Here it is, then, CAR Magazine’s long-awaited first drive review of the new Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, replacement for the 599. The F12 is an all-new car, but the basics remain familiar: a powerful, naturally aspirated V12 sits ahead of the driver, while power flows to the rear wheels only. The 6262cc V12 features the same bore and stroke as the four-wheel drive FF, but the bottom end is new, plus the top end has been extensively re-worked, says Maranello. The result is 720bhp and 509lb ft torque, and not a turbo or supercharger in sight. The engine – like the seats and dashboard – also sits lower in the chassis, lowering the centre of gravity and improving handling response.
The benchmark 0-62mph sprint is dispatched in just 3.1sec, while the top speed is said to lie somewhere north of 211mph. With that incredible performance in mind, 18.8mpg – that’s 30% more efficient than the 599. The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is fantastic. It manages to combine perfect manners during low-speed maneuvering with instant shifts when you’re banging through the gears at the redline. It doesn’t have the engaging thump of, say, a Lamborghini, but I don’t miss that, and the instant shifts and explosive downshifts mean you never tire of pulling those paddles.
Comfortable, fantastic to drive, dripping with raw emotion and combining a decent helping of practicality, the F12 is a giant leap over the 599 GTB. It’ll be interesting to see how it compares with Aston’s new Vanquish, but it’s clear that the Brits will have their work cut out on this evidence.