Fer­rari 812 Su­per­fast


Top Gear (Malaysia) - - Contents -

“When you buy a Fer­rari, you pay for the en­gine and I will give you the rest for free,” said Enzo Fer­rari, per­haps apoc­ryphally. The 812 Su­per­fast costs £262,963. I reckon that’s a fair price for this V12. It is ut­terly tran­scen­den­tal.

Other firms make V12s, and they’re per­fectly de­cent. Some are smooth, oth­ers are stri­dent, but this is some­thing else al­to­gether. It’s not the power, it’s not the noise, it’s not the re­sponse, and it’s not even a com­bi­na­tion of all those facets that makes it so spe­cial. One word: reach. The fig­ures say max torque ar­rives at 7,000rpm. The fig­ures are a non­sense. It’s the im­pact the V12 has at 2,500rpm that’s so shock­ing. Heck, it’ll pull gears from 800rpm on­wards, and at the other end: 8,900rpm. It’s got a far broader us­able rev band than any turbo, one that de­vel­ops with a tone, rich­ness and fe­roc­ity that has to be ex­pe­ri­enced to be be­lieved.

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 599 GTB and 550 Maranello to 365 Day­tona and 250 GT.

The 812 is a thor­ough over­haul of the F12. Let’s start with the en­gine, which has been ex­panded from 6.2 to 6.5 litres and nipped and tucked ev­ery­where else. The ’box is still mounted on the rear axle, so the 47:53 weight dis­tri­bu­tion favours the rear, while the 7spd dual-clutch trans­mis­sion now shifts 30 per cent faster. Power steer­ing is newly 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 and 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 (got to love the specifics).

So what sort of car is it? What I need to point out right away is that the 812 is not a grand tourer. I know Fer­rari says it is, but open the bon­net and have a look where the en­gine is. It’s nowhere near the front of the car. Treat it as a GT and the 812 is flawed. There’s a lot of tyre noise, the en­gine never truly pipes down, the gear­box surges the shifts when go­ing gen­tly, the gear­ing is un­fash­ion­ably short (112kph is 2,500rpm in top, when many sports car only pull 1,800rpm or so) and even with a 92-litre fuel tank, you’ll be do­ing well to risk go­ing much be­yond 483km be­fore fill­ing up. It didn’t help that this car was equipped with op­tional fixed-back car­bon seats (£7,200) and four-point har­nesses (£2,112).

Seal­ing and in­su­la­tion are de­cent, echoes are well con­tained, it does track straight and true, and the ride, once you’ve pressed the “bumpy roads” but­ton on the steer­ing wheel, is ef­fec­tive at de­liv­er­ing com­fort.

The cabin it­self is very pur­pose­ful. All the toys are aimed at the driver, who only has time to con­cen­trate on one: the gor­geous cen­tral rev-counter. There is no cen­tral in­fo­tain­ment; in­stead, all those func­tions are locked away in the twin screens that flank the rev-counter. Pity the poor pas­sen­ger who has noth­ing to do but cling on – you can’t spec­ify the pas­sen­ger dis­play from the GTC4Lusso and Portofino in the 812.

Is it lux­u­ri­ous? Not ex­actly, but it is beau­ti­fully made from won­der­ful ma­te­ri­als. Mostly. Con­sid­er­ing they cost so much, the harness straps don’t slide any­thing like as well as they should, and not having a cover on the pas­sen­ger sun vi­sor mir­ror seems cheap. But the car­bon steer­ing wheel (ad­mit­tedly a £2,880 op­tion) feels solid and fan­tas­tic to hold, and having all the in­stru­ments and di­als a finger­tip away does give this a very driver-ori­en­tated feel. The in­te­rior comes to you, if you like, keeps you oc­cu­pied – this is not some­where where you’ll be for­ever want­ing to plunge into the menus.

The driv­ing po­si­tion sits you low if you opt for these ag­gres­sive fixed-back car­bon seats. They’re not un­com­fort­able, but nor are they con­ducive to long-dis­tance loung­ing. Think about how you’re go­ing to use your 812 be­fore you start spec­c­ing it. Grand tour­ing is per­fectly pos­si­ble from a prac­ti­cal­ity view­point. The boot is big and there’s a size­able par­cel shelf be­hind the two seats. These can be linked to­gether by flip­ping up a sprung-loaded di­vider. A word of warn­ing: if you put your brief­case or other mod­estly weighty bag on the par­cel shelf and pro­ceed to ac­cel­er­ate with vigour, your brief­case will promptly re­lo­cate it­self to the boot, the di­vider having sprung open like a ma­gi­cian’s trap door.

Han­dling, then. This is a more ag­gres­sive car than the F12 – Fer­rari ad­mits they’re steered it into the gap be­tween the F12 and the F12tdf

(one of the most delin­quent, hy­per­ac­tive cars I’ve ever driven). What you have is a very fast steer­ing rack mated to rear-end steer­ing that re­ally likes to get in­volved. It feels al­most over­sharp­ened, so ea­ger to turn. It’s very clever,

be­cause as I said be­fore, it’s sta­ble and calm on mo­tor­ways, but give it a sniff of a cor­ner…

Turn-in grip is as­ton­ish­ing, the 812 mov­ing into the bend very fast, fast enough to catch you un­awares. It’s a very ac­tive car; you’re con­scious that there’s an aw­ful lot go­ing on, it’s com­ing to you fast and you don’t have a mo­ment to re­lax. Ini­tially it’s hard to drive smoothly and feels snatchy around cor­ners be­cause you’re not pre­pared for a car of this ilk to go in so hard and so quickly.

Once you start to get into it, you’ll find your­self tak­ing it out of bumpy road mode be­cause the soft damper set­ting in­tro­duces a lit­tle slack, de­lay and mushi­ness to the rear axle that you re­ally don’t want when you try­ing to de­ploy some small, but rapidly ex­pand­ing, pro­por­tion of 789bhp. It pours it­self down the road with such ur­gency, such pomp and drama that you get ut­terly caught up in the ex­pe­ri­ence.

The car­bon-ce­ramic brakes are good, but work­ing against the com­bined ef­fects of 1630kg and 789bhp, they have a lot to do. The big­gest is­sue is that even un­der mod­est re­tar­da­tion the hazards start to flash. But who cares about brak­ing when you have that pound­ing, thrash­ing, soar­ing, tri­umphant 6.5-litre V12 to play with? 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. OL­LIE MAR­RIAGE

“You’re not pre­pared for a car of this ilk to go in so hard and so quickly”

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