There is a road that every new Ferrari visits. It’s about 45 minutes from Maranello, and has no outward significance other than it is tight, twisty, broken in places, and that every time a new production car is launched from the factory gates the lucky assembled journalists immediately head for it.
Each visit includes a degree of anxious anticipation, but on this occasion the fear factor has been kicked up a notch. Why? Because we’re here in the 812 Superfast, the most powerful series-production Ferrari ever made, and while it is layered with the serious tech that every modern Maranello product enjoys, it still puts 800 horsepower through just two wheels. There’s no hiding place here.
Not that we’re grumbling, of course. The path to the factory gates is well-worn but no less exciting for that, and while every drive of a Ferrari is special it’s difficult not to be a little pleased that there are no turbochargers awaiting us. As wonderful as the twin-turbo 3.9-liter V8s found in the 488 and California T are, and allowing for the fact that two of Ferrari’s greatest-ever road cars—the 288 GTO and F40—featured forced induction, the knowledge that the 812 Superfast effectively uses nothing more than displacement to deliver such apocalyptic power is enough to send the senses into overdrive.
There’s a lot to take in when first examining the 812. In simple terms of proportion it follows the expected direction, with a hood that never ends bleeding into a cabin that bunches up tight against a truncated tail, just as the F12 and 599 GTB did before. It also moves further toward a functional, techno-heavy look than the F12, similar to the transition from 458 to 488. Beauty is in the eye of the person signing the check, but these current models don’t have the instant grace and sweeping curves of their immediate predecessors.
Let your initial reaction settle and start to pore over the details, however, and you begin to appreciate the wind tunnel hours the designers and aerodynamicists put in together so everyone came out smiling. Look closely at that classic shark nose: Behind the visual drama you’ll see F1-aping horizontal and vertical fins leading towards the front fenders, while the top of the hood carries vents that draw air through the engine bay, helping to cool the massive motor. The same subtle aero is evident at the rear, where the haunches’ inlets and outlets suck the back end down but are almost invisible from some angles.
The Superfast pulls off the impressive trick of producing as much downforce as the wild-child F12tdf but with less drag, partly on account of how much work the underbody does. A full 40 percent of the total downforce comes from controlling the air moving underneath the car, while the front and rear diffusers provide active aero with the ability to stall under pre-determined conditions, reducing drag at high speeds. This is a truly modern Ferrari to look at, mixing the expected visual impact with the functional beauty of a car designed to travel at exceptional speed. Arguably no other marque could do it better.