APPARENTLY ENZO FERRARI SAID THAT WHEN YOU BUY a Ferrari you pay for the engine, the rest of the car is free, so let’s start with the V12 in the long, long nose of the 812 Superfast. Based on the motor from the F12 and the special-edition F12tdf, the V12 has been stroked out to 6.5 litres from 6.3 and is claimed to be 75 per cent new. Over a presentation as lengthy as the 812’s hood, we’re briefed on the new crankshaft, new con rods, stronger crankcase, new cylinder heads and improved inlet and exhaust valve designs that improve flow coefficient by 8 percent. The variable geometry intake tracts have been improved with wider throttle valves and a larger diameter air inlet. The new fuel injection system is a big deal, now operating at 350bar (from 200) and has smaller injectors delivering smaller fuel droplets to improve combustion. And the compression ratio goes up to a crazy 13.64:1.
The result is a staggering 789bhp of power, made at a stratospheric 8500rpm (the 8 in 812 references the 800PS of power, 12 the number of cylinders). Max torque is 718Nm, peaking at 7000rpm, but 80 per cent of grunt is available from 3500rpm. And unlike the F12 where the torque petered off towards the top, in the 812 the torque curve pretty much mirrors the power curve building up to a crescendo at max revs. And what max revs it pulls! 8900rpm! I’ll repeat that, 8900rpm from a large capacity V12 motor! Can you even begin to imagine what a V12 motor shrieking at 8900rpm sounds like?
OUR DAY BEGINS TRUNDLING THROUGH THE STREETS of Modena, the 812 Superfast in Sport (normal in a Ferrari is Sport, how appropriate that is!), the gearbox in full auto, suspension in bumpy road for roads in Italy aren’t the smoothest. Car manufacturers go through great lengths to find great driving roads for car launches – smooth tarmac, scenic, sparsely trafficked, exotic pin code and then even smoother tarmac – but not Ferrari. You pick up the car at Fiorano and head out on regular Italian streets, bumps, traffic, crazy Fiat Panda drivers and all you and your driving partner wonder where the famed hills of Modena have gone, why we’re being taken through these little towns.
And then you realise, heck, the 812 SF is actually very easy to drive. The ride quality for such an immensely powerful car is absolutely lovely, there’s not a shunt from the driveline, the engine purrs like a pussy cat at 3000rpm and the interiors are lovely. Even economy and emissions have improved over the F12 and there’s a stop-start system that cuts the engine when you’re decelerating below 10kmph. This is a GT car and it is Grand Touring rather beautifully. And I know you don’t care about any of this. An hour later we are where we want to be. The hills. Traffic has all but cleared out, the surface hasn’t improved dramatically and neither has it become any wider, and we remind ourselves that Italian cops don’t have a problem with a Ferrari being tested with vigour. Race mode. Down the ’box. Floor it.
Obviously the 812 SF is very, very fast. 789bhp cannot be anything but utterly mad. You don’t expect anything other than the horizon to be caught by surprise and smash through the windscreen and land in your lap. But, my god… there’s fast and there’s super fast. First off it’s ridiculous how it puts down all the power. The 812 SF doesn’t rely on all-wheel drive, each of the rear tyres has to deal with nearly 400 horses, and the roads aren’t baby-butt smooth. Yet the e-diff finds grip, the suspension rides over bumps and she goes. Reactions are instant Electric seems like a rather tame word to describe the responses. Your eyes pop out at the turn of speed, or more like sink into their sockets. It’s off the charts. It runs up to 8900rpm so quickly in first gear, the shift lights on the steering wheel light up so quickly, it’s best to leave the gearbox to its devices and bang in the next gear. It’s the precise reason why no Ferrari gets a manual gearbox anymore – the human just cannot row through the gears quickly enough.
The times. 0-100kmph is claimed in 2.9 seconds. 0-200kmph in 7.8 seconds. Top speed is 337kmph. And the sound of that V12! The engine breathes out through two six-into-one exhaust manifolds with pipes tweaked to enhance the V12’s scream, and the higher you rev it the more magnificent it sounds. At 8500rpm in second gear it is impossibly loud, impossibly fantastic. It barks, fizzes, shrieks, screams and runs through the entire orchestra to deliver the most spine-tingling mechanical notes I’ve heard in a long while. The F1 powers-that-be, ought to make a trip to Maranello and hear an 812 SF screaming through the gears. And from the outside an 812 SF bombing past you is physically shocking, forget the aural assault. Like a low-flying fighter jet. You duck for cover. I can’t imagine how this can even be legal.
And then there are the downshifts. My most recent experience with a Ferrari was emptying out two tanks of petrol on deserted flat-out roads outside Dubai in a 488 Spider and not once did I think the gearbox needed to be quicker in its responses. Well, the 812 SF’s gearbox has become quicker! Compared to the F12 the gear ratios have been lowered by an average of six per cent to improve acceleration, while paddles respond quicker and there is improved torque managements reduce upshift times by 30 per cent and down shift times by 40 per cent. It’s now 300 milliseconds. W-H-A-T? Hard on the brakes, keep the left paddle pulled, and the ‘multi-down’ function will go down three gears in one second! It’s the best gearbox in supercardom. And then Ferrari unleashed the acoustic engineers to tune the blip on the downshift to make those hairs that are already standing on the back of your neck jump out of their roots. Good grief. It’s time to take a breather.