Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, Front view 21 Photos Zoom

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta put to the test: From 0 to 200 km/h in 9.1 seconds

From the popular "Supercars that descend from Olympia to put themselves to the test" series, today we present: the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, V12 naturally aspirated engine, 741 bhp and a top speed of 340 km/h.

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta put to the test 4,5 1

Now, after the third set of red construction site traffic lights, just as a motor home travelling at 50 km/h trundles through some of the most wonderful bends in the Southern Black Forest region, with nine other cars behind it, it reaches the point when enough is enough. Your heart rate, blood pressure and compression all rise dangerously – or at least they would in many other sports cars. Is this also the case in the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta? No, astonishingly not. Its surprisingly level-headed character rubs off on you, is a calming influence on you, and also keeps its operating temperature down. This was not expected, at least not in the sports car limbo in which we currently find ourselves. For a good hour prior to this the F12 almost blew our minds, well I say an hour – it was really the whole day long! Flashback.

It is not just pretending!

None other than the most powerful and the fastest sports car approved for road use, the LaFerrari - the Ferrari of all Ferraris - from Maranello, was to be tested. The Ferrari F12. A twelve-cylinder naturally aspirated engine, 6.2-litre cylinder capacity, 65 degree bank angle, 180 degree crankshaft, 13.5:1 compression, seven-speed dual clutch transmission, trans-axle construction, aluminium bodywork... Enough of all that. Start the ignition. Let's get going. The expectation: the dust in the underground car park would crumble from the ceiling, two levels above passers-by would throw themselves to the floor in fear, the city railway would derail. The reality: exactly as expected. Well, at least almost. An engine of this specification and with this almost pornographically revealing visual appearance cannot do quiet. Incidentally: neither can it do efficient, in spite of all of its best efforts. Warming the catalytic converter in the process, and following on from the bright, fiendishly joyful start-up whirr, the V12 climbs up the rev counter, low, guttural, threatening, metallic...

Where is the reverse gear? Ah, a button on the central console, curved like one of the countless canal bridges in Venice. The Italians have not sucCee’ded in creating a miracle with regard to clear visibility, in particular when it comes to the distant and, on account of the carbon splitter, no doubt very expensive, nose panel, which is outside anyone's field of vision. The fact that the Ferrari F12 also has a front camera is only discovered later, but its distorted image isn't much help anyway.

Ferrari F12 cannot achieve emissions values below 350 grams CO2/km

A short pull on the carbon paddle mounted securely to the right of the steering column, and from this point onwards it is forwards all the way, for the next 398 kilometres. The manettino clicks into the Sport position, with the alternative options below being Wet, Race, CT off and ESC off. Initially the dual clutch transmission is left to its own devices, which works really well, but occasionally results in an annoying jerk when cruising. When the Ferrari F12 comes to a standstill, calm prevails once again, for its stops and starts its engine like a good boy, but emissions values of less than 350 grams of CO2/km simply aren't happening. It must have something to do with physics.

On the other hand, the good ride comfort and the comfort of the suspension is more like magic, especially given that the Ferrari F12 houses a wild and terrifying beast. Until the time comes when is set free, it disguises itself as a fast GT - make that a scarily fast GT. One minute you are chatting excitedly with your passenger, seventh gear is engaged, and you notice that the speed limit of 120 km/h on the A5 ended somewhere after Karlsruhe. The next time you glance down the speedo reads 256 km/h. It's as simple as that.

Ferrari F12 - from 0 to 100 in 3.2 seconds

No twitchy lack of directional stability (although, granted, the directional stability is not stoic), no irritating drones, no vibrations - this is ensured by low and extremely comfortable bucket seats, suitably responsive dampers with two modes and a full, warm sound, whereby the very stern undertone reminds the driver of the concealed performance values. Indeed, the Ferrari F12, weighing just over 1.7 tonnes, breaks down the 100 km/h wall in 3.2 seconds, reaching double this speed in just a further 5.9 seconds and can reach a top speed of 340 km/h. Good grief! Seems like an illusion in normal traffic.

Removed from the lethargy of conversation, the sheer power and the overall experience of the Ferrari F12 can now, however, be enjoyed. For when the drive system, control electronics and chassis work together in Race mode - along with the transmission system in Manual mode, the Ferrari truly reveals its true self to its driver. It shows him how repugnant it finds that extra tenth and hundredth of a second, striving to keep lap times to a minimum. Merely thinking about accelerating causes the V12 to snap into action. Immediate, solid. No, this isn't something that all of the best turbo engines within the supercar scene are capable of. Even in the low rev range, the drive system rampages boisterously: 5,000, 6,000, 7,000 rpm, no hesitation, it keeps going, right up to 8,700 revolutions per minute - what a ride. Then, click, the next gear, the red LEDs at the top of the steering wheel rim are already glaring in your eyes.

Only in a naturally aspirated engine can the performance be so finely modulated in this way, like slicing fresh truffles into wafer-thin slices, onto home-made pasta - enough said. This is particularly helpful in finding a suitable, perhaps even optimal line on the racetrack. The very carefully tuned control electronics are likewise helpful. When they kick in, you realise that you definitely couldn't go faster without them. Or you'd just end up in the surrounding shrubs. Want to switch them off? Of course, that's possible too. Then the electronically controlled limited slip differential of the Ferrari F12 has to take care of the traction on its own, which it manages with aplomb. And the grip level at the front axle is no less impressive, in fact it is every bit as impressive.

Precise cornering

Although the Ferrari F12 allows comparatively pronounced chassis movements, the steering responds directly at almost any speed, like a heavy weight boxing champion dodging left and right hooks (have a look for the similarities yourself, there are plenty of them) . Indeed, this takes some getting used to, but ultimately results in valiant drive dynamic values - without all-wheel drive or steering. The Ferrari F12 gives the feeling of driving a car in the weight class below. It seems unshakably firm and precise. Understeer Under... what? Oversteer, yes, this is something it is familiar with and can deliver, if the driver wants. If not? Then the F12 remains neutral. And fast, very fast, all the time. Even when it appears harmless on the long stretches of the course, you should keep its performance ability in mind, don't let yourself be distracted. By the genuinely scary operating controls for example, with ten buttons on the steering wheel alone. If a steering wheel and pedals were not essential, Ferrari would presumably have also hidden them in one of the sub-menus in the two small monitors beside the rev counter.

What's more, you should not focus too much on the details inside the vehicle, certain instances of carelessness in the finish could have a negative effect on your heart rate, blood pressure and complexion – even more so than the trundling motor home. Nevertheless, the Ferrari F12 now takes the next exit off the road and in so doing casts off its very level-headed character, which has remained on display until precisely this moment. At least for the next few corners.



Rossen Gargolov


26 January 2015
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