Ferrari is, in my mind, a bit like Nick Kyrigos. Very good at what they do, but actually three years old.
For example, remember when Ferrari refused to supply TopGear with a LaFerrari to race with a McLaren, unless they got to fiddle with it first? And that should anyone get it into their head to lend their LaFerrari instead, they’d never be allowed to buy a special edition Ferrari ever, ever again.
That’s not all though. I heard Sergio Marchionne, Ferrari’s chairman, on the news the other day whining about how Formula One is thinking about changing the rules, and he said that if they did, Ferrari “wouldn’t play anymore.” I haven’t said that since Playgroup. Actually, it might have been last year's Monopoly.*
But I know where this is all descended from. The great man himself. Enzo was of course, a brilliant racer and he deserved all the medals and titles he got, but occasionally he had temper tantrums and threw car parts at his engineers. Plus, he wore sunnies inside. There comes a point in life where you realise that wearing sunnies in a certain context isn’t cool. For many it is age four.
Anyway, this brings me to the latest Grand Tourer from Ferrari, and while it is utterly mind-blowing and terrifically desirable, it’s called the 812 Superfast. This of course harks back to the 1964 Ferrari 500 Superfast, but after years and years of “Scagletti” and “Modena” – even if they only meant baked beans in Italian – Superfast sounds childish. This has no relevance whatsoever but when I was 9 I drew a car and called it ULTRADAWN, and I’m still a bit chuffed at that imaginative brilliance.
But since petulant childishness is merely a flaw in the genius that is Ferrari, we won’t dwell on it. What’s far more important is exactly what kind of genius-inspired thing this Superfast actually is.
When Ferrari brings out a madder version of a standard car, that standard car being the F12 Berlinetta and the madder version being the TDF, we should all pay attention because it generally means something is in the pipeline. The madder version is often a testbed, though Ferrari calls it a “special edition”, and threatens to never let you buy one again if you don’t do as they say.
Ferrari has borrowed a lot of the technology showcased on the TDF, such as the rear-wheel-steering, for the Superfast. What they’ve admitted they have done, though, is knock some of the rough edges off.
But Ferrari’s Head of Design, Flavio Mazoni (they could have named it after him) has said that neither the F12 Berlinetta nor the TDF can compare to the Superfast in sheer glory. For one reason, the engine. It’s a monstrous 6.5L naturally-aspirated V12, which makes 588kW and can apparently scream with such a deafening intensity that Harley riders will fall off their bikes – backwards of course – and cry. It has 50 more metric horsepower than a Lamborghini Aventador SV. It can go from 0-200km/h much faster than your car can get to 100.
This is impressive, but according to those fortunate enough to drive one, the Superfast also has the perfect chassis and gearbox, and is thus an absolutely sublime beast to control. If I define it at its core, this isn’t a case of making something very, very powerful. It’s a case of that, but also doing the more difficult task of making it easy – no, possible – to use. It’s this kind of science and engineering that garners Ferrari so much respect. It’s also this kind of science and engineering that makes things stuck in our textbooks, like Saturn V, look like one-trick point-and-shoot ponies. Donkeys, actually.
It’s also this kind of science and engineering that makes me gaze long into the distance, and seeing as we don’t want that here, now, I’ll move on.
While ULTRADAWN looked good, with a wheelbase that had to be aborted as it approached the edge of the paper, I suspect it would have been an aerodynamic disaster. And when you get into the kind of speed territory that a Ferrari finds itself in, the normal rules that dictate design – does it look good – are overshadowed by aerodynamic demands.
It’s one thing that internet people who see images of a newly released supercar don’t really get all that well. They wonder why it doesn’t always look like the Sistine Chapel roof. Yes, I’d argue it’s possible for advanced aerodynamics and beauty to agree completely, like the Aston Martin Vulcan, but often there’s many compromises.
At any rate, the relevance of this is that I don’t really like the front of the Superfast that much. I love the epic rear, and the side profile, but the frontal angles look very messy. The thing is, though, it needs all that mouth to fill its deep lungs, and the angley bits create downforce. The slats above the headlights have proven controversial, but they cool the brakes so I wouldn’t complain.
So this isn’t a case of fake vents on a Honda Jazz, which I don’t like either.
Could they have done it another way? Aston Martin goes out of their way to hide aero behind art. But I don’t know, and seeing as even the worst shots are growing on me, I don’t particularly care.
Inside, there’s claims the Superfast has got more ergonomic, and seeing as Ferraris have always completely lost out in interior design to Lamborghini, that can only be good. It stills looks a bit chaotic I have to say, but there’s much expensive leather and of course, the Italians have been masters of craftsmanship since the Renaissance.
The take-home message is that Ferrari’s new flagship is everything they stand for. Mind-blowing engineering and precision that tame and rein otherwise impossible power, art and science in harmony, with the occasional argument, and completed by a wild noise that many are saying is the last ever to come from a Ferrari, before they go the hybrid way.
That could be just any other Ferrari, if not to the same degree, but then there’s the fact that the Superfast picks up on that other, less overt aspect of Ferrari. Its childishness.
Because I’ve been thinking. Not even Hotwheels, which used to drive me crazy, would call a made-up car "Superfast". It would be a bit too foolish even for them.
*Okay, it was last year’s Monopoly. I hadn’t said it for years, and bear in mind that what happened is I had collected a full set and was ready to build apartments, when suddenly someone thought it would be a good idea to add another property to the set – and yes, of course, I had to go and collect that one as well. They wouldn’t budge, but I have to say the board did.
2018 FERRARI 812 SUPERFAST
PRICE: $610,000 AUD | ENGINE: 6,496 cc V12 petrol | POWER: 588 kW (789 bhp) | TORQUE: 718 Nm (530 lb ft) | TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic; RWD | PERFORMANCE: 0-100 km/h in 2.9 seconds (0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds); 340 km/h (211 mph) | ECONOMY: 14.9 L / 100 km (19.0 mpg) | WEIGHT: 1,525 kg
PHOTO CREDIT: netcarshow.com