I recently had the chance to drive the Ferrari 812 Superfast, which is a supercar from Ferrari, noted manufacturer of supercars and also bright yellow shoes with the Ferrari logo on them. For those who don’t know, the 812 Superfast replaced the F12 Berlinetta, and the name recalls some Ferrari from the olden days that was considered "super fast" back then.
Well, I can’t speak for the original "Superfast," but I spent the day with the new one, and I can promise you this: it is, indeed, super fast. Really, really, incredibly super fast. You get in, press the pedal and you truly can’t help yourself from being totally mystified that you can travel at this level of speed, especially in a vehicle that has quilted leather trim that’s nicer than any piece of furniture in my home.
Here are the specs: The 812 Superfast has a naturally-aspirated V12 with 789 horsepower and 530 lb-ft of torque, and it’s the most powerful naturally-aspirated car ever. Somehow, this thing is still rear-wheel drive, even though most everything else is all-wheel drive to get all this power to the ground — but the 812 Superfast seems to have no trouble, sprinting from 0-to-60 in 2.8 seconds.
Of course, it also hails from world-famous Ferrari, and it has a very lot of nice pieces in the interior, which helps explain the MSRP: It starts around $340,000, but the one I drove had a sticker price of well over $400,000 with options. Then, of course, there are taxes: Buy one of these in a jurisdiction with 7 percent sales tax, and you’ll spend $28,000 just for your license plate.
This is a lot of money, but as I said, it’s super fast. Putting down the accelerator is a truly unbelievable experience where you’re rocketed forward at such a rate you can scarcely believe it. There aren’t many places in this country where you can put your foot to the floor for three seconds, legally, and there aren’t many places in the entire world where you can do it for 10 seconds safely. The car jams you back in your seat — the G-forces are amazing — and you can’t help but giggle like a small child on a swing set.
And then there’s the handling. The 812 Superfast is among the most stable cars I’ve ever driven at high speeds, but it’s also just as stable when you’re going around corners, with the wide track and relatively low center of gravity contributing to a situation where there’s virtually no body roll. Steering is light, as it is in everything now, but it’s also incredibly precise; a small jerk of the wheel turns the car instantaneously, which is a neat trick considering the 812 isn’t small — the curb weight is 3,600 pounds. But it feels like half that when you’re pushing it hard.
Admittedly, there are drawbacks. The price is obviously one, and then there’s one issue I noticed with the handling, whereby you feel like you’ve got a lot of car to rotate in front of you, since you sit so far back — or, in other words, the 812 Superfast handles a bit like the front-heavy sports car that it is. It mitigates it well, but I generally find mid-engine cars to be a bit more responsive and confidence-inducing, given the better weight distribution.
There’s also the styling. The 812 Superfast, like the F12 before it, has been criticized a bit for its over-the-top styling, and I understand the concerns — though I actually prefer the 812 to the F12. There are a lot of creases, cuts and gouges, and it all busies up what could otherwise be a gorgeous, simple design.
But to me, it’s small potatoes, and I think this complaint is primarily leveled by people who are just looking for something to complain about. Yes, the design’s slightly fussy. Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, maybe it feels a bit front-heavy. But it’s also one of the best sports cars on the market today, one of the fastest sports cars ever and quite possibly Ferrari’s last naturally-aspirated V12 vehicle. It’s a dream, and it was a dream to drive it. If I had $400,000 to spend on a car, you’d bet this would be on my short list.
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