Here’s where I’d normally spin you up with an extended metaphor about legends out of time, or a flowery mediation on the nature of beautiful design in 2020, or a yarn about the connecting thread woven from Ferrari’s midcentury 12-cylinder masterpieces to the present day.
But really, none of that is necessary when the setup is so devastatingly simple: A 2020 Ferrari 812 Superfast. A Los Angeles highway network emptied of its usual traffic. A week with one of the best-handling cars money can buy. So what do you want to know?
The specs are downright cartoonish: A naturally-aspirated 6.5-liter V-12 throwing 789 horsepower (that’s 800 metric ponies, hence the name) at a clarifying 8,500 RPM. Five hundred and twenty-nine pound-feet of torque comes on just a bit lower at 7,000. Zero to 60 mph takes 2.8 seconds; zero to 100 just 5.8. True to its name, it’ll smack a superfast 211 mph before running out of steam. Lateral grip stretches just past 1.00 g. That these numbers come from a car with a straightforward front-engine, rear-wheel-drive powertrain is a testament to what makes a Ferrari a Ferrari.
That, and the way sliding behind this steering wheel, with its integrated switchgear and carbon fiber and yellow horse badge, always elicits a grin. It’s a V-12 Ferrari, for Chrissake. The draw is fundamental and unstoppable.
You’re not just paying for performance and brand image here. I mean, you mostly are. But Ferrari’s done a lot of work to make the 812 Superfast as practical as a $335,000 two-seater can be, with additions like a squishier “Bumpy Road” mode for its magnetorheological dampers, a quick-acting front-axle lift, and 18 cubic feet of cargo space in a surprisingly large rear bay. Four-wheel steering strengthens the 812’s mid-corner bite and improves its parking lot maneuverability. Vincere-vincere.
But really, the Ferrari 812 Superfast is a statement for the record—Maranello’s not giving up on a classic formula just yet, even though there are better paths to performance these days—and thus needs to be judged accordingly. So far, it’s a mostly stunning time.
The acceleration, the composure, the sound, the drama, the downshifts all live up to the image of what an Italian performance masterpiece needs to be. The most surprising thing is how light and lithe it feels, until you pop the hood and realize Ferrari’s engineers managed to stuff the entire engine behind the front axle. Its balance in an aggressive turn is impeccable. (So is the traction control, for that matter.)
Not so impeccable: that seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is joy in race mode on a good road, but it’s easily confused at slow speeds in auto mode and the throttle feels rubbery as a result. The pedal’s not all that responsive at lower RPMs to begin with, so auto mode really stretches things out.
Seriously, there’s about a 1.5-second delay when you hit the gas from a dead stop. It also needs its Pirelli shoes to be nice and hot before you can actually put the power to work in either a turn or a straight line. Even then, it’ll spin its tires at 80 mph and above on the highway if you really punch it.
We’ll have a full review on the car up soon, but in the meantime, any burning questions about the 2020 Ferrari 812 Superfast?