Power Trip

The F12 offers great looks and even better handling, but Ferrari’s mighty 6.3-liter V12 is unquestionably the star of the show.

Photo: Power Trip 1
March 7, 2024

Power isn’t everything, but 740 hp certainly makes for a compelling sales pitch—and that number was even more impressive when Ferrari launched the F12berlinetta in 2012. But while a normally aspirated 6.3-liter V12 dominates the F12 driving experience, this former flagship sports car 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 array of electronic driver’s aids, the Ferrari sprints from rest to 62 mph in just 3.1 seconds; 124 mph arrives only 5.4 seconds later.

The F12 handles beautifully, too. Its all-new, all-aluminum chassis is about 20-percent stiffer that of its predecessor, the 599 GTB Fiorano, and features a more rearward weight bias (46/54 versus 47/53). The newer car also boasts 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 (CFD) and wind-tunnel time, and produced several innovations. The most visible example is the Aerobridge, two channels that direct 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 improvement).

Despite its low, lean, and intimidating appearance, the F12 is far from difficult to drive. Treat the throttle with respect and those 740 horses are as docile as a pack of mules. Just as impressive, this all-day comfortable machine feels as much at home on the highway as it does tearing down a mountain pass or deserted back road.

In late 2014, Ferrari unveiled the F60 America. Inspired by the late-’60s 275 GTB/4-based NART Spyder, and likewise exclusive to the U.S. market, just ten of these roofless F12s were built.

The following year saw the arrival of a second variant: the track-ready F12tdf. Named in homage to the dual-purpose 250 GT Tour de France of the 1950s, the tdf boasts more power (780 hp), 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, you simply have to drive this fearsomely fast Ferrari.

Photo: Power Trip 2


As is normal with Ferrari’s latest-and-greatest supercars, the first F12berlinettas to reach U.S. shores in 2013 sold for $100,000 or more over their already hefty stickers. The model’s base price started at $320,000, and Ferrari’s profitable habit of piling on the options instantly took out-the-door prices into the $375,000-400,000 range—or higher.

Popular items included such niceties as a carbon-fiber steering wheel ($5,000), dash inserts ($7,000), and driver’s zone (also $7,000); a backup camera ($3,600), suspension-lifter system ($5,500), and AFS headlights ($3,000); and the obligatory Scuderia shields on the front fenders ($1,750) and colored brake calipers ($1,450). Buyers could also opt for any number of other goodies from the factory’s two-page list of options.

Demand and cost rose sharply for the F12tdf, which started at a base price of $490,000 when it hit the U.S. market in 2016. Beyond its new bodywork and extra performance, the TdF offered the promise of exclusivity: Only 799 were built, with just 299 sent to America. These cars were sold with a contract that prevented selling the car for 18 months, which stopped quick flips but later led to the first few TdFs selling in the $1.3-million range. Today, sub-500 mile cars still reside in that same price range, a 5,000-mile example will sell for roughly $1 million, and any car with close to 20,000 miles drops toward $750,000.

Moving further up the food chain, the F60 is the only convertible, as well as the ultimate collector’s, F12, with just 10 examples produced. Only one of these cars (s/n 215096) has so far come to market, selling for $3.6 million at RM’s Monterey auction in 2021.

With an estimated 3,700 F12berlinettas produced, there are always 100 or more “base” models for sale. Thanks to the arrival of its even-faster 812 Superfast successor, depreciation, and that plentiful availability, early examples can now be found in the $250,000 range. That’s not cheap, but given the F12’s staggering performance, eye-candy appeal, comfort, reliability, and all-around usability, it’s perhaps not too much of a stretch to call the F12 an exotic bargain. —Michael Sheehan

Model Low High
F12berlinetta $250,000 $300,000
F12tdf $750,000 $1,300,000
F60 America $3,600,000

These prices are for nicely optioned, well documented,
and fully serviced cars in good to great condition as of March 2024.

The Garage

The F12berlinetta is as rugged and reliable as any now-10-year-old low-production supercar can hope to be. The usual wear-and-tear items have proven to be impressively robust, and maintenance costs are minimal by exotic-car standards—although most F12s have covered fewer than 10,000 miles so far. Expect to pay $2,500 for an annual service, with much of that cost going toward ultra-modern lubricants; the once-dreaded, twice-a-decade cam-belt replacement is now a thing of the past.

When new, the F12’s bumper-to-bumper warranty was good for three years and unlimited miles. Owners had the option to extend the original warranty for another year or two—at a high four-figure price—then, once that expired, they could purchase a new limited mechanical warranty from Ferrari. The so-called New Power warranty requires a (roughly) $1,500 inspection and costs $7,500 per year for up to 12 years. It’s expensive peace of mind for those who don’t want to face the possibility of a $58,000+ transaxle or even-pricier engine replacement should the worst come to pass.

Photo: Power Trip 3

The good news is that most common problems revolve around various electronics and software updates. Transmission sensors have been a sporadic issue, but since many of these sensors reside inside the transaxle’s hot oil, accessing and replacing them requires removing the transaxle.

More recently, as the cars have gotten older and covered more miles, another potential transaxle concern has emerged. If the seals that separate the gearbox oil from the electronic-differential lubricant fail, the mixing of those two very different fluids will cause expensive problems. (Such concerns also apply to the 458, 488, and FF, which use the same basic transmission.)

Any required repair leads straight to the bad news: The Ferrari dealer network holds a virtual lock on servicing and repairing these cars. That’s due to those extended warranties and the F12’s astonishing electronic complexity—one dealership service manager I spoke with summed up the situation by saying, “Thank goodness it’s not a hybrid!”—with the aforementioned software updates only being accessible through Ferrari’s in-house Modis computer program.

Furthermore, like all modern exotics, the F12 utilizes a Controller Area Network (CAN) that links all its computers together. (Envision a high-speed party telephone line from the 1950s that allows data and commands to zip back and forth from one module to another.) This is what lets the Powertrain Control Module, anti-lock brake/traction control/stability control systems, suspension, climate control, keyless entry, lighting, and dozens of other systems and modules all talk to one another. If something goes wrong, these systems can cross-talk, throwing off difficult-to-track-down warning codes that can only be interpreted by a dealer or a private shop with the latest $25,000 Leonardo computer.

The F12tdf’s rear-wheel steering (i.e., Passo Corto Virtuale, or Virtual Short Wheelbase) adds another level of software complexity. While the electric motors that steer the rear wheels up to two degrees in either direction come from ZF, Ferrari’s programmers had to make the system work in harmony with the e-diff, magnetorheological shocks, traction and stability control systems, and so on. Looking down the road, how problematic will an exotic with interconnected computer systems be when the warranty has expired and parts are no longer available from Ferrari? I shudder to think.

In the meantime, though, the F12 remains a fantastic exotic to own and drive. Just make sure you keep it in warranty for as long as possible. —Michael Sheehan

On The Road

The F12 offers blistering performance and—in the case of the berlinetta, at least—impressive comfort. Here’s some of what we’ve said about the model since its introduction.

“Master Class,” FORZA #122

The Ferrari’s smoothness and sophistication at putting its prodigious power to the pavement is extraordinary, as is the way it dispatches bumps. While I don’t have a chance to explore the F12’s limits on a smooth, wide-open racetrack, I’m treated to all manner of broken and patched pavement on the narrow country roads surrounding Maranello—and the Ferrari simply absorbs it all, whether I’m accelerating, braking, or turning.

Photo: Power Trip 4

All of this adds up to a relatively large, extremely powerful car that feels like a much smaller, lighter one. Before driving the F12, I never would have guessed it could deliver the goods on tight and twisting country roads. But after only a few corners, my heart begins to pound in my chest as I push on harder and harder, dancing on the pedals, cranking the wheel, and tugging the paddle shifters, which respond instantly and seamlessly.

It’s difficult not to be awed at what Ferrari has accomplished with its newest model. On the one hand, it is completely relaxed when cruising down the highway or puttering around town; on the other,
it tears through the Maranello countryside with speed and poise that are scarcely believable.

“Big Time,” FORZA #133

Where other seriously fast cars start to run out of steam somewhere around 140 mph, the F12 is still accelerating hard, as if its top speed simply doesn’t exist. It’s truly incredible, to the point where it forces me to re-evaluate every other road car I’ve driven.

Indeed, the F12 is so fast that there are very few points around Circuit of the Americas where I dare peek at the speedometer. Once on the front straight, which is some 10-20 mph slower than the back, I watch the readout crest 150 mph and continue to climb rapidly.

The back straight leads directly to seriously heavy braking for Turn 12, but the F12 simply shrugs it off. The carbon-ceramic brakes are utterly powerful and completely consistent lap after lap.

Whatever my F12 expectations were beforehand, they were far, far exceeded by my experience at COTA. The engine is the superstar here, for sure, and the way its power progresses is impressive in a way I haven’t seen from a production car—ever.

“Twin Peaks,” FORZA #207

I’ve always been impressed by how well extreme Ferraris can doddle around at slow speeds, especially considering the incredible velocities they are capable of in a straight line and through corners, and the F12tdf proves no exception. Next, I flick the manettino to Race and start to push harder. As I shift higher up in the rev range, each gear engages with a striking sense of ferocity.

This is also the case with the engine sound, which is seriously brutal under load. Ferrari’s V12 delivers a thrilling level of torque throughout the middle of the rev range, and when I flex my foot further the mechanical intensity increases.

With the rev lights illuminating on the steering wheel, I know I’ll soon be pulling the paddle to grab the next gear. These lights are no gimmick; without them, I’d almost be terrified to look down and follow the tachometer’s progress.

The F12tdf’s turn-in is extremely crisp, no doubt courtesy of its rear-wheel steering. The same can be said of the car’s braking, which feels a hint over-assisted at slower speeds but which I appreciate more and more the faster I go.

Also from Issue 213

  • 296 GT vs McLaren Artura
  • 365 GT 2+2
  • Pietro Camardella interview
  • Electrified 330 GT 2+2
  • Tifosi: Passion Play
  • Scuderia Ferrari Esports Team
  • Ferrari wins at Daytona
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