Seven-hundred forty horsepower makes a compelling sales pitch, and that number was even more impressive when Ferrari launched the F12berlinetta in 2012. (At the time, just about the only thing more powerful on U.S. roads was the Bugatti Veyron.) But while its fearsome normally aspirated 6.3-liter V12 dominates the F12 experience, Ferrari’s sports-car flagship is far from a one-trick pony.
First things first, though: The F12 is fast. Really fast. Thanks to its abundance of power, seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and impressive complement of electronic driver’s aids, the Ferrari sprints from rest to 62 mph in just 3.1 seconds; 124 mph comes only 5.4 seconds later.
The F12 handles, too. Its all-new (and still all-aluminum) chassis is about 20-percent stiffer than that of its predecessor, the 599 GTB Fiorano, and allows a more rearward weight bias (46/54 versus 47/53). The newer car also enjoys an inch-lower center of gravity, as well as a 155-pound weight loss.
Further aiding performance is the F12’s sleek aluminum bodywork, styled hand-in-hand for both beauty and aerodynamic efficiency. The latter required the usual Computational Fluid Dynamics and wind-tunnel time (350 hours, to be precise), and produced several innovations. The most visible example is the Aerobridge, a channel that directs air from the hood, behind the front fenders, and out onto the car’s sculpted sides. Add up all the aero trickery and you get 271 pounds of downforce at 124 mph (a 70-percent increase over the 599) and a lithe 0.299 coefficient of drag (an 11-percent gain).
About that beauty: The chiseled F12 makes the 599 look chubby. It looks as low, lean, and intimidating as its spec sheet suggests—but it’s far from difficult to drive. Treat the throttle with respect and those 740 horses are as docile as a pack of mules; the chassis is beautifully balanced, too. Just as impressive, the all-day comfortable F12 feels just as much at home on the highway as it does tearing up a mountain pass.
In late 2014, Ferrari unveiled the F60 America. Inspired by the 1960s 275-based NART Spyder, just ten of these topless F12s were built—exclusively for the U.S. market and only for Ferrari’s most-favored clients.
The following year saw the arrival of a second variant: the track-ready F12tdf. Named in homage of the dual-purpose 250 GT Tour de France of the 1950s, the tdf boasts more power (780 hp in total), less weight (by 220 pounds), more downforce, new bodywork, shorter gears and faster shifting, a stripped interior, (much) stiffer suspension, and, in a Ferrari first, rear-wheel steering.
No matter which flavor you prefer, there’s really nothing not to like about the F12 family. Whether or not you have the budget to buy one, this is one Ferrari you simply have to drive.