Driving along in fourth gear on an empty stretch of road, I stomped the throttle on the new Ferrari F12. Half expecting a momentary lag, I went about re-adjusting my driving position a touch. But before the process was complete, the rev-counter climbed with fury and the car pulled ahead like I’d hit launch control. In fourth! It was as if Gulliver’s mighty palm had pushed it, with a dozen boosters nailed to the back of his hand. But everything was so smooth, it was just the turn of pace that left me utterly gobsmacked. Not even the Lamborghini Aventador, a car that re-defined the super sports car category had shown such a rapid change of velocity, sound volume notwithstanding.
It’s then that Ferrari’s technical briefing made sense. In any gear – 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th one can access up to 90 per cent of the power in just half a second by simply standing on the throttle. The competition? Well, it takes 2.5 seconds in some cases. Yet, working furiously through the new, FF-derived 7-speed dual-clutch transmission can make matters a bit dull. Not so much by the experience, but the fact that the manner in which the shifts had started to become quicker with the F1 transmission (200 milliseconds for the 575 and 100 milliseconds for the 599) is now no longer a hot topic of discussion. Tifosi anoraks will now have to contend with other details, details that sound even nicer to the ears. Like the near 123 kg of downforce (up from the 599’s 70 kg) available at 200 kph. Or that it is a full two seconds quicker around Fiorano than the 2003 Enzo. Crikey!
But like I said, the gearshifts are smooth. Dawdle around in sport on the manettino and there is none of the whiplash effect of the Aventador’s ISR, 50-milliseconder unit, nor is it sterile like most other dual-clutch boxes. The sharpness is just enough to keep you entertained. Want more? Want to give it an extra pair of lungs? Simply flick the manettino to Race. The plenums on the end of either bank of cylinders help it gain that extra bit of performance. The soundtrack too is distinctive, as several locals seemed to suggest, with a warm smile and a twinkle in their eye as the F12 just roared past them. Honestly, a gorilla chest-thumping 731 bhp at a screaming 8700 rpm is truly spectacular, especially since even the 661 bhp from the same unit on the FF can cause your toes to twitch.
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