When Lamborghini released the 700-horsepower Aventador that sprinted to 60 mph in only 2.9 seconds, Ferrari knew it had to step up its game, or it would start losing the supercar supremacy battle very quickly. The aging 599 GTB was an awesome car, in its prime, but with its relatively sloth-like 3.7-second sprint to 60, it was no match for the mighty raging bull.
With the Aventador already on the market and selling relatively well, Ferrari took to the drawing board and came up with a machine that it planned to have the power and speed of the Lambo, but the Ferrari plushness that its customers insisted on. This new car ended up being the F12 berlinetta, a supercar unlike any that the world has ever seen and power to match its looks.
So, how exactly does the Ferrari F12berlinetta – odd name and all – stand up to the raging bull? We’ll take a deeper look into this plush supercar and see if it has the goods to fend off the bull and take home the title.
The Ferrari F12berlinetta packs a front-mounted V-12 and rear-wheel drive. Not only does the 6.3-liter powerplant make 730 hp, it does so at a scorching 8500 rpm. Torque is listed at 509 lb-ft. We can’t wait to hear the V-12 go up to its 8700-rpm.
The Ferrari F12berlinetta delivers truly extraordinary performance and driving involvement thanks to its highly evolved transaxle architecture which was developed with extremely ambitious objectives in mind. These were to reduce overall weight, lower and move the centre of gravity rearwards in the chassis, and reduce the car’s frontal area whilst contemporaneously increasing passenger and luggage space compared to the previous V12 coupé to ensure maximum comfort over lengthier journeys. To achieve these objectives, the engineers lowered the engine, dashboard and seats. Furthermore the rear of the car is now more compact, thanks to the repositioning and reduction in size of the fuel tank (permitted in part by a more efficient engine which delivers the same range as before) and to the new transaxle layout allowed by the rear multi-link suspension and F1 dual-clutch transmission with integrated electronic differential. Rather than a traditional separate boot, the F12berlinetta features a generous tail-gate incorporating the rear screen which contributes both to the compactness of the design, and the generous luggage space and its accessibility, while ensuring maximum structural rigidity. This solution also ensures that more of the car’s mass sits inside the shorter wheelbase to the benefit of handling dynamics. The end result is a car that’s lighter by 70 kg with a centre of gravity that’s 25 mm lower. It’s also shorter (-47mm), lower (-63 mm) and narrower (-20 mm) compared to the previous V12 coupé. The rear overhang has been greatly reduced (-82 mm) while the front one has been estende (+65 mm) to accommodate the cooling systems required for the powerful V12 engine. Weight distribution is ideal – 54% at the rear – and is unmatched by competitors within the segment.
The Ferrari F12berlinetta’s aerodynamics were developed hand-in-hand with its styling, using CFD (computational fluid dynamic) simulations along with more than 250 hours of testing in the Wind Tunnel. Aside from external air flows, research focused on internal ones with particolar attention given to thermal factors (including the radiators, heat exchangers and brakes). Apart from boosting the car’s fluid dynamic efficiency, this research also led to a reduction in volumes through the optimised packaging of the car’s mechanical components. The result is that it is the most overall aerodynamically efficient Ferrari ever, a fact attested to by a figure of 1.12 (double that of the 599 GTB Fiorano). Downforce has been boosted by 76 per cent (123 kg at 200 km/h) while drag has been significantly reduced (the Cd is just 0.299).
Its aerodynamic efficiency brass is mostly generated by three elements: the Aero Bridge, the Blown Spoiler, the aerodynamic underbody. The Aero Bridge is an innovative solution that uses the bonnet to create downforce for the first time. It does so by availing of an aerodynamic channel on each side. These pass below a bridge in the area between the front wheelarch and the bottom of the A-pillar and deflect the airflow into scoops in the flanks where it interacts with the wake from the wheel wells to decrease drag. The Blown Spoiler uses the air flows near the rear of the car to modify, via special intakes, the pressure field in the wheel well, boosting overall efficiency. Lastly, the car’s flat underbody has been greatly evolved, not least thanks to the fact that the front splitter which is now separate to the bumper. This generates downforce whilst simultaneously directing the air flows towards the rear extractor, improving efficiency. Aerodynamic dams and semi-cone diffusers have been placed ahead of the front wheels which, as well as generating downforce, also help cool the brakes. The rear dam has the dual role of directing the airflow away from the wheel and generating a vortex that isolates the underbody from the centrifugal forces caused by the movement of the rear wheels. The generous rear diffuser, has four fins, the middle two of which have vortex generators, and thus also contributes to the significant increase in downforce. When it comes to integrating fluid dynamics and thermal management, the central air vent on the bonnet boosts the efficiency of the cooling system and also helps lessen the impact of the air on the windscreen at high speeds, creating a cushion that deflects the natural air flow. Drag is also reduced by the Active Brake Cooling system of guide vanes on the brake air ducts which open only if brake operating temperatures are high enough.
Aerodynamics isn’t all the Ferrari was looking for though, which is noticeable as we approach the backside of the car. This collaboration between Ferrari design and Pininfarina nets us a Kammback-inspired rear end – Kamm is a famed aerodynamicist that used abruptly cut-off rear ends to help with reducing drag – that integrates with the rear spoiler.
While the interior was not quite as carefully crafted as its exterior, the F12berlinettta’s interior certainly received some attention. The overall volume of the interior was reduced to help enhance the F12berlinetta’s, but the usage of the space has been optimized. Ferrari managed to find a way to marry sporty and comfort inside the F12berlinetta’s cabin.
Unlike the overwhelming interior of the Aventador, the F12berlinetta gives you a clean look and feel that takes you into the world of racing where only the important buttons and gauges are displayed. The steering wheel is devoid of buttons that are unnecessary and the paddle shifters are in the perfect position behind the wheel to make shifting through the gears a seamless venture.
Even the air vents underwent some serious designing, as they are elegantly crafted from carbon fiber and aluminum alloy, giving the interior a little something extra that you may be missing in other supercars. The center console or center tunnel as Ferrari calls it, is not very overwhelming and has only the necessary components attached to it, like the gear selector, and hazard warning buttons.
The simplistic F12berlinetta interior continues to the door panel where everything just seems to flow with absoluter perfection. The armrest, door handle, tweeter, speaker, airbag and leather pocket all fluidly travel together along the panel, making it look as if they are all one piece. You can opt for your own addition to the door panels by adding in special touches, like aluminum borders underlining the panel’s already stellar lines.
The steering wheel looks as if it belongs in an art museum, as Ferrari managed to capture the essence of a racing steering wheel with the elegance of a luxury car. The focal point of the wheel is to give the driver perfect hand position, allowing for optimal grip, but it also features just enough control buttons to handle some of the car’s more important features. On the right side of the wheel, you have all of your technical goody controls, like the controls for the TFT infotainment screen, satellite navigation, stereo with Bluetooth streaming, and voice-activated audio controls. On the left side, you get all of you get-up-and-go controls, as it handles the Vehicle Dynamic Assistance functions, like: car status, potential performance, changing between RACE, CT-off and ESC-off modes, and other features.
Around the back end you also get a unique “T” shape that starts at the center of the lower, rear fascia and wraps around the dual circular LED taillights. Flanking the base of the “T” is a pair of dual exhaust exits, giving the F12berlinetta a total of four exhaust escapes.
Just imagining the thought process and ingenuity that went into designing the F12berlinetta to be both beautiful and functional is mind boggling. As per usual, Ferrari out shined Lamborghini in body form, fit, and function, but there is more to a supercar than just its looks, so let’s continue onto the interior.
In the pictures, the front end of the F12berlinetta looks like a character from a Pixar movie. Otherwise, it’s a sharp design, even if it fails to deliver the sex appeal of ancestors like the 250 GT and Daytona. Deep body-side creases—almost gouges, really—sweep upward as they travel toward the back of the car. As for the interior, it’s typical Ferrari minimalism, with a hint of retro chic in the curvature of the dash and vents. Also, there’s a cup holder. The F12 is strictly a two-seat car; if you want a 2+2 tourer, Ferrari would like to sell you an FF.
Price and Availability
Ferrari isn’t yet talking about pricing or availability. The 599 started at $317,000, while hotter variants of that car ran up to $450,000. Figure on a starting price in the mid-$300Ks for the F12berlinetta. As for availability, there probably isn’t any. Deposits already have been collected for many not-yet-built cars, and Ferrari dealers are notoriously uninterested in selling new cars to people who aren’t already in the Scuderia’s famiglia.