After weeks of whispers, teasing, and leaked images, Ferrari has finally unwrapped its latest 12-cylinder gran turismo. The new 2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta effectively replaces the aging 599 GTB Fiorano, and will make its first public debut at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show.
While the F12 Berlinetta's general profile roughly resembles that of its predecessor, there's not a single bit of sheetmetal shared between the two cars. Styled by longtime design partner Pininfarina, the F12 Berlinetta is an interesting amalgamation of strong, flowing surfaces and existing design cues.
Up front, the F12 Berlinetta's long headlamps bear a resemblance to those of the 458 Italia, while a large egg crate grille -- much like that used on the four-wheel-drive FF -- dominates the lower half of the fascia. The F12's front fenders quickly taper to a narrow point, allowing the hood surfaces to wrap down and around the side of the car, terminating in a large V-shaped swage that curves upward into the rear fenders.
While the F12's rear quarters are rather conservative, they're not without some dramatic flair. The lower edges of the rear valence curve downward, forming a surface that intersects the rear diffuser and neatly wraps beneath the bumper.
The F12's look will undoubtedly inspire heated debate among Ferrari aficionados and purists, but the automaker says the form is actually functional. Active shutters on the brake cooling ducts help reduce drag, while the so-called "Aero Bridge" scoops, located between the front-wheel arches and the cowl, channel air from the front of the car to its sides. Ferrari says the F12 Berlinetta boasts a 76-percent increase in downforce, along with a surprisingly slippery drag coefficient of 0.299.
If you think the F12 Berlinetta appears a little smaller than the outgoing 599, your eyes aren't deceiving you. Preliminary specifications indicate the F12 is about 2 inches shorter, 7/10 of an inch narrower, and 2.5 inches lower than its predecessor. The F12's body is also lighter than the 599's, thanks in part to a new aluminum-intensive spaceframe. An estimated curb weight of 3363 pounds means the F12 is not only 360 pounds lighter than the 599 GTB, but it's also about 176 pounds lighter than the hard-core, performance-tuned 599 GTO. As was the case on the 599, the use of a transaxle -- a seven-speed dual-clutch unit, in this instance -- allows the F12 to shift 54 percent of its curb weight to its tail end.
Although Ferrari has previously dabbled with hybrid systems and forced induction, the F12 Berlinetta sticks to a time-tested tradition: a big, normally aspirated 12-cylinder engine.
The new F12 uses the same basic 6.3-liter V-12 as the FF wagon, but the engine appears to be much more powerful in F12 guise. According to Ferrari, it provides the FF with an incredible 730 horsepower at 8000 rpm, along with 508 lb-ft of torque at 6000 rpm. Early claims of the F12 Berlinetta becoming the most powerful (road-legal) Ferrari appear to be accurate. Not only does this mean the F12 Berlinetta eclipses the 599 GTB (600 hp/448 lb-ft) and the 599 GTO (660 hp/494 lb-ft), it also surpasses the original 599xx racer (720 hp/506 lb-ft) and comes close to the track-focused 599xx Evoluzione (750 hp/516 lb-ft).
Coupled with the lightning-quick seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, Ferrari claims the 6.3-liter V-12 is capable of launching the F12 Berlinetta from 0-62 mph in a scant 3.1 seconds, and suggests a top speed just over the 211-mph mark. Ferrari is equally proud of two other performance metrics: When packaged with an optional start/stop system, the F12 can deliver a 30-percent increase in fuel economy, along with a 16-percent decrease in carbon dioxide emissions.
As is expected of such a machine, the F12 Berlinetta is equipped with Ferrari's full suite of performance-enhancing features, including E-Diff, ESP Premium, F1-Trac, and high-performance ABS algorithms. Carbon ceramic brakes are standard, as are Ferrari's revised adaptive magnetorheological dampers.
Still Sumptuous Within
The F12 Berlinetta may be quick, but as Ferrari's premiere gran turismo, it can't skimp on interior amenities. Subsequently, we're not surprised to learn the cabin is covered in liberal amounts of Frau leather and carbon-fiber trim. Photos show an attractive saddle-hued interior, but as always, interior schemes are left to the customer's discretion (and budget).
The F12's dashboard largely resembles that of the FF, but there is one significant difference: It no longer packs a large, clunky-looking navigation unit into the center stack. Instead, the F12 displays all infotainment-related screens through the digital Human Machine Interface gauge cluster, controlled by a small bank of switches located to the right of the steering column.
The Fastest Ferrari -- For Now
Ferrari holds the F12 Berlinetta is the fastest, most powerful road car it's ever built. That's certainly true at this point in time, but it may not be for long. We hear the automaker is already preparing an 800-hp (or higher) variant of this engine for use in a successor to the fabled Enzo supercar, perhaps in time to debut by the end of this year. If so, the F12 may lose that crown, but it will remain one of the most powerful and desirable front-engine sports cars available on this planet.
2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
On Sale: Late 2012
Engine: 6.3-liter V-12
Power: 730 hp @
Torque: 508 @ 6000 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Length x Width x Height: 181.8 in x 76.5 in x 50.1 in
Curb Weight: 3363 lbs
0-62 mph: 3.1 seconds
Top speed: >211 mph (est)