by Roger Biermann
Amidst fears that Ferrari would be dropping the naturally aspirated V12 from the F12berlinetta, it comes as a welcome surprise that the Ferrari 812 Superfast retains natural aspiration and 12 cylinders, along with its front engine, rear-wheel driven drivetrain layout. But the 812 Superfast now benefits from innovative technology that debuted on the F12 TDF, including Ferrari’s Virtual Short Wheelbase, and, for the first time ever on a Ferrari, electronic power assisted steering. The 812 revives the Superfast nomenclature from the old America series of cars, and its range topping 500 Superfast, and is the latest in a line of GT cars from the Italian brand.
Whilst this isn’t a full 4-seater GT like the GTC4Lusso, it’s still a GT and boasts the interior of one. In a strange turn against industry norms, there’s no large screen front and center on the dash; instead infotainment is handled from a customizable screen on the driver display. Optional is a miniaturized, horizontal passenger display that also displays performance information to include the passenger in the driving experience.
The lavish, leather-clad bucket seats may seem more supercar than big grand tourer, as does the flat bottomed steering wheel that includes everything from a start button to the drive-mode manettino switch, and of course gorgeously manufactured shift paddles, column mounted as is the Ferrari way. With the exception of a few plastics and pieces of switchgear, material quality is immaculate, and the leathers are truly lush and cross-country comfortable. There’s even a rear parcel shelf for a little more practicality.
The 812 Superfast’s extravagant bodywork is more than just beautiful, it’s functional too. Every bit serves a purpose, primarily for aerodynamic efficiency to aid handling. But the underbody features aero-work too, flaps and vortex generators that suck the 812 to the floor to give it insane amounts of grip – as if the F12 TDF-sourced 275-section tires weren’t grippy enough. But the pièce de résistance is the Virtual Short Wheelbase, a rear-wheel steering system to make the 812 feel smaller on the road and more direct than any predecessor. It works in tandem with a new EPAS system, that’s wired into the Side Slip Control 5.0 and adjusts steering assistance to communicate when the chassis is on the limit of under- or oversteer.
Despite the Virtual Short Wheelbase, the 812 Superfast is a big car. But thankfully, a rough road setting slackens the dampers to make the ride almost luxurious, if not quite Bentley Continental GT-ish.
The Superfast’s 812 denomination indicates the massive output of 800 European horsepower – that’s 789 American ponies. The 12 represents the number of cylinders used to share the 6.5-liter displacement – the latter number being the one responsible for peak torque of 529 lb-ft. There is after all, no replacement for displacement. Though all wheels are steered, only the rear wheels are driven, through Ferrari’s 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. 0-60mph arrives in just 2.8 seconds, 0-124mph takes 7.9, and top speed – well that’s a pretty 211mph. Of course, it’s all soundtracked by a howling V12 scream.
Technological trickery is one thing, but the 812 Superfast backs it up with interior luxuries too. In addition to the optional passenger display, the 812 also features Apple CarPlay, and can be specified with a suspension lifter, adaptive headlights, front and rear parking cameras, Daytona or carbon fiber racing seats, electric seats, and the ability to option carbon fiber to just about every spare surface, outside, and inside, along with the Ferrari custom golf club bags and suitcases. As with most sports cars, the 812 Superfast hasn’t been crash tested by local authorities, but a fire extinguisher is optional equipment.
The Ferrari 812 Superfast blends blistering pace with ultimate control. But it also blends superb driving dynamics with comfort and genuine grand touring nature. This may be a GT by name, drivetrain layout, and by Ferrari’s own classification, but it walks a fine line between GT and bona fide supercar.