, not as good a GT car as it could be
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. It’s 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. Let’s 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 529lb ft at 7000rpm. It’s 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. It’s 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's the verdict?
One day, when we’re 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.
Chris Harris, when he first drove the 812 Superfast wrote, “no-one else makes a car like this”. They really don’t. The engine is at the core of that, but the rest of the car… well it’s perhaps the proudest machine I’ve ever driven, a rolling national anthem to everything that makes Italy great. It’s up there with the Renaissance and pizza.
Seen in those terms, it’s hard to consider value for money, while flaws vanish into the background. Instead you experience the car, realise what a ruddy triumph it is and just have to celebrate that someone, somewhere still thinks it’s worth engineering and developing a car like this, a car unlike any other.