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Ferrari F12 Berlinetta (2012) - the 599 supercar successor

Wed, 29 Feb 2012

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta – it's Italian for the new 599 successor. This is the new front-engined V12 supercar from Maranello, ready to be unveiled next week at the 2012 Geneva motor show in a glitzy three-layer Rosso Berlinetta paint colour.

As the daddy of the Ferrari range, the F12 Berlinetta is the most powerful road car ever produced by the Italians. The 6262cc V12 deploys 730bhp at a busy 8500rpm and 509lb ft at 6000rpm.

So the new Ferrari F12 Berlinetta is fast?

Naturally. Maranello quotes 'over 340kph' (211mph) and 0-62mph in just 3.1 seconds.

But Ferrari makes great claims over the dynamics too. They call it a 'mid-front-engined sports car', with the V12 mounted far back under the bonnet for more neutral handling.

In fact, the packaging of the F12 is as interesting as the edgy, sexy styling. At 4618mm long, it's shorter than the 599 it replaces, with a stubbier wheelbase, the gearbox slung out back in a traditional transaxle and the engine, dashboard and seats are all lower to reduce the centre of gravity. You'll be practically sitting on the tarmac in this V12.

Aluminium aplenty in the Ferrari F12

Long-time technical and design partner Scaglietti helped design the aluminium spaceframe chassis and bodyshell. It uses a dozen different types of alloy to cut weight by 70kg compared with the 599.

So the new F12 weighs in at 1525kg – that's a dry figure with no fluids on board – and 54% of that mass lies over the rear, driven wheels. Ferrari claims the structure is 20% more rigid, despite being lighter. No need for composites here, says Maranello.

Active aero plays a major part in the look of the F12. Something called the Aero Bridge at the nose generates downforce at the front by channelling air away from the top of the lid and along the flanks where it hits turbulent air from the wheels to decrease drag.

Active brake cooling ducts open only at high operating temperatures to cool the carbon discs, minimising drag by remaining flush for most of the time.

The V12 heart of the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta

This 6.2-litre V12 has its banks set at 65deg. It's naturally aspirated – no downsizing here – yet 80% of that 509lb ft torque spike is available from 2500rpm. Not that you'll have time to measure that as the F12 slings past 200kph (124mph) in just 8.5 seconds.

A twin-clutch F1 transmission promises finger-snapping quick gearchanges. Clever calibration brings a 30% cut in fuel consumption to around 18mpg, while Ferrari claims 350g/km of CO2. Both those figures are when equipped with HELE (High Emotion, Low Emissions… groan) - that's with stop-start, intelligent use of ancillaries and so forth.

Electronics galore keep all that power at bay. This thing has 80 more horsepower than an Enzo, don't forget. So you'll be grateful for the latest magneto-rheological dampers, the E-diff channeling power at the rear wheels and the latest electro-nannies managing stability and traction.

No price has been set yet, but this car is clearly going to outstrip the £212,000 of today's 599 GTB. We hear somewhere between the GTB and GTO - call it an estimated £250,000 - is likely.

Expect UK sales to start in late 2012, or possibly nudging into early 2013 according to the British distributor.

By Tim Pollard