The Fabulous Ferrari F12
I sit, reminisce, and reflect on what has been a truly mind-blowing experience. For many years I have been blessed with the privilege of driving many supercars, but never has one impressed me as much as this.
Our last Ferrari test was in the fabulous 458 Spider, and having spent hundreds of miles previously behind the wheel of the hard topped version, the Italia, I found it hard to imagine how it was possible to beat that car on sheer ability. The Ferrari spokesperson’s response to this conclusion was ‘Ah, but wait until you try the F12’. He was right – the bar has been raised…again.
The F12 is powered by a 730 bhp V12, without doubt the most beautiful engine I have ever seen. It generates 690 NM of torque, or loosely put it has about seven times more pick up power on the move than an average family saloon. 0-62 mph is achieved in 3.1 seconds, and it is only too eager to reach its 211 mph top speed. To give you some idea of the levels we are talking about here – you can comfortably change from first to second at 60 mph (or even more) with another five more dual clutch Usain Bolts just waiting for a flick of the paddle.
Yet the driveability of this car is even more impressive than its staggering performance. On our test drive, the rain was falling in buckets, and showed no sign of letting up. In fact, my young photographer and passenger for the day had a positively sullen look on his face. He wasn’t worried about the pics; they were already done – no, his disappointment lay in the prospect that the incessant rain was going to take the edge off his dream drive in a Ferrari. But he was wrong; for in his own words the rain enhanced the excitement of the drive, and showed the exceptional abilities of this car in a way that otherwise may not have been possible. Being young, he had it all film recorded on his mobile phone, and according to his mates he has spoken about nothing else since. And he's a Nissan Skyline owner.
The F12 is as engaging at 40 mph as it is at 70 mph, and how it manages to contain 730 bhp into such a manageable and safe handling package is simply incredible. Although this style can only be advocated for track, not road, this car is so well sorted and predictable that you can slide the rear end to any predictable angle you like in the wet, for it gives you enough confidence to ease it back into line without fuss or drama. And yet, such is the prodigious power of the F12 that it is capable of breaking rear end traction in any of the intermediate gears on a dry straight road. The genius of the F12 is the marrying of the two extremes. Engineers need look no further for a solution to containing 730 bhp into a road car; the answer is the Ferrari F12.
“We’re going to fly”
Nothing quite prepares you for the searing standing-start acceleration of the F12. It’s razor keen and raw from the outset. The V12, howling to be released, screams in orgasmic joy as you plant that throttle. Take sex out of the equation and think of the last time you were taxi-ing in an aeroplane on a runway, the pilot applies full power for take-off, and you get that surging push in the back. Well, multiply that force by three and that’s how it feels to be seated in an F12 under hard acceleration. In the words of my passenger, sitting with both hands clutching the side of his seat and the rocket – like acceleration seeming to never end, "It feels like we’re going to fly".
But probably not, for ingenious aerodynamic innovations keep the car rooted to the ground. The F12 has a drag coefficient of 0.299, and generates 123kg of downforce at 200 km/h. The ‘Aero Bridge’ design concept uses the car’s bonnet to create downforce, and Active Brake Cooling automatically opens spoiler integrated air vents to cool the brakes.
Not surprisingly, the state-of-the-art technology in the F12 is endless, yet its mathematical genesis is simple: less weight, more power. The F12’s space frame chassis and bodywork are completely new and uses 12 different aluminium alloys to contribute to getting the weight down to just 1,525 kg, whilst boosting torsional rigidity by 20%. The F12’s bloodline predecessor, the 599 GTB Fiorano, is a 1688 kg heavyweight by comparison, and the F12 betters its fuel consumption and emission levels by 30%.
The human factor
It may be a tired cliché when it comes to Ferraris but this car simply oozes passion, beauty, and style. We couldn’t park the car for two minutes without it attracting a crowd. On one occasion on parking up for photography, a car drove up to us and the driver said “I know nothing about cars, I haven’t a clue what that is, but all I can say is that it’s the most beautiful car I have ever seen". Ferraris reach out to your soul. On two occasions, after a couple of women blew kisses to me, I thought just how lucky Ferrari are to have someone as good looking as me behind the wheel; Ferraris even bring out inflated egos.
Best not to self-delude behind the wheel though, as being one of the fastest cars on the planet, the F12 demands a responsible approach. While the antics described earlier show F12 genius on the test track, it doesn’t mean the F12 cannot be enjoyed within legal limits on the road. It is truly enjoyable and rewarding to drive at any speed and, for those who choose to, it has the usability and reliability of every day transport. Yes, there’s a seven year warranty even with Ferrari’s these days, (and a decent sized boot), and taking account that this car has the true ability to be a world grand master of performance, yet is equally at home on the office run, both redefines and justifies the place of the Supercar in today’s world. What an achievement.
- Kevin Haggarthy