Ferrari F12berlinetta. The Civilised Lunatic

The interior of Ferrari’s latest baby is spacious, solid, stylish but not much different to the likes of the 458 or FF. It’s a shame that the interior isn’t as dramatic as the outside, but it’s still a special place, full of leather and with a sculpted metal centrepiece that holds the gearbox controls. The seat is low (and manually operated in this particular car – more weight saving, I guess) and the F1-inspired steering wheel houses buttons aplenty – modern Ferraris are stalk-free zones.

So. Key in, press the start button on the wheel, twist the manettino switch to ‘Race’ and off I go. The first few corners at Fiorano are taken cautiously, while I try and work out if the F12 will bite. It only takes half a lap to realise that no, it won’t. The front end, despite that enormous engine, is nimble and lithe, the steering light but direct and fast. Ferrari has made the F12 with a 46/54 weight distribution to ensure the handling is optimum, and it’s less than a lap before I feel confident to really lean on the front end as I pitch it into corners previously graced by some of the greatest cars and drivers in history.

The grip is simply immense. Ever been in a fast accelerating car and had that feeling where your organs push against your rib cage? Well, in the F12 you get that laterally. It’s quite ridiculous how much I can lean on the tyres, and then that internal pressure swivels in direction as I hit the gas and realise what 730bhp really feels like. The throttle is perfectly measured to put the power down without doing an instant 180, and the tail gives a precautionary wag when the limit of adhesion approaches. In the hands of someone more skilled than me, the F12 will lap Fiorano in 1min 23sec – a second faster than the 599 GTO and two seconds faster than the Enzo.

I only get three laps, which for a circuit I’ve never driven on before isn’t really enough to get the most out of the car. But it’s a great introduction, and now I get to hit the glorious country roads around Maranello. Sadly, the first half an hour is spent in lazy traffic meandering through the villages that dot the Emilia-Romagna, so hooning is temporarily off the agenda.

But something weird happens; despite being in a 730bhp Ferrari, I don’t feel like tearing my hair out in frustration at the slow speeds. It could be the beautiful surroundings, but I think it’s more that the F12berlinetta is really easy to cruise around in. Despite the mythical levels of power, it’s docile at low speeds and the new dual-coil damper set up soaks up the lumps and bumps of Italian roads beautifully. And below 2000rpm, it’s remarkably quiet. What a contrast to that other high-horsepower Italian monster, the Lamborghini Aventador, which is a nervous, twitchy nightmare at anything other than full chat.

Once the truck up ahead stops slowing everyone down, the pace can pick up a little, but not a lot on these twisty roads, as there are still cars ahead of me and too many blind corners. And yet I’m still having fun. Spirited cruising along these tracks at 100kph is enjoyable. The steering is alive, the throttle happy to accept little blips without bunny-hopping all over the place. It’s a genuinely pleasant drive in the country.

Categories: Road


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