On the short, tight Streets of Willow circuit, there’s really only one place to detonate the 12 cylinders of fury residing under the Ferrari 812 Superfast’s sculpted hood—down the front straight. Light the fuse out of the last turn and unleash the 812’s prodigious power, and you’ll feel it wiggle out back with each shift. Whoa, big fella.
Even better, the engine is a performer with range, one unaccompanied by super- or turbocharged backup singers or a hybrid rhythm section. Thankfully, its sweet, sweet 789-hp siren song didn’t entice us to sail off the asphalt seas of Streets onto the rocky terrain beyond. Instead, it captivated us with “a special experience that treats nearly all your senses,” features editor Rory Jurnecka said.
We know what you’re thinking: For about $475,000 as equipped, it better beat your senses senseless. It does. The Superfast’s primary weapon of sensual wonderment is its dazzling 6.5-liter naturally aspirated V-12. “The best engine here and likely the best engine in the world,” contributor Marc Noordeloos said. “It has excellent torque but loves to rev—to 8,900 rpm!”
Working the gears up to the 12-banger’s screaming redline is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, augmented by Ferrari’s signature column-mounted paddle shifters. It routes all that power to massive rear wheels that can turn slightly thanks to Ferrari’s rear steering system, which further aids the 812’s cornering and stability chops.
How fast does all this make the Superfast? Ferrari quotes a 0-100-kph time of 2.9 seconds onto a top speed of 211 mph. Eclipsing the 3.0-second mark to 60 is seriously quick, but that’s only a part of the story when it comes to the 812. Although it’s a grand tourer in approach, with a front-engine configuration and largish overall dimensions, don’t get it twisted—this Ferrari is eminently capable on a circuit as well.
“It’s so controllable at all angles on track,” pro racer and contributor Andy Pilgrim noted of the 812 after ripping off some 10/10ths scorchers of the 13-turn Streets layout. Art St. Antoine has had more time in the 812 than all of us thanks to his early laps of the car in Italy at Ferrari’s HQ. “I remember being blown away by the 812 when I drove it at Fiorano,” he said. “But—good gawd—it’s even better than that memory.” Said exec editor Mac Morrison, when he stopped laughing: “The sound it makes is the only thing arguably more ridiculous than the fact you can push a rear-drive Ferrari with this much power as hard as you can push this one, and it just makes you look like a superstar.”
The rest of us were forming our first bonds with Ferrari’s most powerful production car ever, and they’re memories we’ll cherish. We praised its sprightly steering dialed in through Ferrari’s first use of an electric power steering system. Rather than being artificially heavy or fake in overall feel, a few editors actually thought the steering was maybe a hair too light while running hard on the track. Along the road route, our drivers were duly impressed by the 812’s manners. It exhibits a firm ride even in the car’s most relaxed settings, but not a jarring one. When inclement weather arrived during our final day of testing, the 812’s Wet mode came in very handy for Noordeloos, who said “it slowed things down” during his stints through rain and snow. Its massive 15.7-inch front brakes never left us hanging at the track or grabbed too hard when things got sloppy.
Inside, you’re greeted by a small pasture full of stitched leather, Alcantara, and carbon-fiber accents. There were a couple of callouts about the optional hard-shell, race-inspired sport seats being a bit uncomfortable. If we specced one to drive primarily on the street, we’d go with the standard thrones. In terms of its styling, “elegant,” “long,” and “lithe” are among the superlatives we’d use to describe the 812’s exterior. Spoiler alert: We’ve seen the “it looks like a Corvette” memes. Resemblance? Yes. Rip-off? Hardly.
Of course you were going to pick this car, you say. What’s so hard about that? We’re not going to lie; sometimes an All-Star choice is a no-brainer. This is one of those times. Right, Jethro Bovingdon?
“The engine is mind-blowing, the gearbox is outrageous, and the ability to oversteer in every gear is endlessly endearing,” our contributor said. “It has supercar sharpness but doesn’t take itself too seriously and is happy to cut loose. But for me the 812 Superfast should be enjoyed in Race mode at a minimum, devil on your shoulder cackling madly and V-12 vaporizing Pirellis at every turn. What an experience.”
2018 Ferrari 812 Superfast Specifications
|PRICE||$343,712/$474,486 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||6.5L DOHC 48-valve V-12; 789 hp @ 8,500 rpm, 530 lb-ft @ 7,000 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|LAYOUT||2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe|
|EPA MILEAGE||12/16 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||183.3 x 77.6 x 50.2 in|
|WEIGHT||3,600 lb (est)|
|0–60 MPH||2.8 sec|
|TOP SPEED||211 mph|