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Ferrari F12 Berlinetta 2016 review

EXPERT RATING
8
Craig Duff road tests and reviews the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Frighteningly quick and fabulously forgiving, the grand tourer can sit on 200km/h all day

There are sharks and then there are great whites. We instinctively flee from them all but great whites mesmerise us with their size and power and pace.

It's the same scenario aboard the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. There are (marginally) quicker cars but none can command the attention this two-door grand tourer gets.

Those in the know will recognise the long, sweeping bonnet as the receptacle for a race-bred V12 that will propel the F12 to 200km/h in 8.5 seconds and sit at that speed for hours if the autobahn traffic obliges.

It's not the mako in the Ferrari fleet; that role goes to the 488 with its mid-mounded V8 firing it into and through the turns with a touch more composure. The F12 has the more expansive task of being impossibly quick while accommodating the valises for a weekend jaunt.

Design

Berlinetta is Italian for "little limousine" and that's its role in the Ferrari stable. The curves and contours are wind tunnel-tested to do their bit in keeping the car on the road.

Outward vision is — by supercar standards — superb.

Open the massive doors and it is possible to slide into the low-slung leather seats rather than having to fall into them. That can't always be said for supercar seating.

The steering wheel is a work of art, even if the carbon-fibre inlays and LED shift-indicator lights are a $9200 option. Buttons and levers are minimised — there's not even a regular lever for the seven-speed dual clutch automatic.

Choose first gear by tapping the right paddle-shifter. Tap again and the F12 assumes you want to handle gearchanging, otherwise there's a button for auto shifting on the bridge linking the centre console and dash, along with a switch for reverse and one ominously marked "launch".

Outward vision is — by supercar standards — superb. The raised wheel arches on the bonnet give some idea of where the nose ends and you can see more through the rear window than just the grille of the car behind.

About town

Puttering around in traffic is hardly the highlight of F12 ownership but the fact is it can be comfortably done without stressing occupants or the vehicle.

At low revs the V12 is stutter-free smooth as the auto grabs gears with indecent speed to keep the engine awake without arousing it. The ride height is just enough that you don't wince every time the Ferrari rides over a manhole cover (though you still pay close attention to driveways ... and use the ride lift button).

The side mirrors give a respectable view of adjacent lanes and the steering isn't so sharp you'll accidentally end up in them.

The brakes are as ferocious as the engine and they need to be.

The wide-opening doors are the biggest impediment to city living and care needs to be taken when entering or exiting in a packed carpark. Never mind the other vehicle — you don't want paint chips on the F12's doors.

Expect fingerprints, though: the F12 will be photographed on the move and stationary and the smudge marks indicate hands often connect with windows in pursuit of an interior shot.

On the road

It takes just 3.1 seconds to question the intelligence of regularly driving an F12 on Australian roads — this thoroughbred is thoroughly nobbled by our speed limits.

The naturally aspirated engine naturally does its best work high on the tacho and with this much propulsion you can't legally tap all the potential, even in second gear.

Predatory at 4000rpm, the F12 is simply ravenous as it nears the 8700rpm red-line. The sensation of firing it to those heights is addictive — it's like having the accelerator attached to your adrenal gland — and I've only got the steering wheel-mounted drive selector in Sport, leaving two more levels of insanity on tap. The brakes are as ferocious as the engine and they need to be, given the F12 winds out to 340km/h.

The exhaust note under load is cause to try and get there. It is a manic, mechanical howl that reverberates back into the cabin to overwhelm tyre noise, wind rush and common sense.

Hairpins aren't the F12's forte but on any bend with an advisory sign beyond 35km/h it'll take a special car to stick with the Ferrari, a fact that exponentially increases with the radius of the turn. The V12's massive grunt can wiggle the back tyres on corner exit but it's soon tamed by the stability control, at least in Sport.

Verdict

Money talks and the F12 fair yells success. Rivals may have the edge for sheer pace but it is hard to overlook the fact this is a frighteningly quick and fabulously forgiving Ferrari.

What it's got

Adaptive dampers, carbon ceramic brakes, launch control, powered seats, reversing camera, USB and Apple CarPlay connectivity, thumping V12.

What it hasn't

Adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure and rear cross-traffic alert, indemnity from traffic offences.

Ownership

Buying a Ferrari isn't cheap and the perception is that, having bought one, you'll need to sell your soul to keep it running. That's no longer the case with servicing costs bundled into the price of locally sold models. Owners still need to replenish fuel, brake pads and rubber.

 

Click here to see more 2016 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta pricing and spec info.

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Berlinetta 6.3L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO No recent listings 2016 Ferrari F12 2016 Berlinetta Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Pricing Guide

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