Celebrating the Prancing Horse
As part of its 70-year anniversary Ferrari has recently unveiled the 812 Superfast, the most powerful and fastest Ferrari in the illustrious history of the marque.
This new 12-cylinder Berlinetta is also particularly significant in the long heritage of Maranello, as it was the V12 series which marked the official start of the glorious Prancing Horse story with the 125S in 1947. The Superfast thus ushers in a new era in Ferrari’s 12-cylinder history and, in doing so, builds on the invaluable legacies of the F12 Berlinetta and F12tdf.
So, with the Superfast not yet available locally, what better way to celebrate the glorious 70 year chronicles of Ferrari than by taking a F12tdf for a tour of Franschhoek?
Based on the F12 Berlinetta, the TDF moniker is a reference to the classic Tour de France car race, which point of fact commenced four years before the worldrenowned bicycle race. The first tour was held in 1899 on roads around France, and since then, annually (most often in July) until 1986 – 30 years before the F12tdf was brought into the market.
Ferrari’s 250 GT and GTO models won the event no less than 10 times in the 1950s and 1960s, so Ferrari commissioned the F12tdf (the full Tour de France name could not be used as this is trademarked by the two-wheeled, pedal-powered crowd) to celebrate this feat.
Essentially the successor to the 599 GTO, this front-engined V12 Ferrari is a harder, faster, more track-focused, but still road-legal derivative of the F12, of which 599 were made. Interestingly, a total of 799 F12tdfs were built, supposedly to satisfy pent-up demand for the F12.
The Ferrari for our trip is quite special itself, as it is one of the first F12tdfs produced – built in November 2015. Apart from this, it is also painted in a
special colour and features an inventory of optional extras too long to list here.
Compared to a normal F12, the F12tdf is more powerful by quite a margin – mostly owing to a free-breathing inlet on the 6.3-litre engine and motorsport-derived mechanics instead of hydraulic tappets, which are lighter, albeit noisier, allowing a higher rev limit of 8,900 r/min.
As if 574 kw and 705 Nm of torque is not enough, the F12tdf is also lighter, as much of the luxury interior (Alcantara and leather trim) has been replaced with carbon fibre pieces, saving a significant 110 kg of weight.
Its astounding agility is further improved by bigger front tyres (making it inherently more unstable) and active rear steering, which makes the car feel shorter and nimbler. According to Ferrari, this system increases response on turnin, improves high-speed stability, and reduces oversteer.
While it was not possible to evaluate these claims to their fullest extent, it took only a couple of sweeping corners and a few switchbacks to make it abundantly clear that this Ferrari is something special.
The best of it all is the glorious sound from its big, normally-aspirated V12 engine. Even without turbocharging, but with 80% of its maximum torque available from 2,000 r/min, the F12tdf has the thrust of a rocket when the pedal is planted.
With the engine note changing to a F1 car-like scream, the short shift times of the seven-speed dual-clutch auto ’box is necessary to keep the seemingly endless power fed to the wide wheels.
Interesting aerodynamic tweaks to the F12tdf includes a bigger rear spoiler, a wider, lower front splitter, floor wings, and “Aerobridge” additions behind the front wheels. They may not be elegant, nor subtle, but they all collaborate to gifting the F12tdf with its terrifying performance.
From standstill, it reaches 100 km/h in only 2.9 seconds, with 200 km/h flashing by after just 7.8 seconds. That is faster than most cars are able to reach 100 km/h! And, it can attain a top speed of 340 km/h.
For those who wish for the most powerful and exclusive Ferrari in the range, the F12tdf is an uncompromising sports car that will deliver exhilarating driving both on road and track, but is comfortable enough to qualify as a true grand tourer.
Now, the 812 Superfast has taken over the mantle from the F12 … the latest in a long line of appealing V12 GT cars, including icons such as the 250 GT, the 500 Superfast, the 365 Daytona, the 575M Maranello, and the 599. With a larger 6.5-liter V12 engine (588 kw at 8,500 r/ min and 718 Nm at 7,800 r/min) it has a claimed top speed of over 355 km/h, and also reaches the ton in just 2.9 seconds.
Through the complete integration with all the electronic vehicle dynamics controls, including the latest version of Side Slip Control (SSC), its powerful performance is made easier to handle and even more thrilling to exploit.
Seen in silhouette, the 812 Superfast has a sleekness reminiscent of the 365 GTB4 of 1969. The design of the flanks is characterised by muscular wheel-arches, imbuing the Superfast with the aggression warranted by its imposing engine. The four round tail-lights at the rear is inspired by tradition, and gives the 812 Superfast a broad, imposing stance.