TEST DRIVE: 2017 FERRARI 812 SUPERFAST

Ferrari’s lineup of models has always been quite small but every variant is inevitably highly desirable, but there’s always been one car that gained a little prominence over the rest. Right now this has to be the awesome 812 Superfast with its impressive performance, superb styling and (surprisingly) spacious interior.

There have been several Superfasts from Ferrari over the years, not all of them that appealing, but the latest car to use the name is arguably the best looking of the lot. Designed by the Ferrari Styling Centre and not an outside contractor, it has svelte, sinewy lines that somehow combine to give the car a muscular, ground-hugging appearance. There are lots of aerodynamic aids built subtly into the bodywork and it ends up looking so much better than rivals that bristle with add-on spoilers and the like. It’s unlikely to arouse much controversy among Ferrari hard-liners because it’s the embodiment of just about everything the famous brand is all about.

The new 812 grand tourer, which made its debut at the Geneva show earlier this year, is a successor to the earlier F12 Berlinetta but has a bigger engine. The car uses a front mid-engine rear-wheel drive configuration and the power unit is a splendid piece of engineering to behold. It’s a 6.5-litre V-12 producing a mighty 800PS (789-horsepower) and 718 Nm of torque. This is very serious power indeed and it’s no surprise that the 812 rockets to 100 km/h in less than 3.0-seconds. The name ‘Superfast’ has real meaning here! The transmission is 7-speed, dual-clutch automatic and shifts much faster than could be achieved by anyone using a manual gearbox. The huge torque levels give the car great flexibility so the automatic was definitely the right way to go.

It’s said that buyers of supercars with V-12 engines demand good interior space and they get it with the 812. It’s a very sporty cockpit to be sure and there are lots of very modernistic elements scattered around, but it’s a practical work area for the driver, with excellent leg, head and shoulder room. Like most upmarket cars these days, there are lots of electronic stability aids to make even an inexperienced driver feel totally in control. All-wheel drive might have been nice with the power this Ferrari has, but the company has developed a chassis that provides outstanding grip and controllability from its layout.

Ferrari points out that the average buyer spends a large sum on options so there are plenty available, many of them for personalizing the interior. Carbon fibre trim around the cockpit is great to have, though this is purely a cosmetic feature. Even in its most basic form (though, no Ferrari is really ‘basic’) this is a highly covetable GT car and is bound to be a great success for the Maranello maker when volume production begins in September. Ferrari has given buyers everything they could possible expect from the legendary marque and added lots more as a bonus.

IN SUMMARY…

ENGINE: 6.5-litre V-12, 800-horsepower

TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic

ACCELERATION: Zero to 100 km/h in 2.9-seconds

TOP SPEED: Over 355 km/h

PRICE: Approx. $350,000

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