Review The Newest Ferrari 812 Superfast

When tasked with replacing a car like the awesome Ferrari F12, it must be two things: very exciting and just a little bit scary. The F12 was such a huge leap forwards over its predecessor, the 599, that it was hard to believe an entire model evolution hadn’t gone missing somewhere. 
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Yet five years later the new 211mph 812 Superfast is upon us, boasting an incredible 789bhp from its 6.5-litre V12 engine and enough new technical tricks to bamboozle every Magic Circle member.

As ever, the engine and gearbox lie at the heart of the car; the 75-per-cent-new V12 has swollen to produce more power and torque than any full-production Ferrari in history. The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox has also been comprehensively uprated, with shorter overall gearing and faster-than-ever shift times.

Review The Newest  Ferrari 812 Superfast

If anything, though, it’s the 812’s chassis and aerodynamics that have received the biggest makeover. So much so that, says Ferrari, we should think of the Superfast more as an all-new car, rather than a replacement for the previous one.

It’s still a front-mid-engined, rear-drive supercar, but there’s also a new rear-wheel-steering system, torque-variable electric power steering, a third-generation electronic differential, a new traction control set-up and a development of Ferrari’s Side Slip Control pioneered on the 458 Speciale.

This, combined with the power and torque increases, shorter gearing and lower kerbweight (down 60kg), has turned the 812 into a completely different animal. And that’s before you mention its new active and passive aerodynamic systems that help the car generate “much more downforce but also significantly less drag” than the F12.

So on paper it’s a weapon. Interestingly, though, the 812 still wears relatively conventional Pirelli P-Zero rubber. It’s a small point in isolation but actually gives one of the best indications about Ferrari’s intention with the 812 – because from its tyre choice to its chassis set-up, the Superfast is first and foremost a road car, not a track toy. In reality this means the magnetic suspension is perhaps a little softer and a fair bit more refined than you might expect.

On the road the Superfast feels intimidating, yes, mainly because of its size and expense. But after a while you do begin to appreciate just how usable it feels, how soothing its suspension is and how manageable it is day-to-day – despite the fact that all hell can break loose when you prod the throttle.

Review The Newest  Ferrari 812 Superfast

Traction is quite phenomenal, even when you open it up properly in a low-ish gear and rev the V12 all the way to its 8,900rpm limiter. But the 812 simply wouldn’t have that grip if it was set up to be harder and more aggressive in character, and that’s another indicator as to how road-friendly Ferrari has designed it to be. Even the steering has become heavier and a touch less frantic in its response, in order to make the car smoother and easier to drive.

If it sounds like we’re suggesting the 812 has become some sort of a pussycat, however, then think again. Its straight-line performance alone has gone from outrageous to thoroughly ridiculous. The 0-62mph sprint takes just 2.9 seconds and top speed is 211mph. But the number that will make your eyes water is the 7.9 seconds it takes to get from 0-124mph (200kph). That’s insane for a car this civilised. And on a circuit, it is cataclysmically quick – 1.5 seconds faster around Ferrari’s Fiorano test track than a 488, bosses say. Quite how the firm will ever top the 812 we have no idea. And at the moment, nor does Ferrari, you suspect. 

VerdictOne of the best names for one of the best front-engined, rear-wheel-drive sports cars in history, the 812 Superfast is just that; super fast. Maybe even crazy fast, in fact. But at the same time, Ferrari has built in more comfort, more civility, more luxury inside and out and, bizarrely, even more driver appeal. It’s still an intimidating car to drive, but time behind the wheel allows you to appreciate and respect its usability. It really is one heck of a car, and one we can’t wait to try back in the UK later this year



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