This week, motoring expert Alvin Thomas enjoys time in the Ferrari 812 Superfast – the fastest car he has ever tested.
Diabolically quick. Mesmerisingly well-disciplined. Passionately designed.
It’s hard to let Ferrari’s latest creation – the 812 Superfast – slip through the cracks, as it raises the bar on an overcrowded market of painstakingly-devised supercars built to destroy speed records.
But with a rear-wheel drive platform and power that can flip birds from trees, there’s no doubt that you’re entering the unknown with this blunderbuss – and we love it.
There’s none of that humdrum (or sane) four-wheel drive action from the V12 GTC4 Lusso going on in here.
And that’s how the 812 Superfast stands out: by taking the supercar recipe one giant step forward and screaming perdente to all its less-blessed rivals – even in a clique comprising the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ, McLaren 720S, and the iconic Bugatti Chiron.
Put simply, the 812 Superfast’s forerunner, the F12, was a test of its own with the sheer insanity that was the 730 horsepower it hid under the bonnet.
This one is like sprinkling the former with a garnish of chilli and then dousing it all in wasabi.
In certain ways, it’s almost mind-blowing to think that the 812 Superfast is a road-legal car, given how it prompts in-your-face power and torque.
In some ways, it drives better than the Lamborghini Aventador SV, the buttons of which we pushed on a racetrack until its exhaust overheated.
This one, then, is a pure-bred racecar wrapped in a racy party frock.
Looks can be deceptive – and the 812’s exterior can’t be taken at face value. The front mid-engined layout is near automotive perfection. In short, it defies all odds to sit as Ferrari’s masterpiece.
Sharp wasp-tail lights whisk up an aggressive fascia while the air intakes allow the radiators and the engine to breathe.
The sculpted side profile is forceful, but these are designed by engineers in a wind tunnel to aid in maximum aerodynamic efficiency without compromising on technical prowess.
Much of this boils over to the rear, which comes with its own spoiler lip, F1-inspired diffuser, quad-exhausts that can unsettle even the most hardcore metal/rock music fanatics, and those gorgeous Ferrari 550 Maranello-inspired quad LED tail lamps.
Nothing about the F12 was decrepit but obviously the boffins thought that it could do with a bit more beans. So, the highly-bored (94x78mm) 6.5-litre V12 now breathes out 800hp at a towering 8,500rpm and 718Nms of torque at 7,000rpm – thereby making this the fastest car we’ve ever tested at Y.
This powertrain is then mated to Ferrari’s workhorse gearbox – the seven-speed dual-clutch automanual – that shifts gears quicker than the blink of an eye.
Zero to 100kph is achieved in 2.9 seconds if tamed with ‘Launch Control’ (a setting that dumps the clutch at the perfect revs to attain fast acceleration), or if left as is, it shreds away its mighty 315/35 tyres in the rear in a smoke of its own rubber.
And it’s not as if Ferrari didn’t think about that. Taming all this grunt is the F1-Trac stability control, traction controls, and Side Slip Control 5.0 (SSC).
If you think it makes a difference on paper, you’d be wrong – for the power is dumped to the wheels even when the Manettino dial is switched to ‘Snow’ mode.
Switch it over to ‘Sport’ or ‘Race’, however, and you’ll experience all the howling V12 fury and 800 horses coming at you all at once.
While the safety systems run in the background, they still expect the driver to keep a steady hand on the wheel.
A new and welcome addition is a four-wheel-steer system that kicks in to stabilise the car at high speeds. It reduces the car’s footprint in the corners but does an even more stellar job of giving the driver more control when they inevitably find the car’s back end near their face as they (unwisely) power-slide into a roundabout.
The all-electric power steering is a decent touch, and the car’s quick-ratio nature is alluring and there’s just enough weight and feedback to assure you that you’re not playing a computer game with a wheel.
There’s nothing surreal about driving the 812 Superfast, though, and you’ll need to be on red alert to control all the 1.6 tonnes as you find corners approaching faster and straights disappearing in the blink of an eye.
A peak of the torque – about 80 per cent – is dumped as low as 3,500rpm, and the sound from the exhausts is nothing short of animated.
Add to that the 340kph top speed and you’ll realise how close the Ferrari gets to the Bugatti Chiron – a car that requires almost twice the power and torque to achieve its record-breaking feats.
There’s a lot going for the 812 Superfast. Even as it justifies its ‘Superfast’ substrata with stats, it does just about everything a thorough-bred grand-tourer does. For instance, there’s a boot, a luggage area behind the seats and even a large glove compartment.
Space upfront – both head and legroom – is truly generous too, and you don’t need to twist your spine to get in and out of the car.
Then there are the high-grade calf leather interiors and supportive seats with adequate lumbar support and side-bolstering to keep us in place during some brief sideways action.
Despite this, the cabin is minimalistic.
There’s just no way to cram all the 812 Superfast’s attributes into these two pages.
This is the pinnacle of automation – and it undercuts its nearest rival, the Bugatti Chiron, by about a million-odd dollars.
• Engine: 6.5-litre V12
• Transmission: Seven-speed ‘dual-clutch’ auto-manual
• Power: 789hp
• Torque: 718Nms
• Top Speed: 355kph
• Rear-wheel drive
• Four-wheel steering
• 20-inch alloy wheels
• Side Slip Control 5.0
• F1-Trac Stability Control
• Electric power steering
• Carbon ceramic brakes
• Manettino dial w/ selective driving modes
• Virtual Short Wheelbase 2.0 system
• Xenon headlamps
• Carbon-fibre accessories
• Navigation system
• Passenger display