by Michael Butler
Half a century - that's how long there hasn't been a series production front-engined V12 Ferrari Spider; sure there have been others such as the F12 TRS and F60 America, but you're more likely to solve the Middle Eastern conflict than find one of those for sale - they were limited-run models that owners selected before the world even saw the show cars. But in the modern world, the high-end performance car market demands every possible configuration and power level under the sun!
Enter the 812 GTS, the convertible version of the insane 812 Superfast, which bowled us over when it was first launched. What makes the 812 GTS so unique is the fact that it's powered by a 6.5-liter V12 that produces nearly 800 horsepower, and will do over 200 mph with the top down. The 812 GTS takes on more of a GT attitude rather than an all-out supercar attack and is surprisingly docile when it needs to be. The infotainment system still isn't the best, and the tech and safety feature lists are short, but you won't care a bit once you're behind the wheel.
It's been over 50 years since the last production-series front-engined V12-powered Spider was produced - the 365 GTS/4 - so the return of this car type is big news for Ferrari and crucial to meeting the growing demands of the supercar-buying fraternity. The 812 GTS is based on the 812 Superfast, and not only is it the most powerful Spider on the market but, thanks to its retractable hardtop and feasible trunk space, it's pretty practical too.
The 812 GTS is clearly based on the 812 Superfast; both cars share a long and elegant hood, which houses a naturally aspirated V12 engine. The rear of both cars come to an abrupt and dramatic end, and the 812 GTS's rear-end reminds us of the 1968 365 GTB/4. The exterior gets a few model-specific features such as multi-spoke 20-inch forged wheels available in diamond-finish, liquid silver, and Grigio Scuro.
'Staunch' would be the best word to describe the Ferrari 812 GTS; it's a gorgeously mean-looking thing that makes its presence known on the road. It's quite a lengthy car at 184.8 inches and is 77.6 inches wide. The 812 GTS sits 50.3 inches off the ground and rolls on a 107.1-inch wheelbase. Dry weight comes in at 3,627 pounds.
The 812 GTS shares its massively powerful 6.5-liter V12 engine with the 812 Superfast, and, thanks to some trick tuning, produces a crazy 789 hp at 8900 rpm, and 530 lb-ft of torque at 7,000 rpm. Almost 80% of the torque is available from 3,500 rpm, and this engine uses the highest pressure fuel injection system ever fitted to a gas-powered car at 5076.3 psi. This makes the 812 GTS the most powerful car in its class, easily beating competitors such as the 710-hp McLaren 720S Spider and the 715-hp Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which features short gear ratios and adaptive shift timing for relaxed or razor-sharp shifting and instantaneous throttle response. The end result is a 0-62 mph time of under three seconds and a top speed above 210 mph.
With the engine mounted in the front, you'd think that the 812 GTS will suffer in the handling department, but as it turns out, the engine is actually mounted behind the front axle, which technically makes it a front mid-engine car, shifting the weight distribution to the rear of the car in a 47/53 split front to rear. What that means is that the 812 GTS pivots around the driver beautifully and makes it seem like a much smaller car, and as far as 800 horsepower supercars go, it's surprisingly forgiving and easy to drive fast as long as you keep the traction control on.
The Ferrari 412 T2, one of the last V12 powered F1 cars ever produced, made a measly 600 hp, and gulped a ton of race fuel every 25 laps or so, so if you told those engineers that they'd have the opportunity to buy a 789-hp road-legal V12 Ferrari a few decades later they would surely have laughed at the thought. Not only because it produces almost 200 hp more than their F1 car, but because it wouldn't make economic sense to fuel such a car. Well, wind the clock forward, and you'll find that it rings true; the 812 GTS will manage 12/16/13 mpg city/highway/combined. At least Ferrari has fitted the 812 GTS with a decently sized fuel tank with a 20.2-gallon capacity, giving the 812 GTS a maximum range of 262.6 miles.
The Ferrari 812 GTS is a two-seater grand-tourer convertible. The GT moniker would make you believe that there's lots of space inside the cabin of this Italian beast, and you'd be correct - to a certain extent. There's good shoulder room between passenger and driver, which creates a good sense of space, and legroom is adequate for six-foot-tall adults. Getting in and out of the 812 GTS is easier than on some of Ferrari's more sport-focused cars such as the 488, and once inside, the GT-styled seats offer excellent support and comfort.
The front-engine layout of the 812 GTS affords it a modicum of practicality in terms of trunk and cargo space despite the engine sitting behind the front axle: with the foldable hardtop in the upright position, the Ferrari 812 GTS will offer a respectable 8.8 cubic feet of trunk space, which bests the McLaren 720S Spider's 7.3 cubic foot frunk, and manages to beat the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante's seven cubic feet. The 812 GTS will fit two folded up electric scooters for cruising around the pit area at the Monaco Grand Prix. Small-item storage is almost non-existent; there are small door pockets and a center console storage nook large enough for a phone or set of keys.
Most people tend to overlook the basic features list on most Ferraris, preferring to focus on the technical details such as engine construction, downforce stats, suspension setups, and brake system performance, but the 812 GTS does offer a few creature comforts as well. New owners can expect to see LED headlights, powered and heated wing mirrors, adaptive magnetic suspension and Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes tucked behind 20-inch forged wheels. On the inside, the 812 GTS offers cruise control, automatic climate control and heated leather seats. Ferrari has done its best to keep the 812 GTS on the road-despite the best efforts of multi-millionaire soccer players and actors, with their Ferrari Peak Performance, Virtual Short Wheelbase 2.0, and Side Slip-angle Control systems, which are all designed to warn the driver when they are reaching the limit of the car, and then controlling what happens after that limit has been breached.
The 812 GTS might be a more laid back Ferrari (despite having close to 800 hp on tap) and features a more mature interior, but it shares its driver-focused infotainment system with the rest of the Ferrari supercar range. What this means is that the infotainment display gets split between the dominant tachometer behind the steering wheel, basically eliminating the passenger's ability to interact with said system. The infotainment system on the 812 GTS features updated software, improved usability, and contemporary tech such as Bluetooth streaming, navigation, and Apple CarPlay integration. The optional passenger infotainment screen is mounted in the dashboard in front of the passenger and displays speed, gear and navigation information. The setup isn't the easiest to use but is miles better than systems of old.
Although the 812 Superfast was recalled for a malfunctioning fuel vapor separator that could crack, allowing fumes to leak out and potentially causing a fire risk, the problem seems to have been solved in the 812 GTS. Ferrari covers the 812 GTS with a basic three-year/unlimited mile warranty, which includes corrosion and drivetrain cover, and an impressive seven-year maintenance plan.
Neither the NHTSA or IIHS were willing to destroy an 812 GTS for the sake of judging its safety levels, and have left the public to place their trust fully in Ferrari's hands when it comes to keeping them alive in case of a serious crash. Ferrari does so by including an advanced traction control system with slip angle control, massive Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, front and rear crumple zones, and a total of six airbags.
Ferrari has created a true oddball of a supercar; the 812 GTS is the first series-production front-engined V12-powered Spider that the marque has produced in half a century, and instead of creating a true GT cruiser, they've gone balls to the wall - the end result being a close-on 800-hp monster that will outpace nearly everything on the road, even with its top down. The 812 GTS benefits from all of the tech goodies that make cars like the F8 Tributo and 488 Pista such great cars; you get standard Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, adaptive suspension, performance-biased aero and a V12 engine that will go down in the history books as one of the very best ever created. The 812 GTS is surprisingly easy to live with, and if you're single, it should prove to be adequate for daily city driving missions. Price plays no role here; if you're serious about buying one, you'll struggle to find a more enthralling experience elsewhere.
Expect to pay around $370,000 for a new Ferrari 812 GTS in bone stock form, but we've seen that price climb to well over $450,000 when fitted with optional extras such as the passenger infotainment system, extensive carbon-fiber coverage, racing bucket seats, exclusive exterior paint jobs, and uprated wheels. That price places the 812 GTS above the equally impressive McLaren 720S Spider, which goes for around $315,000, and the British wild child that is the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante, which retails in the low $300,000 range.
6.5-liter V12 Gas
The 812 GTS is a standalone model and is available in only one trim, but Ferrari gives new owners the option of fully customizing their new 812 with a wide range of exterior and interior features. If handed a blank check, we would have our 812 GTS in Rosso 70 Anni red, and we'd stick a set of 20-inch forged matte black racing wheels to the hubs. The optional carbon-fiber exterior appearance package is a must and gives the 812 GTS even more appeal. The titanium exhaust system is great if you like hooning, and sounds miles better than the standard system. On the inside, we'd stick with the standard seats, which are more comfortable in the long run than the optional Daytona carbon racing seats. Other interior touches we'd go for are a yellow rev counter, the passenger infotainment system, and the carbon-fiber interior upgrade.
Whoever worried that the age of the V12 would come to an end a decade ago must be feeling pretty stupid right now (although the end is probably nigh). The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante is the perfect example of wild excess and indulgence at the peak of free-market capitalism. The Brit is powered by an insane 5.2-liter twin-turbocharged V12 engine that produces 715 hp, 74 hp less than the 812 GTS, but it makes up for that with mountains of torque - 663 lb-ft to be exact, all available from only 1,800 rpm. All that power doesn't translate into a faster car, however; the Aston will manage a 62 mph sprint in 3.6 seconds, 0.7 seconds slower than the Ferrari. It will match its 211 mph top speed, though. The interior of the Aston feels more grand tourer and is definitely a more laid-back space to sit in, but the biggest difference has to be the fact that it offers seating for four, as long as those in the back are below-knee amputees. The DBS is a treat to drive, and while it doesn't feel as composed on the limit, it will be an easier car to use in the real world. Get the Aston if you need to carry more than one passenger; for everything else, there's the 812 GTS.
Whereas the 812 GTS pretends to be a GT cruiser of sorts, the McLaren 720S Spider is basically a supercar with a removable top. From the outside, the Ferrari is arguably the better-looking car, but there is a certain appeal to the 720S's almost playful design that will appeal to young Silicon Valley millionaires. The engines on these two cars couldn't be more different; the McLaren is powered by a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 that sends 710 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via a seven-speed DCT transmission. What this means is a 0 to 62 mph sprint time of 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 212 mph. The 720S is easy to drive fast and feels more focussed around the track. The interior of the 720S Spider feels basic when compared to the Ferrari, but offers better tech and the infotainment system is miles ahead. Practical storage space isn't as good as the Ferrari, but there are a number of extra storage nooks, which makes storing small items easier. We see the McLaren being bought by a younger market, while the Ferrari will be scooped up by distinguished gentlemen.