The Ferrari 365GTB4 Daytona is one of the most iconic cars of all time. The classic front engine layout was a Ferrari mainstay, but at the time the mid-engined supercar was becoming the way to go. With a neat touch of nostalgia, mixed with advanced 21st technology, Ferrari has announced the F12 Berlinetta, a replacement for the outgoing and unloved 599.
So is the F12 Berlinetta the new Daytona? Yes, and no; this is in fact Ferraris most powerful model of all time, and takes the front engine supercar theme to a new level. Clothed in an admittedly beautiful Pininfarina – of course – body, this is one of Maranello’s better efforts of late, and sold well when introduced at the 2012 Geneva Show.
That the supercar market has gone through many changes lately is without doubt, and the influx of Koenigsegg, Pagani, McLaren and other pretenders to the crown, plus the resurgence of Lamborghini under new owners the VW Group, Ferrari has had to up its game. This is how it decided to do so.
The Most Powerful Ferrari Ever
With 730bhp from a stunning 6.3 litre V12 engine the F12 Berlinetta packs in more horses than any Ferrari before it. This is not quite Bugatti territory, but that’s not the point of this car. The F12 is promoted as a ‘Grand Tourer’, something that the Veyron cannot claim to be. Nor, for that matter, can the McLaren MP4-12c, or any of the main competitors to this new Ferrari.
There is something of a problem with these claims, though: most people would like to see more than two seats in a Grand Tourer. That is unlikely to deter the buyers, we must admit. The appeal of the F12 lies in its superb technology, glorious looks and quite stunning performance.
So how does the F12 Berlinetta compare to the rivals? Performance wise, this is a very capable car indeed, and one that deserves closer inspection.
Ferrari F12 Berlinetta Performance Figures
The benchmark performance supercar – the Bugatti Veyron – goes faster, and is quicker, than the F12, but you could buy four of the new Ferrari’s for the price of one Veyron. The truth is that a top speed of 211mph (340km/h) is beyond use in all but the most extreme circumstances, and is therefore perfectly adequate. Acceleration from a standstill to 62mph (100km/h) in 3.1 seconds is up there with the very best, and 124mph (200km/h) in 8.5 seconds is pretty spectacular in any company.
Recent developments in the world of supercars have seen greater emphasis on fuel economy and emissions efficiency. For me the idea of a ‘green’ supercar is a paradox, and there can be little that is truly green about a 6.3 litre V12 engine. Fuel consumption of 18mpg and CO2 emissions of 350g/km are, nevertheless, quite impressive for such a powerful machine.
The clever stuff continues with stability and traction control – both very much the norm these days – and the aluminium chassis allows for low weight and an excellent 46/54% weight distribution, a great achievement in such a large, front engined car. Those figures, and the expected rigidity of construction, point to impressive handling, although actual reviews are hard to come by.
The Future of Ferrari
Stories announcing the death of the supercar began surfacing some days ago with the emphasis on limited oil supplies. Things could not be further from the truth. The F12 Berlinetta joins a wide range of superb 21st model supercars – the Pagani Zonda and Lamborghini Aventador to name but two – that are changing the face of fast, luxury motoring.
These days it is all about aerodynamic efficiency and colossal power, but rather than simply competing to see who can produce the most powerful engine, manufactures are finding ways to transmit that power to the road.
The F12 Berlinetta produces a vast amount of downforce at speed – in fact, claims are for more than 75% better than on the 599 – and this enables Ferrari to make the most of the stunning capabilities of the engine. It’s about usability and performance, rather than simple numbers. More and more, how the car performs is the benchmark, and the old 1980’s race to produce the wildest, most outlandish yet generally terrible to drive supercars has been firmly put to bed.
So is the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta a hit? It would seem so and, with the innovative FF and the beautiful 458 is at the forefront of a much heralded Ferrari revival. This could be just what the legendary Italian marque needs.