by Karl Furlong
Like the normal 812 Competizione, the Ferrari Competizione A is a bittersweet arrival for the Italian marque. Because while the car is simply astounding, this is likely the last time we'll see a Ferrari V12 without turbocharging or hybrid assistance of some kind. With a rev limit of 9,500 rpm and 819 horsepower, the Ferrari 812 Competizione A's roofless design gives the driver and passenger full access to that wailing V12's soundtrack. The closest thing Lamborghini has to this is the mid-engined Aventador Ultimae Roadster, whereas the Aston Martin DBS Volante is less powerful, slower, and much less expensive. The 812 Competizione A feels as though it has no direct rivals. From its brilliant dynamics to its ravishing design, it's an unbridled supercar that seems to exist purely to entertain its driver.
When the Ferrari 812 GTS arrived, it marked the first production-series front-engined V12-powered Spider from the brand in over half a century. The 812 Competizione A (A for Aperta or "open" in reference to the top) takes this roofless recipe, subtracts some weight, and adds even more power. As in the normal Competizione, the 6.5-liter V12 makes 819 hp here. Ferrari has not, however, released technical specifications specific to the Competizione A.
The remaining models from the original 599-unit production run carry over into 2023 unchanged.
A drop-top version of the 812 Competizione, the Ferrari 812 Competizione A boasts a targa-type roof, distinctive flying buttresses, and a bridge between these buttresses to deflect airflow. A flap in the windscreen header rail deflects air so that the driver and passenger aren't interrupted by anything other than the roar of the 819-hp V12. Only 599 examples of the Competizione A will be produced.
Only one trim is available of the 812 Competizione A but nobody would describe it as entry-level. Besides the magnificent powertrain, the car comes with dual-zone climate control, the Targa roof, push-button start, regular cruise control, and a rearview camera. Inside and outside, almost everything is customizable in terms of color, be it the primary paint, brake calipers, wheels, seats, dashboard, and even carpets.
Both the 812 Competizione and 812 Competizione Aperta are truly beautiful specimens. The elongated hood and tall tail are naturally formed by the placement of the large engine in front, but the detailing is just as beautiful from the sleek LED headlights to the large, square-shaped exhausts and individual taillights. Without a fixed roof, the Competizione A looks perhaps even better. The wraparound windscreen flows neatly into the side windows when they're raised, creating a sporty cocoon for the occupants. The rear flying buttresses are lower than on the Competizione, and the carbon fiber roll bars partly jut out when the Targa top is stowed. The top itself is also fashioned from carbon fiber.
Along the sides are 20-inch wheels, and carbon fiber wheels are available too. The 812 comes with a series of aerodynamic features to make it as slippery as possible, including a transverse groove in the hood that contains carbon fiber blades. There is also a carbon fiber splitter in front.
Unusually, Ferrari has yet to publish the Competizione A's specifications. It should mirror the regular Competizione, though, although the removable roof will likely mean a variance in height and weight. The standard, fixed-roof Competizione measures 77.6 inches in width, 50.2 inches in height, 184.9 inches in length, and has a 107.1-inch wheelbase.
It has a dry weight of 3,278 pounds, which the Competizione A should get close to since its removable roof is made from lightweight carbon fiber.
As great as all the parts of the 812 Competizione A are, the 6.5-liter V12 is the star of the show. This naturally-aspirated lump produces 819 hp at 9,250 rpm and 510 lb-ft of torque at 7,000 rpm. The red line? That only arrives at 9,500 rpm. Ferrari made several changes to the V12 to make these numbers possible, including the use of a 3% lighter crankshaft and a diamond-like carbon coating for the piston pins.
It all adds up to remarkable acceleration, specifically for a rear-wheel-drive car. Although Ferrari has yet to publish acceleration numbers for the drop-top specifically, it should match or be extremely close to its fixed-roof sibling. That car can do 0-62 mph in 2.85 seconds, 0-124 mph in 7.5 seconds, and reach a top speed of over 211 mph. The throttle pedal in this car needs to be treated with caution, such is the V12's responsiveness. Overtaking slower traffic is a breeze, and town driving is frustrating only because the car seems to demand abuse whenever you drive it.
The V12 matched by a slick seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that rifles through the gears with alacrity. Using the paddle shifters only adds to the joy of piloting the 812, and with the roof down, you have full access to the mechanical symphony of that V12.
The 812 Competizione A drives much like the regular Competizione. In short, this means it's one of the most grin-inducing cars to drive in the world. The steering, throttle, and transmission all operate with immediacy and poise, as impressive in isolation as they are in harmony with each other.
The power of the engine and its appetite for revs will grab your attention first. Unlike in many turbocharged cars, there is no letting up until the 812 hits its red line. And, despite over 800 hp, the car is not the overpowered mess it could have been. Yes, it's not the easiest car in the world to immediately get comfortable with, but Ferrari has found the key to deploying all this power to the rear wheels in a progressive fashion. As long as you don't switch the traction control off completely, the electronic differential, Side Slip Control, and incredibly accurate steering will have your back if you lose concentration for a second or two as you build confidence with the car. Independent four-wheel steering improves agility, helping to manage the car's mass. On the track and with those Michelins warmed up, you enter a kind of driving nirvana where every input - be it throttle, brakes, or steering - is rewarded with precisely the adjustment or reaction you wished for.
Race mode will allow you to drive the car at a fast pace but prevents you from pushing too hard. Another mode - CT Off - deactivates the traction control and lets you tap more readily into the car's natural tendency to oversteer. The rear end is looser and unshackled, but you'll need a skilled hand and a controlled environment to enjoy it.
Overall, it's a wonderful, challenging, and exciting car to drive.
The EPA only lists gas mileage estimates for the regular 812 Competizione, but it's safe to assume that these won't be far off the convertible's numbers. Owners should expect to see 12/16/14 mpg city/highway/combined.
A 24.3-gallon gas tank works out to a range of about 340 miles.
Strictly a two-seater sports car, the Competizione A has a racy cabin that is unmistakably Ferrari. The sports seats hold you firmly in place which is just as well in a car this fast, and they can be finished in either leather or Alcantara. For maximum headroom, simply leave the roof off. But even with the roof up, headroom is fine for the average adult, as are leg and shoulder room.
Ferrari has not published the trunk specs for the 812 Competizione A, but we know that the regular model with the fixed roof can accommodate around three carry-ons. The Competizione A's cargo capacity is slightly restricted by the need to accommodate the roof, though. Still, it is far more practical than a mid-engined Ferrari.
In the cabin, there is a shallow center storage space, some place behind the seats for odds and ends, and a single cupholder.
Most of the features in the 812's cabin are aimed at the driving experience. There are oversized paddle shifters mounted to the steering wheel, a red start/stop button, and the Manettino switch in the same color. Convenience items include power mirrors/windows and dual-zone automatic climate control. Ferrari smartly equipped a suspension lifter to avoid scraping the low body on steeper driveways or speed bumps, and a rearview camera helps with parking. Advanced driver aids are missing, so don't expect lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and the like.
Two digital displays on either side of the analog tachometer do the job of the central touchscreen found in most other cars. A slim digital display for the passenger makes them feel part of the action. It's a sporty solution, and most of the information you need is displayed clearly, but Ferrari didn't invest too heavily in infotainment. Features aren't plentiful in this area either but Apple CarPlay, a USB port, and Bluetooth are included. Android Auto is unfortunately not available. The normal 812 has a 12-speaker sound system so this Aperta model should have a similar audio system.
No recalls had been published for the 812 Competizione at the time of writing.
The car is covered by Ferrari's standard three-year warranty and seven years of complimentary scheduled maintenance; both are unlimited by miles covered. Optionally, the warranty period can be extended to seven years.
We would hate to see the destruction of an 812 Competizione A in a crash test, and fortunately, this will likely never happen. The car is simply too rare and expensive to be sent for crash-testing, so there is no official safety review of the Ferrari 812 Competizione A. Still, we'd be surprised if Ferrari built anything less than a safe car.
It comes with front and side airbags, a rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring, and one of the most advanced traction and stability control systems available. Advanced driver aids like blind-spot monitoring aren't available.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
With the option to remove the roof and close to no impact on its performance or dynamics, the Ferrari 812 Competizione Aperta is a thrilling machine. It is hard not to resort to superlatives when trying to describe the charisma and power of that 6.5-liter V12, a powertrain that simply won't be around forever. This car is not only about its engine, though. It looks sensational and handles with precision, but there is enough depth to its character to challenge you. We love the racy interior, too, even if it lacks access to the latest infotainment technology and the best safety features on the market. These facts are unlikely to bother those with the wherewithal to afford the 812, though. It is a remarkable car.
When it was revealed, a €578,000 price tag accompanied the Ferrari 812 Competizione A. No exact US dollar amount was provided, but the euro figure translates to a cost well over $600,000 based on rates at the time of writing.
You should buy absolutely any example of the 812 Competizione A that you can get your hands on. Only one trim is available but opportunities to own this rare beauty will be few and far between. If we were buying a new Ferrari 812 Competizione A, we'd have ours in one of the yellow paint options which contrasts well with the dark carbon fiber bits. Buyers can also choose from several seat designs, including Daytona seats, and a wide range of colors for the Alcantara and leather trim.
These two cars are similar in that both have a 6.5-liter naturally-aspirated V12 engine and can be driven with nothing but the wind above your head. But whereas the Ultimae's engine sits in the middle of its body, the 812's is in the front. We were fortunate to drive the Ultimae Roadster in Bologna and were blown away by its screaming V12 and surprising agility, but less enamored by its dated single-clutch automated manual transmission. The Ferrari has even more power, revs higher, and its dual-clutch transmission is far superior. The Prancing Horse also has a more accommodating interior. Both cars are the stuff of legends, but it's the Ferrari that we'd most like to park in the garage.
The 812 GTS is essentially a toned-down version of the Competizione A, if you can call a car with 789 hp toned down in any way. The Competizione revs higher, makes more power, and is quicker. Its seven-speed dual-clutch transmission has also been tuned for faster shifts, and the chassis tweaked for razor-sharp responses on the track. The use of lightweight materials is another advantage in favor of the Competizione, but is all of that worth around $150,000 more? It's a decision we'd love to be burdened with. If you never drove the Competizione, you'd find the GTS difficult to improve upon. But at this level, the margins are small: a few pounds, a little more horsepower, and split seconds make all the difference. We'd have the more focused Competizione Aperta.
The most popular competitors of 2023 Ferrari 812 Competizione A: