Everything about the Ferrari 812 Superfast is exceptional. The price is a stratospheric £262,963. The engine, a 6.5-litre V12 churning out 789bhp, is the most powerful naturally aspirated motor ever to find its way under the nose of a production car. And the name, 812 Superfast, is a bold but fitting title for one of the most exhilarating performance cars money can buy.
Following our first drive in the idyllic surroundings of the Italian hills last year, we’re now bringing the 812 into the real world and on to the damp, rutted and congested roads of the UK to see if its appeal can be stifled.
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If you want an 812 you had better be patient; sign for one now and you’ll be waiting the best part of two years before you take delivery. And if you want it to look like the one in our pictures, Ferrari will ask you to fork out a further £74,592 on optional extras – £51,936 of that sum is on carbon-fibre trinkets alone.
Of course, styling is subjective, but to our eyes the car has a beautiful balance of menace and elegance. On a miserable day in the UK it attracts attention like Beyonce at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
The 812 doesn’t immediately feel at home on UK roads. It’s as wide as a Range Rover but lower than a Porsche 718 Cayman, yet it rides with far more civility than you’d initially expect. Of course, there’s an evident firmness to the ride, but Ferrari’s excellent Bumpy Road setting, activated via a button on the steering wheel, softens the dampers to add an extra layer of virtual padding between you and the surface.
It’s also relatively quiet; the 812 will pootle along with traffic at 30mph in seventh gear without any fuss - the seven-speed dual clutch gearbox shuffling through the ratios without detection. Hit the motorway and at 70mph the engine pulls around 2,500rpm, but don’t expect anything more than 20mpg.
The 812 handles day-to-day life better than you’d think; we climbed out of it after a 110-mile drive and felt as fresh as we did when we got in it. But crawl out of the city and into the countryside and this V12 monster continues to stagger and delight in equal measure.
On a tight British B-road its sheer size becomes more apparent, while the steering, which is ultra alert and responsive, twitches in your hands as the enormous front tyres battle with our poor road surfaces. Squeeze the throttle and performance on offer from the 812 is so explosive it’s mildly terrifying; Ferrari says 0-62mph is over in 2.9 seconds.
Once hooked up the way it accelerates is sheer lunacy and then the way it continues to build speed is absolutely relentless. The noise from the mighty 6.5-litre V12 starts as a sharp-edged gargle and crescendos to a deafening howl as the revs whip around to its 8,900rpm limiter. Pull the huge carbon shift paddle and the gearbox slams home another ratio as you’re slingshotted towards the next corner.
When you get there, Ferrari’s treasure trove of electrical tech helps get you round as fast as possible; Side Slip Control, four-wheel steering and active aerodynamics combine to generate impressive front-end grip in the wet and balletic levels of agility. However, the slightest flex of your ankle over the throttle is enough to send the rear wheels into a traction-finding frenzy.
The 812’s limits are so high, its range of abilities so great, the occasions when you can use everything it has are so rare. But for those moments when you can, it’s one of the most jaw-dropping driving experiences (a lot of) money can buy.