Is This The Fi­nal Fer­rari?

With hy­brid per­for­mance cars gain­ing ground, could the 812 Su­per­fast be the last mas­ter­piece with a pranc­ing horse badge to be pow­ered by the leg­endary, in­tox­i­cat­ing roar of a V-12?

Esquire (Malaysia) - - MACHINERY - Words by Kevin sin­tu­muang

Icame to Italy to say hello. Also, maybe, ar­rived­erci. The 812 Su­per­fast—yes, that is its real name—is, as the com­pany claims, the most pow­er­ful pro­duc­tion Fer­rari ever. Words worth cross­ing the At­lantic for. But the car gets its oomph from one of the rarest of en­gines: a nat­u­rally as­pi­rated V-12. No whin­ing tur­bocharg­ers. Just pure, unadul­ter­ated power as the gods of dis­place­ment in­tended. (The en­gine puts out 789 horse­power.) But with new, stricter en­vi­ron­men­tal re­stric­tions and the ad­vent of hy­bri­dis­ing all things with four wheels—even the top-of-the-line Lafer­rari is a hy­brid—it was ru­moured that this en­dan­gered beast could be one of the last of its kind.

The V-12 en­gine of any va­ri­ety has

al­ways been an un­com­mon breed, syn­ony­mous with lux­ury and easy au­to­mo­tive one-up­man­ship since the au­to­mo­bile’s pre-war days. Twelve is big­ger than eight or six, af­ter all. The hall­mark of the brand’s great­est hits—even more so than the red paint—was the thun­der­ous V-12 that pow­ered some of the best cars in its 70-year his­tory, from the very first Fer­rari, the 125 S, to the mod­ern-day Fer­rari Enzo. Ital­ian au­tomaker Lam­borgh­ini is also syn­ony­mous with sonorous, nat­u­rally as­pi­rated V-12s—it was in the com­pany’s very first model in 1963 and pow­ers its new­est bru­tal track ham­mer, the Aven­ta­dor S. BMW started of­fer­ing V-12’s in the mid-’80s, again, one would as­sume, to sat­isfy the era’s need for ex­cess. (You’ll still find it in the pres­ti­gious land yacht of the 7 Se­ries.) Mercedes of­fers the most va­ri­ety for those who want a V-12 in any­thing from a two-seater con­vert­ible to a pseudo-mil­i­tary Suv—they are found in six mod­els in their range. And all Rolls-royces have V-12s, be­cause why not?

In our eco-con­scious, tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced au­to­mo­tive cli­mate, are V-12s nec­es­sary, though? The V-6s in the Acura NSX and Nis­san GT-R make them among the fastest cars in the world. The Porsche 911 has al­ways had a flat six, and no one thinks of that car as slow. And who needs en­gines or even gaso­line, for that mat­ter? The Lu­di­crous ver­sions of the all-elec­tric Tesla Model X and Model S can hit 60mph in un­der three sec­onds on bat­ter­ies and elec­tric mo­tors alone.

Press the red start but­ton on the steer­ing wheel of the 812 Su­per­fast, hear the en­gine and ex­haust note that will cause birds to scat­ter in fear, and that is the be­gin­ning of your jour­ney into re­set­ting the pa­ram­e­ters of what is nec­es­sary in this world. And all of this is be­fore you’ve even stepped on the gas.

“Sound is more im­por­tant than per­for­mance with a V-12,” Fer­rari’s chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer, Michael Leit­ers, tells me. What’s the most im­por­tant met­ric? “Emo­tion,” he says.

Mar­ket­ing-speak, per­haps, but the Ger­man CTO (who for­merly worked at Porsche) says this rather earnestly. Take it on the road and one can im-

agine that if there is a tool to mea­sure ex­cite­ment some­where in the Fer­rari plant, the Su­per­fast may have bro­ken it. The first straight­away I hit on the way to the curvy, elevation-filled coun­try roads where Fer­raris are tested is in­tox­i­cat­ing. It feels like dip­ping into a lim­it­less well of heady horse­power and torque, ev­ery thou­sand rpm de­liv­er­ing a new high. Your head gets pinned to the head­rest; you laugh hys­ter­i­cally. Eighty per­cent of the torque can be tapped at a mere 3,500rpm and peaks at 7,000rpm. Trans­la­tion: It is fast off the line and fast when you’re al­ready go­ing fast. It earns its name. Zero to 62 in 2.9 sec­onds. You chase af­ter that vis­ceral speed, the in­com­pa­ra­ble roar, and the car de­liv­ers it with high drama.

But a V-12 is just part of the equa­tion that makes the Su­per­fast one of the most en­joy­able cars on the planet. It han­dles wind­ing, nar­row roads, more nat­u­rally suited for a tiny Fiat, with aplomb thanks to rear wheels that turn and se­ri­ous stop­ping power from car­bon-ce­ramic brakes the size of man­hole cov­ers. You can hold down the down­shift pad­dle and press the brake and the car will drop gears au­to­mat­i­cally for op­ti­mal power as you en­ter a curve. A suite of con­trol sys­tems like E-diff (elec­tronic torque vec­tor­ing) and F1-trac (elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol) help keep this su­per­car man­age­able even if you’re more ac­cus­tomed to driv­ing a mini­van.

All of this is fairly fu­tur­is­tic stuff for a Fer­rari, es­pe­cially in con­trast to the pri­mor­dial V-12 at the heart of it all. Still, it’s hard to en­vi­sion a world with­out an en­gine like this, one that pro­duces such a brash, sin­gu­lar sym­phony of dis­place­ment that Ital­ian nonni come out of their homes with a cadre of chil­dren in tow just to get a glimpse, and other driv­ers (at least in the part of Italy where Fer­raris are born) gra­ciously pull over so you can pass them. This can’t be the end of that world. This can’t be the last of the nat­u­rally as­pi­rated Fer­rari V-12’s, can it?

“Ab­so­lutely not,” head of prod­uct mar­ket­ing Ni­cola Boari tells me. He fol­lows up mat­ter-of-factly: “Our clients de­mand it.” In other words, where there’s a thrill, there’s a way.

En­gine 789 hp 6.5-litre V-12 Per­for­mance 0 to 62mph in 2.9 sec­onds

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