2019 Ferrari 812 Superfast review – it's all about the powertrain

The pinnacle of front-engined Ferrari engineering, the 812 melds mind-warping performance with a chassis that draws you into the action

The Ferrari F12 was hardly short of firepower, but you don’t get ahead by standing still, so it came as no surprise when the Italian brand launched an even faster flagship. Designed to humble the likes of the Lamborghini Aventador S  and McLaren 720S, the Ferrari 812 Superfast (yes, really) goes its own, front-engined way in the pursuit of ultimate road car performance.

Essentially a heavily revised F12 that incorporates many of the lessons learned with the fearsome TdF, the 812 packs a 789bhp (that’s seven hundred and eighty nine!) development of the incredible V12 that can trace its roots back to the Enzo. It also features a more advanced chassis with four-wheel steering, plenty of active aerodynamics and the latest suite of driver aids. The result, says Ferrari, is the most exciting yet approachable supercar it’s ever made.

> Best supercars 2018

Is it right? We’ll come to the answers in more detail in a moment, for now you can take it as read that the Superfast is an almighty piece of work on Ferrari’s behalf. It is monumentally fast, sounds absolutely out of this world, has a gear change – and, more to the point, a new shorter set of gear ratios – that will fray the outer edges of your imagination with its brilliance, and its chassis has mostly been improved to create a deeply seminal range of abilities – on both road and track.

But there are caveats, albeit highly subjective ones. One, to our eyes it no longer looks as classically beautiful as the F12, thanks mainly to the new aerodynamic elements along its flanks and at the back. Second, its new electronic power steering is more hyperactive than ever in its response, thanks in part to a new rear-wheel-steering system that improves turn in, yes, but which also takes time to warm to because of the way it behaves. All up, though, the Superfast is a quite extraordinary car. Here’s why.

Ferrari 812 Superfast: in detail

 

  • Performance and 0-60 time - Explosive yet exploitable acceleration makes the 812 mind-blowingly fast when you want, but docile when you don’t.
  • Engine and gearbox - The 6.5-litre V12 is a work of internal combustion art, delivering searing pace and a symphonic soundtrack.
  • Ride and handling - Traditional front-engine rear-wheel-drive layout results in brilliant balance and involvement, while the ride is surprisingly comfortable in the softest setting.
  • Interior and tech - Some of the plastics feel a bit ‘Fiat’, but sense of occasion is unrivalled. It’s packed with kit too.
  • Design - Some of the F12’s elegance has been lost in pursuit of aero efficiency, but brutal ‘form follows function’ looks aren’t without appeal.

Prices, specs and rivals

While it’s difficult to declare something that costs £263,098 as being good value for money, even if it is capable of more than 200mph (next to a private jet, we suppose it’s fairly inexpensive), nor is the price unjustified considering the performance on offer. Its intended market would certainly seem to agree; at launch the car quickly filled an order book two and a half years long, although whether it will be one of those exclusive Ferraris that goes up in value in the longer term is far from a sure thing.

Choosing a rival for the Superfast is far from straightforward, as few other companies have gone down the front-engined route at this level. One that has, and a car we compared to the Superfast in a recent issue of evo, is the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. It’s notable that it too has ‘Super’ in the name, as like the Ferrari the Aston’s performance is on another level from most front-engined GTs, courtesy of 715bhp from its turbocharged 5.2-litre V12.

> Click here for our review of the Lamborghini Aventador S

At £225,000 it’s a little more affordable than the Ferrari – this being relative, of course – and the thrills it delivers aren’t quite as visceral, though thanks to turbocharging its enormous performance is even more accessible, and there’s no doubt it’s a more relaxed car than the occasionally hyperactive 812.

Another you might consider is the £271,146 Lamborghini Aventador S, which like the Ferrari goes down the naturally aspirated V12 path, but being mid-engined and even more visually barmy, isn’t quite as usable as the GT-like 812. Elsewhere the Ford GT at £450k looks expensive considering it has over 140bhp less and just isn’t as accelerative as the 812, even if it has a higher top speed.

Possibly the keenest traditional supercar rival for the Superfast is the McLaren 720S, which at £208,600 undercuts the Ferrari by more than £40,000 – although at this rarefied end of the market that’s pocket change. It’s not as powerful as the Superfast, but we’d be lying if we said there was much between the two for real world performance. Both cars pack masses of visual drama and are a hoot to drive, until you get serious, when both demand all your concentration and skill. Only the McLaren’s slightly charmless engine noise lets it down in the final reckoning.

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