Well, it's my new favorite Ferrari! And of course it is.
Yes, I like the entry level California T (now called the Portofino) very much, adore the 488 GTB and Spider (the latest mid-engine Ferraris), and I have much love for the GTC4 Lusso. But I hadn't ever driven the F12berlinetta.
I had driven the V12 motor, which also lurks beneath the hood of the Lusso. But new 812 was something I craved: a pure, two-seat GT car with mountains of naturally aspirated power. This is the kind of power you can get lost in by yourself, or that you share with someone close. But it's private power. Intimate.
And there's plenty of it. Did I say "plenty?" That's not the word. It's endless power. Not unlike what I recently enjoyed with the 755-horsepower Corvette ZR1. At the legal speed limit in the 812 Superfast, you've barely roused the beast. On the freeway, you can finesse the throttle to dance the 6.5-liter under the hood (an upward bump in displacement from the F12's 6.3-liters), enjoying the snarls and growls; or you can shift gears yourself, using the elegant carbon-fiber paddles behind the steering wheel, and feel the snaps and jerks, the kicks to your spine and sternum as you deploy the G-forces.
When you've got an 8,900-rpm redline in front on you, it's unlikely you'll tap into the full effects of the engine. But you can tease yourself. All you're left with is the knowledge that so, so much of the 812 is out of reach. The car is really out of time, in this sense. It's from an era when you could point the radiator of a V12 south and cover hundreds of miles at well above three digits on the speedometer. The 812 is supposed to go 120 mph for hours on end.
Air resistance is nothing, thanks to the assorted spoilers, aero effects, slashes, and sculptural cut-ins that enables the wind to pass through the 812's bodywork. There's a steady, comforting whoosh of wind, coupled with the unholy howls of the motor. You could listen to some music, but you might ask yourself why you would, with such a satisfying natural din enveloping your reality.
Yes, succulence such as this cost money, big money. But the 812 is a Ferrari for somebody who has made it. Besides, every dollar is worth it. Every dollar has paid for something grand and special. Just think about amortizing the investment in the timeframe of forever.
Given that the V12 is so abundantly potent, it's easy to forget that the 812 Superfast is also supposed to be super fast in corners. The rear-wheel steering adds a nice assist, particularly if a touch of understeer sets in, and the electric steering is quite communicative. The 812 doesn't feel as sharp or darty as the 488 GTB, but it does feel as though you could dive into a curve and power through with aplomb.
The combination might well be threatened, however. A 6.5-liter V12 isn't designed for fuel-economy, and Ferrari intends to shift its lineup in the direction of turbos and hybrids. At some point, gone will be the distinctive pleasures of a monster motor joined to flamboyant styling and an elegant, but purposeful interior. Gone as well will be that monster motor engaged in the elemental process of taking high-octane fuel, squirting it into a dozen narrow chambers, adding air and making it explode, and transforming that constrained violence into velocity and near-sacred noise.
The bottom line is that all the Ferraris currently on sale are great, and each is great in its own way. But the 812 Superfast is special. It is fast. It is beautiful. It can command a road, any road. But it also links the driver to a time when the bigness of an engine and ability of a motor car to stun were joined. That makes the 812 a dinosaur. But it also makes it the most magnificent dinosaur imaginable. And an Italian one, on top of everything else.