An unbridled V12 experience destined for a mere few. Ferrari’s mid-engined V12 (sans hybrid) is as good as we hoped
The SP3 Daytona is the third instalment of Ferrari’s Icona range, which kicked off with the SP1 and SP2 models – those 812-based, windscreen-less limited run specials of the type that every supercar manufacturer seemed to be trying with recently at extracting large sums of money from the ultra wealthy. The Icona range, in case you didn’t know, sits alongside what Ferrari calls ‘the supercars’ (hypercars to you and me) at the top of the Maranello tree, and takes inspiration from specific moments in Ferrari’s long and illustrious past, then reimaging them with current technology.
As its name suggests, the SP3 is influenced by Ferrari’s voluptuous P4 Sports Prototype that scored a memorable victory over Ford at Daytona in 1967 (a victory that also bequeathed its name to the 365 GTB/4), along with the rest of its successful sports car racers of the ‘60s and early ‘70s. So, on one level, it’s essentially a V12-powered art piece for Ferrari collectors who will have surely been invited to buy one, and not the other way around.
However, there is another way of looking at the SP3. It’s also the only way you can extract one of Ferrari’s masterful V12s from its usual front-engined GT home in the 812 and have it in a full-bodied mid-engined configuration – and with no hybrid gubbins either. The SP3 is very much the real deal: a 829bhp, purely internal combustion driven supercar that Ferrari has specifically set up for an immersive, entertaining drive rather than ultimate performance and lap times.
Underneath the extraordinary skin lies the carbon tub of a LaFerrari Aperta, albeit one so heavily reworked to meet contemporary crash legislation nearly 10 years after the old hypercar’s launch that virtually no components can be carried over. It’s based on the Aperta because in the SP3, the simple carbon fibre roof lifts out, making the car a spider, just like some P4s were so configured in-period.
To it is attached the ultimate iteration of the F140 V12, essentially a further step on from the engine used in the 812 Competizione with entirely new intake and exhaust systems to fit a mid-engined application, and gaining 10bhp in the process. Anyone hoping for a real retro vibe with a gated shift manual box will be disappointed, because it’s the usual seven-speed Ferrari twin-clutch box, but it’s reworked here with a new aggressive shift strategy at higher revs. Otherwise, Ferrari has understandably cherry picked some of the best elements of its production cars, such as the giant carbon ceramic brakes, the E-Diff and associated electronic systems.
The exterior design cannot be ignored – I’m not about to tell you what to think about something subjective, but I can tell you that the effect of driving the SP3 down a busy high street is like a rolling shockwave – it really does have the most amazing presence.
Inside, it’s equally special, with the pod-like cockpit dominated by the sharply curved windshield ahead, cleverly enabled by the use of small quarter light windows past the A pillars. Gaining entry is a fall, posterior first, followed by swinging the legs around, then reaching up and hauling the butterfly door down. The standout feature of the cockpit is the one piece seat trim, that drapes itself over the tub and forms too hammock-like chairs, finished on this car in bright blue as sometimes seen on cars like the 250 GTO. It’s a cool, retro touch, but I wish you sat slightly lower and the backrest is rather upright. The adjustability comes via a moving pedal box and the steering wheel, which can be pulled right out to nearly the chest. While the interior design is bespoke, the systems are taken from the 296 GTB, including the digital dial pack and the touch buttons on the wheel. I can’t say I find them very intuitive in that car, and it doesn’t prove any different in this one, but frankly there’s more on my mind than just irritatingly vague switchgear; there’s 829bhp to contend with…
Ferrari quotes a dry weight of 1,485kg, so in spite of its carbon structure this isn’t a true lightweight by any means. When quizzed, it simply says the body wasn’t optimised to be as light as possible, but took into account style and a sense of theatre. And that’s the whole project in a nutshell, really: the SP3 has some fancy aero management and electronics, but unlike any future LaFerrari replacement it isn’t striving to be the quickest, or match any rival. It is nearly 100kg lighter than a Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Roadster, true, but then you could argue that that car costs a fraction of the price.
Whatever, I can tell you that when you uncork a 829bhp V12 such as this one, counting kilos will absolutely be the last thing on your mind. In fact, there isn’t anything else on the grey matter other than hanging on and trying to keep your eyes on some sort of horizon. The SP3 is savagely fast, of the sort that actually wringing it out to the redline really takes a concerted effort and a dose of courage and/or stupidity to achieve on the public road. The noise is completely feral, and Ferrari’s claim that it has mapped the engine to encourage a good old fashioned full use of the rev range is borne out: the power just keeps building and building.
On cold tyres, even on a warm, dry road, the SP3 squirms and slides with incredibly little provocation. The initial sense is that it will be overwhelming, but stick with it and the SP3 settles down. The steering is an ally: it doesn’t build a lot of weight, but it does have that trademark laser accuracy and subtlety to its feedback, and as you start to push a bit harder you can sense each corner of the car come into play – how it’s hugely adjustable and responsive to the throttle.
Using the manettino in the usual fashion, it won’t be long before you’re tempted through Race to CT Off, which allows some slip, and now with the roof panel off (there’s nowhere to stow the carbon one, although there is an emergency canvas roof in the car too) the experience goes up to another level. The engine less impeded by the ESP, your follicles are under full assault, and the eardrums take a battering. You can work it up to and over the limit on its bespoke Pirelli P Zero Corsas and it’s actually something of a hooligan, although naturally, with this much power it’s never a car to take liberties with. Fun is available by the skip lorry load.
Prices and rivals
Of course, for over $2.2million in the region, so it should be. All 599 are already sold, destined for collections worldwide. Some, probably, won’t even get driven. But while you could easily debate whether it’s worth the enormous jump in price over a 812, to try and do so is to miss the point. If you can afford it and you’ve had the word come through, then why not: and if you do drive it you’ll discover it’s absolutely unforgettable.
828bhp @ 9250rpm|
514lb ft @ 7250rpm|
This article originally appeared at evo.co.uk
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