Sun, 02 June 2019
Dick Potter put the seriously impressive Ferrari 812 Superfast through its paces in Dubai.
When I’m invited to a car test drive, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I look at previous magazine or on-line reviews of that same car – purely for research purposes you understand. I’m particularly geared towards a peek at what the chaps at Top Gear (geddit?!) might have had to say about it and whilst I enjoy their views, I am quite particular, of course, that they don’t necessarily reflect my own.
That was before I got behind the wheel of the Ferrari 812 Superfast. If you haven’t read Top Gear’s review on the 812, here’s the intro: “A rolling national anthem to everything that makes Italy great. It’s up there with the Renaissance and pizza.” Now, normally I’d counter such gushing with a stern “steady on their lads”. However, this is the Ferrari 812 Superfast they’re writing about, so I’ll let that intro go... this time!
I had the absolute pleasure of being given the keys of the 812, the successor of the F12 Berlinetta, in Dubai, for an entire day. There isn’t, in Dubai, or, come to think of it, anywhere in the Gulf, a public road that I could legally put pedal to the metal to push the 812 to its top speed of 340kph. In fact, not a mere kilometre down the Shaikh Zayed road, I caught a rapidly passing flash in the corner of my eye; hmmm, I somehow doubt it was paparazzi...! It did however give me the bright idea of a spin to the Jebel Ali Golf Club – yes, I like golf also, and no, I didn’t drive there to swing a driver. But the approach road there I knew would allow me, with no paparazzi, to give the car a bit of wellie. Which, believe me, I did. The massive 6.5-litre engine thumps out a power output of 800 PS (789hp or cavalli vapores) through 12 cylinders, hence the 812 moniker, if you hadn’t guessed that already.
As you might imagine, the engine noise doesn’t disappoint, unless you’re trying to have a quiet siesta a kilometre away. The four exhausts howl and shriek that aggressive, expensive and resounding Ferrari sound.
The bodywork, designed by Flavio Manzoni, might even have garnered a nod from Michelangelo himself. That big, front, open-mouth design gulps in air, not only to cool the engine, but also to funnel air through the body. This creates strong down forces which stabilise the car thus negating any fins or foils which would compromise its elegant lines. This creates the most powerful naturally aspirated car in current production, anywhere. The rear view of the vehicle – and I particularly like the touch of the Italian flag emblem – with the quad gaping exhausts also commands its fair share of admiration, albeit briefly, from other mere mortal cars as you flash by.
The steering is revolutionary from previous Ferraris in that it’s the first to have electronic power steering. It also utilises a rear-wheel steering system which shortens the wheel base thus allowing for more agility and stability at speed. Anyway, back to the Jebel Ali road, sprinting – the 812, not me – to 100kmh in a gut-whooping, insane 2.8 seconds, I had only enough road for four seconds with the pedal flat down in launch and race mode. If I’d had six more seconds of road, the 812 would have reached its heart pumping top speed of 340kmh.
You could argue that the 812 is all about the driving experience, so interior quality isn’t crucial. However, when you’re spending this much money – see last paragraph – quality has to count. The 812’s infotainment system is a small, colour screen and a rotary controller to the left of the steering wheel that you twist to scroll through the on-screen menus. Sat-nav, DAB radio and Bluetooth are all included as standard. Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring is, be warned, a hefty few dollars more-plus option. A second screen on the right side of the steering wheel displays the trip computer and provides in-depth driving information. The 812’s standard sports seats – upholstered to Ferrari’s ubiquitously impeccable standards – get plenty of adjustment, as does the steering wheel.
In my past review of the Ferrari Portofino, I marked it an everyday, practical Ferrari. Albeit more expensive, the 812 can also slot into this category. This stems largely from its ample storage space, something not every Ferrari can boast. The 812 has 350 litres of it in the boot alone, which, with careful packing – or using Ferrari customised luggage – makes it perfect for a long road trip or something as everyday as doing the shopping. So, a GT and a Superfast then! Enzo Ferrari is reported to have said: “When you buy a Ferrari, you pay for the engine and I will give you the rest for free.” The 812 Superfast costs in the region of USD400,000. A reasonable amount for that awesome V12, I reckon.