Superlatives have a short shelf-life in the automotive world. Today’s “world’s-fastest” is tomorrow’s also-ran. And the same could almost be said of this F12 Berlinetta. The quickest Ferrari road car to date may soon be eclipsed by the new 963 horsepower LaFerrari hybrid. Yet, this is a Ferrari like we like them: a V12 up front and only two seats behind. So, is this a Ferrari for the ages, or one destined to be yesterday’s news?
The 2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta may be the fastest street-going Ferrari ever, but “Spoiler Alert”, it is also the gentlest. It feels downright docile on striped pavement. And while Ferrari has certainly made strides in this area over the past decade, we weren’t expecting them to have achieved this level of civility.
But this test is no “Driving Miss Daisy”, as listening to the V12 engine build its way up to its 8,700 RPM red-line is totally “Fast and Furious”, and the expected music to the ears.
The F12 follows the front engine, rear drive layout of previous GT Ferraris but replacing a car like the 599 GTB is a bit like divorcing one supermodel to marry a younger one. But, the F12’s vivacious curves are purposeful as well as drop dead gorgeous.
The Aero Bridge hood catches air flowing over the car and funnels it out the side accomplishing both desired effects of increased down force and reduced drag. An integrated spoiler flows across the entire rear and works with the split diffuser to keep the air flowing, while the F1-inspired fog-light just looks cool. And it all must really work, as Ferrari claims that the F12 is quicker around their Fiorano test track than even the Enzo.
The chassis is aluminum-intensive and at 3,593-pounds, weighs in more than 100-pounds less than the 599. It’s also more compact, and cramming a V12 engine into a smaller chassis than the 599 is like shoehorning 12-pounds of awesomeness into a 10 pound container. But, they did it with even more purpose to the art of engineering than its predecessor.
That awesomeness, by the way, is an all-new 6.3-liter naturally aspirated V12 with a 13.5:1 compression ratio to whip up 731-horsepower and 509 lb-ft. of torque.
Transmission is the familiar rear-mounted F1 dual-clutch automated manual, but it’s been updated with gear ratios specifically for the new V12. It shifts just about perfectly whether by your decision or the cars; though like a thoroughbred raised for the track, it’s not a fan of going too slow and will let you know its displeasure.
Keep it happy by staying on the throttle and, when used with the launch button, will whip you from 0-60 in just 3.1-seconds. E-Diff3 directs distribution of power to the rear wheels, and dual-coil SCM-E magnetic-ride handles suspension duties, seemingly predicting road conditions rather than reacting to them. Steering is hydraulic; no electric assist here, and it works with a precision that must be experienced to be fully appreciated.
As much or as little electronics as you wish are available to help you through the steering wheel’s Manettino dial. It’s definitely best to keep some on; unless you’re prepared to deal with the consequences of misappropriating over 700 horses. Standard carbon-ceramic discs are there to help as well, and they do work well behind 20-inch 5-spoke wheels.
Like a typical Ferrari, just about every part of it evokes a passion that’s not easily explained, and that emotion certainly carries over to the interior where you’ll find Italian leather spread about liberally, as well as a new level of interior fit and finish for the brand. Still, everything looks stripped down and purposeful, there’s no touch screen here; but it’s also impeccable, as the steering wheel itself is pure automotive art.
Like the 599, there’s seating for only two, but they’ll be plenty comfortable road tripping, and trunk space is more generous than it appears, as the 11.3 cubic-ft of space expands to 17.7 after lowering the rear bench panel.
Our time with the F12 was too short, but really is any amount of time in a Ferrari enough? Government Fuel Economy Ratings are improved over the 599, but still supercar-like at 12-City, 16-Highway, and 13-Combined.
As for pricing, with gas guzzler tax and destination, expect to shell out close to $330,000. The fastest, it seems, doesn’t come cheap.
Packing this much exotic performance into a daily friendly design is a feat that only Ferrari has achieved. We’re not sure how much more extreme Ferrari can go in either direction, but if they keep building cars like the 2013 F12 Berlinetta, we’ll continue to be thrilled to go along for the ride.
Engine: 6.3-liter V12
Torque: 509 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 3.1 seconds
EPA: 12 mpg city/ 16 mpg highway