April 28 2013

Ferrari F12 taken round the block!

The F12 is a landmark – a paradigm shift. It will have an influence far greater than its sales reach might imply. It rewrites the rulebook on conventional ‘super-GT’ design – the class made up of the grandest of grand touring coupés. Cars with front-mounted V12 engines and 2+2 seating, which Ferrari made its own with the 1968 Daytona. Because the F12 proves that practical, long-legged exotics needn’t be so big.

They needn’t be so heavy. In fact, they can be as razor-sharp, fast and rewarding as a full-blooded supercar – and still be supremely usable.The F12 is the first 12-cylinder model ever made by Ferrari to be smaller than the car it replaces, regardless of which way you measure it. It’s also significantly lighter and stiffer but, at the same time, more spacious than a 599. It’s more powerful than a McLaren F1 and, according to official figures, faster to 62mph. It has incredible active aerodynamics; it produces actual downforce from as little as 70mph, but it still has a drag coefficient to rival a family saloon’s. Don’t ask me how that’s possible, but I believe it.

And when you drive the F12, your sense of awe only increases. This car steers with the directness of a single-seater. It’s a front-engined V12 that just doesn’t know that understeer or body roll exist. Its capacity for grip and high-speed stability in Race mode is almost as spine-tingling as its appetite for slip angle when you turn it all off.

It represents as much of a full-on challenge on a circuit as a stripped-out track special like a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. It’s not supremely easy to get on terms with, but you wouldn’t want it to be. Because, when you get it right, the F12 can lap a track as quickly as anything in the world. It’s quicker around Fiorano, Ferrari’s own test track, than an Enzo.

And besides all of that, it can still play the traditional big Ferrari. It can still be docile enough to ease away 500 miles in a sitting, dampers in soft mode, gearbox working away imperceptibly, engine mumbling quietly at a calm cruise – your nerves entirely unjangled. That breadth of ability isn’t just rare; it’s nothing short of a masterstroke.

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