We take the new Ferrari F12berlinetta to find an epic stretch of road in Ras Al Khaimah. Only problem is, we’re not too sure where it is…
*ORIGINAL POST DATE: July 2013We cannot display this gallery
Strange. The hair-whitening pangs of terror that normally surface when I slip behind the wheel of a supercar are nowhere to be found. Certainly I’m nervous – the prospect of scratching a rather low, rather wide and hideously expensive Ferrari is not something I’m keen to do – but not as much as I’d expected to be.
Today I’m driving Ferrari’s new F12berlinetta, which everybody and their opposable-thumb having dog has been eager to take for a spin since its launch at last year’s Geneva Motor Show. In Ferrari’s main showroom in Dubai, I’m being given a final run-through of what switches do what, which systems are which, and ‘kindly don’t touch that’s by a very smiley lady with Ferrari lapels. The prospect of driving the fastest road going Ferrari GT every made meant I hadn’t slept particularly soundly the night before. But now that I’m safely closeted in the exquisite cabin, adjusting the mirrors, sinking further into the surprisingly comfortable Frau leather seat, and marvelling at a Ferrari with cruise control, everything feels…normal.
I can hear you recoiling at that notion, and I grant you it is ridiculous, particularly when the 6.3-litre naturally aspirated V12 fires into furious life when I press the big red ‘Engine Start’ button on the Human Machine Interface (that’s Italian for ‘multifunction steering wheel’). It’s a sound that in the 458 Italia – the last example from Maranello in which I was lucky enough to take a spin – left me both excited but very conscious that I was about to take a quarter million dollar supercar onto the open road. In the berlinetta, all I can do is beam.
It’s a notion that sticks with me as we – that’s crankandpiston photographer Arun and I – roll out the showroom-shuttered doors. It quickly disappears as I begin navigating the Ferrari’s perfect scarlet paint finish through Dubai’s crowded streets. One bike messenger after another hurtles almost painfully close to the $326,000 F12’s wing mirrors and immaculate paint finish, and I’m suddenly aware that ‘normal’ in a Ferrari is ridiculous.
Twenty fraught minutes later, we hit Dubai’s perimeter road and I point the nose Ras Al Khaimah-wards where Arun knows of a road perfect for a shoot of this magnitude. Since the car is in hot demand – and since its eventual owner will be pretty dis-chuffed to see 10k on the clock – I’ve promised Ferrari’s PR guru Ghita that our road trip won’t exceed 500km. With an open road in front of me, 730hp and 509lb ft of torque at the mercy of my right foot, and the prospect of 0-100kph in 3.1 seconds and a 340kph top speed, it’s an enormously tempting promise to ignore. Better sense and the thought of a clip round the ear from my genial Ferrari hostess prevail after a few minutes, but I can’t help opening the taps when the traffic finally clears.
I’d love to tell you about the noise from the exhaust pipes, but the air at that moment is alive with the sound of both Arun and I laughing and grinning like idiots. The guttural roar that emanates to begin with is spine tingling, but hit the 4000rpm mark and the roar reaches a new crescendo: you’re suddenly being blasted in the face by a bellow likely to set you weeping. Naturally this does nothing but encourages me, and soon I’m dipping below the 4000rpm mark again in the lower gears just so that I can plant the loud pedal repeatedly. Passing motorists wonder what the pillock in the shiny red car is doing.