The new Ferrari GT has all that makes you fall in love with it: power and personality, and style and sensibility. Alvin Thomas merges with the chassis and flirts with the limits to tame the monster.
Is the Ferrari 812 Superfast a supercar? Or is it a hypercar? Wait a second: what if it is just a spruced-up grand tourer? The answer to that I will never know for sure; partly because I spent half my time behind the wheel of the 812 Superfast screaming “powweeerrrrr” like a maniacal kid controlling a PlayStation game; and the other half concentrating painstakingly hard as I flirted with the limits of grip and astounded by what the car has to offer to its driver… while the chassis was still flat on all four-wheels, that is.
Ladies and gentlemen, this then is my first look – a sneak peek of sorts – and impression of the all-new Ferrari 812 Superfast.
Before I head into the specifics, though, there is something I can tell you right away: this is not a car for the faint-hearted. So, if you’re not keen on cars such as this, it’s best you flip through the pages.
As for those of you who stayed, things only get better – and feistier – from here on.
I was presented the keys to the 812 Superfast earlier last week at an exclusive – and by exclusive, I mean really, really exclusive – event hosted by the folks at Al Fardan Motors at the Muscat Bay.
There is not a lot to talk about the 812 Superfast, at least not until you settle into the car. To a passerby, the car may quite simply seem as a replacement to Ferrari’s not so unsuperfast F12 (more so the pimped-out F12 TDF, actually!).
To us enthusiasts, things start to take shape once you flump into the cockpit of the car. For starters, you sit low – as is the norm with cars of such a stature.
It is not the first time that I have settled into a car like I was trying to wear it for pants. But, when you see the car in person, you’re pushed into a façade; you expect it to ride high, like a grand tourer. Oh, but I was wrong, and pleasantly so.
Instead, you must lower yourself into the rather brilliantly supportive and well-engineered (duh!) bucket seats, and become a part of the chassis.
It was also when I realised that I was far, far away from the regular 500- and 600-horsepower blunderbusses; and that this was the real deal.
Then, it was my turn to push the ‘Start’ button on the beautifully laid-out steering wheel. Upon doing so, I began to think: “why on earth did I ever criticise Ferrari’s (seemingly complicated) steering wheel when it first broke into the scene?”
This is how all cars must come straight from the factory; indicator buttons, wiper control and light functions, all ready for your command, on the wheel.
But just as I began to take bother of the miniscule details, the alternator kicked in to crank the engine (which resides in the front) and before I knew it, the twelve-cylinder heart – which comprises a meaty 6.5-litres of cylinder volume – began its cycles. And boy, it was truly momentous, if a bit philharmonic!
Mind you, this is not the first V12 car that I have driven, so it didn’t take me long to realise that the engine is jauntier and much, much louder than most vehicles in this class. The engine also beckons an unbelievable, yet anticipated, 789hp (or 800ps), and 718Nm of torque at 7000rpm.
What this means is that you will be inevitably hitting the redline to eke every bit of power out of the prancing Italian masterpiece of an engine. And that, folks, is exactly what I did… eventually.
Smashing the throttle all the way down requires you to possess a certain iron-clad set of… err… let’s say guts. The ideal way to approach the throttle – at first – would be to play with the revolutions and come to grips with the sheer power that you have on tap.
Remember: the 812 Superfast packs a whole 60hp more than its predecessor. In comparison, the car is also lighter than a BMW M3 (!) and packs as much power as six hatchbacks, so it’s wise to remind yourself what you’re dealing with, every now and then.
There’s no shame in backing out; but that was not what I envisioned – not when I was asked to push a Ferrari to its limits. Instead, I found an open (and safe) stretch of tarmac and floored it.
The engine was soon revving its way to the redline at 8900rpm, and the seven-speed “F1” dual-clutch gearbox kept the needle shifting back and forth (in split seconds) the torque bands, as the environment gyrated into a blur.
Thankfully, and unlike the F12 Berlinetta, the 812 Superfast provides twist (torque) from the get-go and builds it in a crescendo; this is also the case with the power curve.
Of course, I had to abide by the laws, so my burst of adrenaline came to an end in a mere three seconds – which is the time taken to hit the 100kph mark.
Sometimes it’s quite hard to believe that the 812 Superfast is road legal.
In any case, I then approached a tight corner and before I could realise, I was completely in the zone; all my questions about the two-door Berlinetta-style car soon disappeared into oblivion.
Handling the 812 Superfast – or any car with such fire power under the bonnet – requires a certain amount of finesse. One mistake and you could very well be on your way to an expensive insurance claim. It’s bonkers, I tell you.
Yes, it’s a Ferrari, and yes, the nameplate assures you a car that can master the bends and troughs at the Fiorano test track in Maranello (or any other) with utmost ease.
But nothing can truly describe the way this car devours corners.
Thanks to its four-wheel steering system, the dimensions of the car do not factor into the way this car attacks the bends. This makes way for a ‘virtual short wheelbase’ as the rear-wheels clock in various degrees of steering angle to complement the steering lock on the front axle.
While this makes for a very complicated and unnatural feeling at first, you begin to laud the amount of grip the car offers you at incredibly high speeds. Keep in mind: this is a car with an implausibly wide body, and a long wheelbase and track.
It’s quite hard to tone down my juvenile-ness and factor in some objectivity here, but I can report that I was indeed pushing the gas pedal down hard to test the threshold; I wanted to see how much I could flirt with the rear wheels before the back-end gave away to reveal some tyre-smoking oversteer.
Because you have all the power at your feet, the latter is quite easy to invoke. But, the ‘Sport’ mode still lets the electronic nannies take control. This means that the stability control will kick in every time the Pirelli P-Zero tyres implore for grip, and the SSC 5.0 (the new generation of side slip control) will remain on standby should you make a hash of things. You must take this car to a racetrack to test out its full potential, though.
Throughout the course of my short test drive, I could tell the difference between the “new” electric-steering unit in the 812 Superfast and the hydraulic steering rack that is found on its other products (like the 488GTB, GTC4Lusso, etc.).
I cannot comment on whether it was a consequential switch – at least not until I drive the car for a longer period.
But, it does feel a bit hyper-active, at times, and often fails to talk to the driver. It’s almost like the car perturbs itself just to test out whether the electronic systems are in check – it’s very Italian in that sense.
The carbon-ceramic brakes are impressive, offering exceptional (and linear) stopping power. Of course, you would have to generate quite a lot of heat in them to stop from squealing during normal use. Although, I cannot be sure of who can listen to the squeaks with that engine running.
Shutting off the engine – after 10-odd minutes behind the wheel – was the moment I realised that I had come back down to reality. And that’s also when I stepped out of the car to admire the work put in by the engineers and designers who worked in tandem on this car.
The cuts and inlet chisels on the bonnet, and the wide grinning grille intended to channel dense oxygen-rich air to the mighty V12, are necessary to keep the engine cool and the car composed.
The winglet-style rear spoiler is there to stabilise the car at high speeds, and the intakes on the B-pillar aligns the car to its predetermined line during fast driving.
The car doesn’t photograph too well, but it looks marvellous in person. My tester – which was finished in rosso corsa (red) – looked its part, no doubt.
Now this brings me back to my earlier question about its place in the Ferrari lineup. While I still haven’t been able to come up with an answer to it, I can tell you this: the Ferrari 812 Superfast is super-fast, and it is – by a mile – Maranello’s best attempt at conquering the ultra-exotic GT-supercar territory, thereby leaving its competitors metaphorically holding their crotches in agony.
So, as far as car names go, it doesn’t get any more literal than this.